My W&L: Kathleen Fitzgerald '14
When I arrived at Washington and Lee I was one of those students who came in with a full 10-year plan. I knew exactly what I wanted to study, what I wanted to be when I grew up, the city I would live in—everything. But the liberal arts education at W&L allowed—sometimes even required—me to try new things and take classes that didn't necessarily fit into my game plan. And without this opportunity to explore different subjects and interests I may never have found my true passion: advertising.
It really took me until my junior year to find my niche on campus. Early into my sophomore fall I realized that the career path I entered college with was not actually for me, but I hadn't yet found an alternative. I had had several internships in various industries over the summers, but nothing had clicked. Fortunately, during my junior year an older friend encouraged me to apply to AdClass, a decision that would over and over again prove to be the right one.
AdClass broadened my horizons in more ways than I can count. Before then I don't think I had ever-stepped foot into Huntley or Holekamp halls, let alone anticipated the countless hours I would spend in the "War Room." But through AdClass I found exactly what I had been looking for. It allowed me to be both creative and strategic, to solve problems, to collaborate with others. It even taught me how to give and take criticism.
Finding advertising helped me find myself—my passions, my strengths and even my weaknesses. By working with so many students from over 20 different majors and minors I began to see, first hand, the importance of a liberal arts education. It was amazing to see my peers applying their expertise in one field to a completely new one to come together and create something innovative and insightful. And it turns out that as a mass communications and art history person, I was perfect for it. I became passionate about design and layout and quickly realized I am a full-fledged font nerd.
AdClass also helped me secure my summer internship, and the foundation W&L gave me allowed me to excel there. In fact, I was far better prepared than students from more traditional marketing or advertising programs.
AdClass, and working with Professor Bower, also provided me the opportunity to get involved outside of the classroom. Getting involved in AdLib, the annual conference celebrating advertising and the liberal arts, has given me something to be really proud of. Through AdLib we are encouraging everyone on campus to realize the value of different majors and areas of expertise, to demonstrate how widely applicable a major in the humanities or liberal arts can be, and how it can serve you in the professional world.
The liberal arts education and endless opportunities found at W&L allowed me to find my professional calling, but it has also prepared me to excel in the advertising world. It may have taken me a little while to find my home here, but it was well worth the wait.