My W&L: Lacy McAlister '14

When I came to Washington and Lee four years ago, I was blissfully unaware of the abundant opportunities and challenges that awaited me on this campus. Like any new college student, I was excited to throw myself into classes, experience a new sense of independence, and discover what I could get involved in. I didn't have a career path picked out, much less a major, and was anxious to find my way and my place at W&L. The way the W&L community embraced me and encouraged my passions has surpassed anything I could have imagined.

I was drawn to W&L largely because of the Shepherd Poverty Program, and was excited to extend my passion for volunteering and service work into the classroom. I quickly enrolled in Poverty 101 and the subsequent fieldwork course, and began to explore the Lexington community from a different perspective. I had little direction beyond a passion for social impact and poverty work, and made my way through a variety of intro courses in a handful of disciplines. Yet instead of waiting for me to zero in on a career path or focus specifically on a major, professors met my uncertainty with encouragement. I have spent countless hours soaking up the wisdom and guidance from incredible professors, and I will forever appreciate their advice. From choosing a major to wrestling with unanswerable questions about poverty and justice to searching for a job, they never failed to lend a listening ear. Rather than trying to define me, W&L let me define myself. I'm a sociology major who spent just as much time in Huntley taking Econ courses. I'm a poverty minor focused on early childhood education in the U.S. but also with a deep desire to work internationally in East Africa. I'm a lover of the rolling hills and country roads of Lexington and the bright lights of big cities. I discovered different pieces of my passions and future career path because of the professors and community here that encouraged me to explore what I was interested in, rather than follow a pre-set path.

I will forever be grateful for the time and energy expended by so many to help and inspire me throughout my time here. It takes a truly remarkable place to guide students through their four years here with encouragement and assurance, yet still allow them to grow into themselves and learn from their mistakes. To me, W&L is and will always be a second home.