Majors: Russian Area Studies, Geology
Favorite Class: Hydrology, Professor Paul Low
Favorite W&L Event: MLK Memorial Concert at 1st Baptist Church
Favorite Campus Landmark: Lee Chapel Clock Tower
Why did you choose W&L? It was the only school I was accepted to (This, in retrospect, was extremely fortunate because going anywhere else would have been a huge mistake.)
Why did you choose your major? The Russian and Geology departments are the two best departments on campus.
What professor has inspired you? Jeff Rahl. He knows what students are capable of, and pushes you to take a step further. He is a tremendous motivator, and a great friend.
How have you spent your summers? I spent my first two summers as the head coach of the Marlbank Mudtoads swim team in Yorktown, Va., and last summer in Lexington and Argentina conducting geologic research.
Advice for prospective or first-year students? Keep an open mind about subject areas outside of your comfort zone. Avoid stress by doing things you love.
"I'm going to major in Russian and Geology."
This was a profound revelation, but it did not occur before I began college, or even during the first two years of my time at Washington and Lee. I arrived here convinced that my primary interest was in international politics. Two years later, however, I had explored a range of courses, studied overseas, and was convinced that my interests lay far from where I thought they did. Had it not been for the uniquely intimate and exploratory academic environment that Washington and Lee offers, I likely never would have stumbled upon the subjects that I truly love.
Before arriving in Lexington, I had spent my middle and high school career studying Spanish. Wanting to shake things up a bit, I decided to pursue Russian to fulfill my language requirement. Little did I know at the time, however, that I would find this language and the Russian department to be challenging, exciting and inspirational enough to pursue fluency. Spring term of my sophomore year, I traveled to St. Petersburg, Russia to study for six weeks. I lived with a host mother, took courses, explored the cultural icons of the city, and made friends from all over the world. By the time I returned to the United States, I was convinced that Russia was a place that I needed to return to, and that its language was one that I needed to master.
My interest in geology was more deeply rooted, yet took longer to unearth. I had been interested in rocks and natural resources all my life, but it took until my junior year to realize that my favorite course of my W&L career had been my intro to geology lab. With this in mind, I concluded that my true passion was beckoning me towards the science center. I quickly found a home in the geology department, which features some of the best faculty on campus and the resources to provide an incredible undergraduate experience. Last summer, I was invited to travel with Professors Harbor and Rahl to northern Argentina to conduct research in the Andes. My time there was invaluable. I found myself strapped into a non-stop, unavoidable, yet tremendously enjoyable two and a half week tutoring session. I came to appreciate the truly interdisciplinary nature of geologic problems and the skills and tenacity necessary to solve them. Most importantly, I recognized geology as something that I can see myself enjoying for the rest of my life.
In addition to my academics at Washington and Lee, I have found homes in other areas of student life. I came to W&L, in large part, because of the swim team. Once here, I found myself a member of a tremendously dedicated, talented and inspirational group of men. To be certain, I have had ups and downs in my swimming career here. All along the way, however, I have been surrounded by a team and coaching staff that is second to none. Freshly tanned from our training trip in Miami, I am more excited than ever for what I expect will be the best end of a season that the Generals have ever had.
While I knew that I would be a swimmer at W&L, I also found myself exploring other avenues that I could not have anticipated. One of the biggest honors I have received as a member of the W&L community has been the opportunity to sing in the University Chamber Singers. Our rehearsals on Monday through Thursday are largely responsible for keeping me sane. It is an incredible experience to stand among a group of people representing nearly all majors across campus, making music with a level of skill that rivals almost any university choir in the nation. I owe a tremendous amount to our directory, Dr. Lynch, who continually pushes us to expand our capabilities and has a rare ability to find beauty and love in seemingly insignificant elements of music and life.
A final, defining part of my career in Lexington has been the Residential Life Staff. Before my junior year, I decided to apply to be a Resident Adviser for first year students. The experience I dove into was one of tremendous growth. I found that I had become part of one of the most influential and important organizations on campus, and I embraced the challenges that the position presented. This year I took on the position of Head Resident Adviser for first years. Leading the ResLife staff has been a tremendous privilege. It has broadened my perspectives and allowed me to build relationships in ways that I never could have imagined. At the heart of my RA experience, however, lies the fact that it has been an honor to help first years learn the ropes of the institution that has given so much to me, with the hope that they might enjoy their time here as much as I have.