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My W&L

"The relationships I have made and strengthened while volunteering over the course of my time in Lexington are more important to me than I could have imagined."

Ellen Wiencek '15

Over the past four years, I found my niche in the Shepherd Program, where I am a work study student, a member of the Campus Kitchen Leadership Team, and chair of community engagement for Nabors Service League. After participating in the Volunteer Venture program to Washington, D.C., before my freshman year, I knew that I wanted to be part of the interdisciplinary program aimed to educate students about the increasing poverty and inequality that exists in the United States today.

As a mathematics and economics major, I clearly like numbers. In any analysis, I tend to default to empirical arguments, using data as my main method of support. When I took Professor Pickett's Introductory Poverty course my freshman year, the greatest initial challenge for me was the quantity of anecdotal and ethical evidence we used in our class discussions and analysis of domestic poverty. Over the course of the semester, I aimed to meet this challenge, and I learned how to write papers that had strong statistical support, but also told a story to make those data points resonate with the reader.

Four years later, I've completed my poverty capstone course on the structural isolation of the urban poor, using arguments from economics, political philosophy and sociology, thus completing my poverty minor. In true liberal arts fashion, the poverty studies curriculum has rounded out my analytical skills, helping me to understand the people behind the data that I would have otherwise cast aside.

At the same time as my introductory course, I was enrolled in a service-learning course, requiring a volunteer commitment of four hours and a written reflection each week. My placement was at the Campus Kitchen, where I delivered dinner and visited with the residents of the Natural Bridge Manor, an assisted living facility. To enhance the anecdotal readings of the introductory class, this service-learning course allowed me to have real names and faces to learn from, and it further helped me understand the complexities of poverty and its potential solutions. Forming these personal relationships solidified my interest in pursuing the poverty minor, and I have been delivering to the Manor ever since.

As a senior, reflecting on my four years of volunteering, I have actually begun to think of it less as service, and more as part of my daily routine. The relationships I have made and strengthened while volunteering over the course of my time in Lexington are more important to me than I could have imagined when I first began visiting the Manor. It is easy to get stuck in the campus bubble, so I am glad to have found a way to connect with the local community through the Shepherd Program.

Ellen Wiencek '15

Hometown: Medina, Ohio

Majors: Economics and Mathematics

Minor: Poverty and Human Capability Studies

Extracurricular Involvement:

  • Campus Kitchen Leadership Team
  • Nabors Service League Community Engagement Chair
  • Peer Tutor
  • Pi Beta Phi Sorority

Off-Campus Experiences:

  • Spring Term Abroad in Paris, 2013
  • Shepherd Internship in Camden, New Jersey, 2013
  • Junior Year Abroad in Oxford, 2013-2014
  • Spring Term Abroad in Ghana, 2015

Post-Graduation Plans:  Research Assistant at the Federal Reserve Board of Governors

Favorite W&L Memory: The Kayaking Trip to the Everglades with the Outing Club

Favorite W&L Event: Parents Weekend!

Favorite Landmark: Lexington Coffee Shop

What's something people wouldn't guess about you? My sophomore year, I was in W&L's production of "Bye Bye Birdie."

Advice for first-year students: Don't be afraid to reach out to professors who may have work on a topic that interests you, even if you don't already know them. The academic community at W&L is supportive; professors are happy to share their work and have discussions with interested students. I've had valuable conversations with professors that I've never had for class, and having those resources has allowed me to fill in some interdisciplinary gaps.

A Life of Consequence

By combining the benefits of a liberal arts foundation with emerging technologies and interdisciplinary perspectives, our students head into life after college equipped with the habits of mind, strength of character and essential knowledge needed to pursue lives of consequence.

In Action People and Programs

W&L's motto, "not unmindful of the future," underlies the University's commitment to providing a liberal arts education that is vital and relevant in the 21st century. By combining the benefits of a liberal arts foundation with emerging technologies and interdisciplinary perspectives, our students head into life after college equipped with the habits of mind, strength of character and essential knowledge needed to pursue lives of consequence.

For over 250 years, Washington and Lee graduates have been making landmark contributions to the world. Its alumni are leaders in business, journalism, medicine and many other fields. The number who have held top posts in government--27 U.S. senators, 67 U.S. representatives, 31 state governors and four Supreme Court justices--is testament to the University's commitment to fostering the ideals of visionary leadership.

And our graduates maintain a lifelong connection to the University. Through W&L's strong alumni network, composed of over 25,000 graduates in 81 chapters worldwide, current students experience the benefits of this tight-knit community in the form of financial support, meaningful internships and career mentors.

As President Kenneth P. Ruscio stated in his 2009 convocation address, "What has distinguished us, I firmly believe, is not a rhetorical commitment to character, but a deeply effective history of students becoming aware of their responsibilities to others, and later leading lives of service that bring distinction to themselves and to this University."

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At a Glance Facts and Figures

W&L alumni include 31 governors, 26 senators, 67 congressmen and 4 supreme court justices.
34 W&L students worked in service-related Shepherd Internships during summer 2014
95% of W&L graduates who apply to law school are accepted. For medical school, the acceptance rate is 92%.
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.
Roughly 25,000 alumni are part of the W&L network, with 81 chapters all around the world.

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.