Just like all Spring Terms, only four weeks, all students get a chance to take a class outside their major. However, I am a math major and I am taking a math class. It’s not an ordinary math class though! It’s called Cryptography. It’s all about code breaking. We are working our way toward understanding RSA, but we are lucking enough to have seen a real Enigma Machine and decode some Vigenere and shift ciphers. Hopefully much more to come!
For our final project in my “Teaching Elementary Reading”, our class worked together to make summer literacy kits for low-income rising kindergarteners in Rockbridge County. Our kits included alphabet magnets, instructions for parents on how to read to their children and how to teach their children to write their name, books and an audio recording of “The Very Lonely Firefly” by Eric Carle, crayons, scissors, and more! This final project was a little unconventional but it was one of the most rewarding and truly cumulative projects I have participated in thus far at Washington and Lee. We used what we learned during the semester about the different aspects of literacy to decide what to put in the kits and then had the opportunity to apply that knowledge in a way that gave back to our community. Innovative, project-based learning like this occurs all over campus every day and is one of the many reasons why I’m glad I chose W&L.
For those of you that are Chick-Fil-A connoisseurs like myself and are thinking that you can never come to a college without Chick-Fil-A at your finger tips, have no fear. I am living proof that it can be done! My house and I have discovered that the nearest Chick-Fil-A, while many are under the impression that it is in Roanoke, is only about 35 minutes away in Waynesboro, VA. This is a healthy distance for me and my obsession, and we often make quick trips as a group to get our fix (I highly recommend getting a platter to save for later…). What about if you don’t have a car? More than a few times each semester some clubs and organizations on campus will offer Chick-Fil-A in the Commons! Although you don’t have to drive to satisfy your craving, you might want to get there early before it runs out!
Today, much like any other day of the week here for me at Washington and Lee, I went to office hours. As a math major, this part of my day is crucial to my academic success. Whether I’m working on a weekly problem set or studying for the next big Real Analysis test, my professor, just like any other professor at W&L, is more than accessible and really eager to help. This part of my day is where I can solidify the class lectures and ensure that I understand what we’ve covered. To me, this is one of the major benefits of coming to a small liberal arts college like Washington and Lee. All of our professors here really want us to do well and are certainly willing to lend a hand to make it happen.
I know it’s kind of late to be talking about February break with spring break right around the corner, but I just realized that I never blogged to tell everyone about how awesome it was! I live with 6 girls, and my housemates and I decided to spend the week in Beaver Creek where one of them has a place. A couple other groups of friends from school were out there too, and we all had the best time! Although all of our skiing abilities ranged widely, we managed to leave the mountain with only a few minor falls. We skied, ate yummy food, shopped around the village, visited with friends, spent a day in Vail, and of course, hot-tubbed for far too long. This trip was great to get away from the stresses of midterms and spend time with fun people. Not many schools like W&L get a week off in February, and we definitely made the most of it!
Tonight is the Senior Service for my sorority, during which we celebrate the women in our organization who will be graduating. Tonight also marks the last chapter (weekly meeting) that most Seniors will attend – making it a bittersweet evening. Greek life was not something I was looking for when I began my college search, and I definitely doubted whether on not it was something I wanted to participate in when I arrived at Washington & Lee. But now, four years later, I can look back on my greek experience with nothing but fond memories and I know that it helped shape my W&L career and allowed me to grow in ways I didn’t expect it to.
There are generally a lot of stereotypes linked to greek life, many of which I believed prior to enrollment. But the truth is that greek life at W&L is different – it isn’t ‘Animal House’ or ‘Legally Blonde’. With over 80% of the student body in greek organizations, students who go greek are leaders both within their houses and on campus. Greek organizations at W&L maintain exceptionally high GPAs, host a plurality of the annual philanthropy events on campus, and have a diverse membership. Each house has athletes and Johnson Scholars and club presidents – we can’t be labeled or put into categories.
Greek life was not my defining experience at Washington & Lee. My membership in a sorority does not match my participation in Mock Convention or my research work or my academic success. But greek life was a defining experience of mine. It provided a network of diverse yet connected individuals with whom I could feel at home, and it allowed us a physical place to call our home. Greek life was a beneficial experience – and one that I didn’t think I would have. Simply put, it was a pleasant surprise.
While in many ways tonight is just another Monday night to be spent in the library writing my capstone, it is also a night I will remember for the bonds that I have shared with my friends over the last four years. It will be the night we celebrated job offers of fellow seniors and the memories we have made as members of our organization during our time at W&L. So yes, I guess I am feeling a bit sentimental.
The nice weather finally coming around is a constant reminder of Spring Term. Taking one course for four weeks is not only a good way to become very knowledgeable about that one topic, but also offers a time to get to know Lexington, VA. With time to spend out in the nice weather people often explore the local mountain trails and rivers. Floating down the river is a very common activity during the Spring. With many off campus houses right on the river this is no hard task.
Although many schools have similar short class terms, they are usually in the Winter. W&L offers this short term in the Spring. In my opinion, this is the ideal time to offer such term. It not only allows students to focus on a topic they want, but also gets students to learn more about the surrounding Lexington area. Students take full advantage of this time and Spring Term is many students most favorite thing about their time here. With such a beautiful surrounding landscape, Spring Term is certainly something that makes W&L an enjoyable school for a student to attend.