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My W&L

"As a senior, I look back at my four years and can see how much the Shepherd Program has shaped my passions, worldview and career aspirations."

Rebecca Dunn '16

Washington and Lee's Shepherd Poverty Program has truly defined my college experience. Through enrollment in the Poverty and Human Capability Studies minor and involvement in co-curricular activities the Shepherd Program has to offer, I have been able to take classes with inspiring professors, participate in two fully-funded summer professional experiences, meet new and interesting students, and become immersed in the Rockbridge community. I am proud to say that I attend the founding institution of the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty (SHECP), which unites nearly two-dozen institutions to fight poverty across the U.S. and around the world. I believe that the niche the program occupies, the meaningful work it carries out, and the passion it inspires in students is unmatched by any other undergraduate institution.

It didn't take long for the Shepherd Program to permeate into my coursework, define what I would do in my free time, and eventually go as far as shape my identity — in fact, it started in the first semester of my freshman year with Dr. Beckley's Poverty 101 class. The rigorous coursework allowed me to understand the complexities of poverty and what can be done to foster human capabilities in ways I did not previously understand. Not only was I intellectually stimulated in the classroom, but I also later found that volunteer opportunities falling under the Shepherd Program's umbrella — namely as a leader at Campus Kitchen — allowed me to deepen my academic studies and expand them beyond the scope of W&L's campus.

The Shepherd Program later afforded me opportunities to intern for organizations in Kampala, Uganda and Washington, D.C. over consecutive summers. This work allowed me to gain technical knowledge regarding the nonprofit sector as well as participate in a variety of rich cultural experiences; some of which included playing barefoot soccer on a dirt pitch, teaching a class of 7-9-year-old refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo about the ocean, working with a single mother to help her secure stable housing, and carrying out research for my sociology honor's thesis on concentrated disadvantage and racial segregation across Washington, D.C. My internship experiences continue to push me to grapple with challenging domestic and international issues related to poverty, race, inequality, and policy.

Back when I applied to Washington and Lee, I never would have guessed how many learning experiences and opportunities that I would gain from the poverty and human capability studies minor. As a senior, I look back at my four years and can see how much the program has shaped my passions, worldview and career aspirations. I am truly grateful to the donors and professors who make it possible and cannot wait to read about the incredible experiences of Campus Kitchen leaders and Shepherd interns in the future.

Rebecca Dunn '16

Hometown: Houston, TX

Major: Sociology

Minor: Poverty and Human Capability Studies

Extracurricular Involvement:

  • Women's Soccer Team
  • Campus Kitchen Leader
  • Writing Center Tutor
  • GenDev Project Manager
  • Questioning Passion Seminar Participant
  • Kappa Alpha Theta sorority member

Off-Campus Experiences:

  • Shepherd International Internship (Soccer Without Borders intern in Kampala, Uganda)
  • Shepherd Domestic Internship (LIFT Community Advocate in Washington, D.C.)

Post-Graduation Plans: Pursuing a fellowship abroad

Favorite W&L Memory: Beating Virginia Wesleyan in women's soccer in double overtime my sophomore year

Favorite Class: International Development with Professor Dickovick

Favorite Campus Landmark: The view from Watt Field of the Shenandoah Valley

What professor has inspired you? Professor Eastwood-to pursue a PhD in Sociology

Advice for prospective or first-year students? Hike House Mountain!

Engaged Community

Students have access to a world of academic, athletic and extracurricular activities no matter what their major--and a strong support system composed of both students and faculty to help them succeed in whatever they choose to do.

In Action People and Programs

When W&L students and alumni describe what makes Washington and Lee special, they invariably talk about the community. Our beloved Speaking Tradition creates an open, friendly atmosphere on campus, while our commitment to inclusion means that students can get involved on campus from day one. Students have access to a world of academic, athletic and extracurricular activities no matter what their major--and a strong support system composed of both students and faculty to help them succeed in whatever they choose to do.

W&L's commitment to service and sustainability encourages students to become an integral part of the local and global community as well. Before they even arrive on campus, first-year students can participate in Volunteer Venture, a one-week, service-learning, pre-orientation program. Once on campus, students may volunteer with a variety of organizations, including Nabors Service League, the Bonner Scholars Program, the Compost Crew, the Student Environmental Action League and the Campus Kitchen at Washington and Lee. Themed housing options for upper-division students include the Global Service House and the Sustainability Development House.

Service learning is also an important component of many of our academic programs. Students in the Shepherd Program for the Interdisciplinary Study of Poverty and Human Capability combine academic study with co-curricular work and rigorous internships to learn about issues related to poverty. Students with a variety of majors volunteer in the local public schools and participate in service-minded co-curricular programs, including Washington and Lee Student Consulting and the General Development Initiative.

At an institutional level, Washington and Lee is committed to the local community through an ongoing grants program that provides financial assistance to worthwhile projects and organizations.

Related Stories

At a Glance Facts and Figures

246,339 meals served to food-insecure families and individuals by the Campus Kitchen at W&L to date.
64,079 hours of community service logged by W&L students last year.
W&L has awarded local nonprofit organizations $332,542 through its Community Grants Program since 2008.
13 W&L graduates joined the Teach for America corps in 2014, making the university one of the top 20 small colleges and universities sending graduates into teaching service for the second straight year.
W&L has 472 varsity student athletes, with over 75% of the student body participating in organized sports at the intramural, club or varsity level.
95% of the student body is involved in the nationally renowned quadrennial Mock Convention.

Visit, Interview, Apply See Yourself Here

Ready to learn more? Come visit us in Lexington for a campus tour and class visit, or connect with one of our admissions counselors in a city near you. We look forward to meeting you.

Visit Tours and Interviews

Step One:

Schedule your visit with a campus tour and/or info session online.

Step Two:

Call our office to schedule your interview and/or class visit (for high school seniors only). We will coordinate your interview and class visit with your already scheduled visit. (540) 458-8710.

Can't make it to Lexington?

There are various ways in which you can still connect with Washington and Lee University and the Office of Admissions:

Apply Now

Apply Quick Guide

  • Early Decision is a binding commitment; enrollment is required if you are accepted.
    • ED-1: Nov. 1
    • ED-2: Jan. 1
  • Regular Decision is for students who want to maximize options.
    • Deadline: Jan. 1
  • Johnson Scholarship (additional essay required, instructions on the W&L Writing Supplement to the Common Application.)
    • Deadline: Dec. 1
Application Materials:

Financial Aid and Scholarships

We seek to ensure that the cost of attending W&L does not prevent outstanding students from choosing to enroll. A generous need-based aid program and merit-based scholarships can make that investment more manageable than you may think. Visit Financial Aid for more information.

The Johnson Scholarship Program awards over 40 full tuition, room and board scholarships annually. Read More

Admitted students who meet financial aid deadlines and are found to have need will have their full need met with grant funds and a work-study job -- no loans.

The W&L Promise guarantees free tuition to any undergraduate student admitted to Washington and Lee with a family income below $100,000. Learn More

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Washington and Lee University provides a liberal arts education that develops students' capacity to think freely, critically, and humanely and to conduct themselves with honor, integrity, and civility. Graduates will be prepared for life-long learning, personal achievement, responsible leadership, service to others, and engaged citizenship in a global and diverse society.