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My W&L

"College is a place where you will grow no matter how you go through it. The only thing you control is who you grow to be."

Jok Asiyo '16

Imagine waking up one morning in a brand new bed with brand new clothes on. Then you realize the surprises haven't ended, because you have a fresh haircut and a huge pile of textbooks next to you. Confused but curious, you start to wonder if this is the end of the surprises. Finally, while you're still shaking off the morning cobwebs, people you've never met before start coming in and out of your room. Each person that steps in is offering you something--information sessions with some of the top companies in the U.S., opportunities to volunteer, chances to visit other countries, the unique experience of starting your own club, varsity and intramural sports teams, and many other things that you just can't hear through all the chatter. All this is happening while you're trying to go meet some new people to help guide you through this foreign place that you've stepped into. Well that's college--specifically W&L.

In short, college is overwhelming. No matter what institution of higher learning you attend, you realize that very quickly. The word itself usually has a negative connotation attached to it, but that doesn't have to be the case. Overwhelming can be a good thing, as it has been for me and many others who have signed their name in Lee Chapel, committing to the student run Honor System.

Through my three years, I've learned a lot--from the simplest things like making a grilled cheese sandwich in a toaster, to thinking about life beyond myself. Internships, organizations, studies abroad, varsity sports, and numerous professors and peers have taught me the following things in their own unique ways:

  • College is hard.
    College is supposed to be hard. One of the first things Coach Hutchinson, the varsity basketball coach, said to me during my freshman year was: "College basketball is supposed to be harder than high school basketball." That has shown up in everything I've done at W&L. The classes you take, choices you make, and responsibilities you have are more difficult than the ones you had in high school. It also always reminds me that I'm here for a reason, and that's to push myself to new limits everyday. If it were easy it wouldn't be worth it. That's why college is hard, especially at W&L--because it's worth it.
  • Embracing conflict is the only real way to resolve it.
    Unfortunately, it's impossible to please everyone, and at some point in everyone's life there will be a conflict that is completely unavoidable. This is no time to run, or panic. This is the time to shine. When problems arise, greet them with open arms and find a way to resolve them, however you can. Learning to resolve conflicts will only get better with time, patience and practice. Being a Resident Advisor teaches me that on a monthly basis. With every new situation I handle, I get to see my own growth, while contributing to someone else's.
  • Criticism hurts, but if you learn from it, you'll learn to love it.
    No one wants to lie, but no one likes hearing the truth when it hurts either. When you become open and willing to accept the criticism that others give you, you can become a better person because you'll know what you've been lacking. It's impossible to fix something you aren't aware of, so criticism, if taken the right way, can be your best friend.
  • Experiment.
    Go out and take a class you've never heard of. Go to a restaurant that looks nice, but you don't know how the food is. Go to a country that you've only seen in movies. Go on the road trip your friends have been talking about for years. Ask the questions you think are dumb. At the very least smile at someone who might not smile back. College is full of surprises. Unlike the scenario described in the beginning. you don't just wake up with them all. You have to go find them. When I came to Washington and Lee I pretty much hated English, reading, and anything literature related, until I tried an English class out for fun. Now, I'm a creative writing minor and my Kindle is priceless, so I guess that speaks for itself.
  • Search for your passion and pursue it when you find it
    Do some soul searching and find what really makes you tick. Find a reason to get up every Monday morning with excitement. College is a place where you will grow no matter how you go through it. The only thing you control is who you grow to be.

In closing, do what you love, and love what you do, for at the end of the day, your happiness is dependent on no other but you.

Jok Asiyo '16

Hometown: Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania

Major: Computer Science

Minor: Creative Writing

Extracurricular Involvement:

  • Washington and Lee Men's Varsity Basketball
  • Assistant Head Resident Advisor
  • Beta Theta Pi Fraternity
  • First Year Leadership Council Advisor (Junior Year)
  • First Year Leadership Council Member (First Year)
  • Lego Robotics Volunteer at Waddell Elementary
  • Washington and Lee Student Consulting
  • First Year Class President
  • ITS Student Help Desk
  • Lenfest Box Office Attendant

Off-Campus Experiences:

  • Science of Cooking (CHEM 155): Italy
  • The West of Ireland (ENGL 388): Ireland
  • Deutsche Bank Global Operations and Technology Internship (Sophomore and Junior year)

Favorite W&L Memory: Going to Florida with the basketball team my freshman year. Hands down the greatest trip of my life. My first year was rough, but going down to Florida with all of my new best friends really made me feel like W&L was my new home. I even made a video of the trip when I went back home for winter break of the pictures and clips that I took because I enjoyed the trip so much. Being able to play football on the beach in December wasn't too bad either.

Favorite Class: English 201: Poetry (Creative Writing Workshop) with Professor Miranda.

What's your passion? Writing. This is very surprising because when I came to college I never would have thought I would enjoy it as much as I do now. It gives me a new voice, sometimes one that I can make up, and lets me see things from different perspectives. I enjoy putting myself inside the shoes of others to find ways to understand and interact with them on their level, instead of making assumptions. It also helps me express myself when things aren't going as planned, so it's a great coping mechanism.

What's something people wouldn't guess about you? I was a powder-puff cheerleader, and embraced it to the absolute fullest.

What professor has inspired you? I have to put my basketball coaches here, who I not only think of as a coaches, but as a friends and mentors--Coach Hutchinson and Coach Ey. We have a love-hate relationship, and that's just the nature of the beast. It's tough to love someone through all of the mistakes they make, and I definitely have made the most mistakes on the basketball court. The reason they have inspired me so much is because they demand every player to be the best they can be. They believe in each and every player and see the potential each player has day in and day out, and they push them towards that potential every day. It can be mentally, emotionally and physically taxing, but the more I reflect on the things that they say, the more I realize that their intentions are solely to bring the best out of me, and every player on the team.

Advice for prospective or first-year students? Things don't just happen to you in life; you have to make them happen. You have to decide what you want, and make your decisions work accordingly with your goals.

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In Action People and Programs

Washington and Lee fosters an atmosphere of self-discovery and an environment where anything is possible. From research theses to fully student-led theater productions, the University makes it easy for students to follow their dreams. Every year, students present research proposals to faculty and pursue hypotheses in both the sciences and the arts. Student research can occur both on campus and off, with research grants specifically designated for both areas.

With an average class size of 16, it's easy to find faculty advisors for both major projects and new clubs. Many students propose self-guided majors or pursue a double-or even triple-major, given the inclusive nature of a liberal arts education. This provides students with the opportunity to discover their passions, and also with the support to pursue them.

The University's four-week Spring Term is designed to be transformative. The courses offered during the term are set up with the dream-class concept in mind, remarkable examples of creative and expansive teaching: studying painting in Italy; the Freedom Rides throughout the South; the physics of music; code-breaking in mathematics and history; aerial dance; and many, many more. Rigorous internships and co-curricular programs like Mock Convention, the Venture Club and the Williams Investment Society immerse students in real-world learning situations that bring the concepts they've studied in the classroom to life.

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At a Glance Facts and Figures

At W&L, 22% of classes have 2-9 students, 49% have 10-19 students, 27% have 20-29 students and just 1% has 30-39 students.
44 Johnson Scholarships are awarded annually.
114 Johnson Opportunity Grants have been awarded since 2009 to support student summer experiences.
The W&L course catalog includes 1200+ courses in 37 majors and 21 minors.
190 new courses were created by W&L faculty for the new four-week Spring Term.

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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.