Hometown: Charlottesville, VA
Major: Politics and American History
Post-Graduation Plans: I am interested in pursuing a career in international relations, intelligence or international diplomacy.
Favorite W&L Memory: The most important memory of W&L I have is a story of family history. My great uncle, Alben W. Barkley, Vice President under Harry Truman, came to speak at Mock Convention. He was invited to give the keynote address. During his speech, he dropped dead at the podium. My family connection and the emphasis the school places on tradition is a major reason why I chose W&L over other institutions.
Favorite W&L Event: Buffalo Creek Music Festival. At the end of every school year since 1991, W&L has celebrated Spring Term by throwing a music festival at Zollman's Pavillion. The event brings the entire campus together for a weekend of fun, sun and music. Bluegrass bands are abundant during the day and the music lasts all night. A perfect end to a school year marked by an incredible number of social events.
Robert E. Lee came to Washington and Lee determined to institutionalize a code of southern morality. While president of the University, he emphasized student self-governance, a tradition that has endured since the nineteenth century. It’s one of the main reasons why I chose W&L.
Once on campus, I immediately witnessed how these traditions were still alive and strong in the 21st century. Students at W&L have the opportunity to lead the school and are given ample resources to do so. My freshman year, issues were brewing about the nature of the relationship between students and community members. One of the traditions established by Lee was that upperclassmen live off-campus to interact with the greater Lexington community. In recent years, problems have arisen with the expansion of private housing developments in once-isolated areas near traditional student housing. The proximity of the two communities had the potential to become destructive to the relationship between them.
W&L students understand that the freedom to live off-campus comes with added responsibility to be a good neighbor. At most schools, the administration would take the lead on these issues. At W&L, the students were an active part of their resolution. A group of my classmates recognized the problem freshman year and wanted to do something about it. We received a grant from the Virginia ABC to construct an open forum for community members, police officers, school officials, city and county government leaders and other interested parties. We have worked on issues such as trash, speeding, noise ordinances and party control together as a community, and developed a method of conflict-management that seems to work for everyone. The Campus-Community Coalition now holds open forums once a month. Leading the meetings is a treat because students actively participate.
At W&L, we understand the character of self-governance and strive to create an environment in which we can all work together. At another school, it would be an administrator leading the meetings and resolving the issues. At W&L, it is me. This exemplifies everything that W&L stands for as a unique institution. Robert E. Lee would be proud to see that his students have maintained their integrity, honor, loyalty, and tradition.