skip to main content
A-Z Index Directory Calendar Libraries Webmail
825
Young Alumni at Work

"I studied such a broad range of subjects because I wanted to fully immerse myself in the liberal arts by examining truth from many different perspectives."

Thomas Day '15 Health Science Specialist and Research Assistant Palo Alto VA Hospital and Stanford School of Medicine.

Where can majors in biochemistry, religion and music composition take someone?

Thomas Day '15 took these majors to become a health science specialist and research assistant in hospice and palliative medicine at Palo Alto VA Hospital and Stanford School of Medicine.

"I studied such a broad range of subjects because I wanted to fully immerse myself in the liberal arts by examining truth from many different perspectives."

Day is working to improve the lives of patients who have terminal illnesses. He says he is helping people at their most vulnerable point in life.

He is working on four main projects: evaluating the most effective way to screen patients for pain in primary care; measuring the quality of hospice care within the VA system to improve care nationwide; analyzing focus group interviews about roles within interdisciplinary healthcare teams; and helping coordinate the development of a joint hospice and palliative care program at Stanford University School of Medicine and Palo Alto VA.

Day had no background in any of the technical skills his daily work requires, but ironically, he says this shows how Washington and Lee University prepared him.

He says that because of W&L, learning a whole new skill set was not a daunting task.

Day found a form of expression in music at a young age, and he continued that passion at W&L with the University Singers.

He said every concert closes with "The Road Home."

"The Road Home is incredibly beloved by every member of the choir because it encapsulated so much of what the choir means to its members and what W&L means as well. It leads you back to a place like home," Day said.

Below is an excerpt of the song.

"With the love in your heart
As the only song;
There is no such beauty
As where you belong;
Rise up, follow me,
I will lead you home."

In addition to University Singers, Day was a resident advisor, peer counselor, member of the student faculty hearing board and a member of General Admission, among other things.

Day offers this advice for current W&L students: "Live your life there to the fullest. Take advantage of every opportunity you have to get involved and cherish your friendships."

One class at W&L that stands out to Day was Religion 210 with Dr. Alex Brown. After having a bad draw during freshman year registration, "Approaches to the Study of Religion" was the only class available for his schedule. Brown advised Day that this class was not meant for first-years, but he persisted.

"It completely shaped the way I view the world and current religions ... It's the most valuable class I've ever taken. She wound up being my advisor and a sounding board for my life decisions."

If Day could go back to W&L, he says he would spend more time doing the things he loves with his friends. He also called Lexington a "treasure trove" and encourages students to explore it more.

Day will remain with Palo Alto VA Hospital for two years. He also sits on the Alumni Board of Directors for the United States Presidential Scholars.

Day plans to matriculate into medical school in summer 2017.

- by Cecelia Smith-Schoenwalder '16

Thomas Day '15 Health Science Specialist and Research Assistant Palo Alto VA Hospital and Stanford School of Medicine.

A Day in the Life of a Research Assistant

6:45-7:30: I wake up, eat breakfast and get ready for work.

7:30-8:00: Palo Alto is a bike friendly area, so I bike 5 miles to the Menlo Park campus of the Palo Alto VA Healthcare System.

8:00-10:30: I begin my day by reviewing the statuses of my projects and taking care of administrative tasks to keep them on schedule. Research projects require extensive behind-the-scenes oversight, including composing protocols, drafting budgets, securing IRB approval (ethical approval) and scheduling meetings. These responsibilities vary depending on the projects' different stage — from grant writing to data collection to paper submissions.

10:30-12:30: Once the administrative tasks are complete, I turn my attention toward research activities. I conduct qualitative research, so I use a program called Atlas.ti to code interview transcripts, then I write about those findings in scientific articles. I also spend this time reading relevant papers and joining teleconference meetings with collaborators.

1:00-4:00: My fellow research assistant and I then travel to the Palo Alto VA's primary care clinic to gather data about how physicians ask about and manage pain. One of us recruits patients to join our study and the other hands them a Galaxy tablet with our survey app loaded onto it. The tablet survey asks patients about different pain screening techniques ("On a scale of one to ten, how bad is your pain today?") then reports the results so that we can figure out the best way to ask about pain.

4:30-5:30: At the end of the day, we drive back to the office, transfer our data, and make sure all sensitive information is stored securely. I then head to the gym to play basketball with coworkers and veterans getting treatment for PTSD. Hearing their stories has given me a deep respect both for their duties overseas and for their daily struggles assimilating back home.

5:30-6:00: I conclude my day with the same 5-mile bike ride back to my apartment.

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."

Related Stories

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

Deadlines:
  • 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
Testing:
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

Net Price Calculator

W&L

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.