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Planes, trains, and automobiles

19 Mar

Some of the most common questions I get on tours and around the Admissions office are regarding transportation. Trust me, I get it. Lexington seems like it is in the middle of nowhere, but it is actually a lot more connected than you think, and certainly more connected than I expected.

I am writing this post from a train on my way to New York City for an interview (wish me luck!) and this is the fourth such trip I  have made by train. While we don’t have a station in Lexington, there are three relatively close; Charlottesville, Staunton, and Lynchburg. All three are serviced by Amtrak and are all well within an hour and a half away. They can take you pretty much anywhere on the eastern seaboard for a very reasonable fare. Want to go to a concert in D.C.? No problem. Visit a friend in Philly? Sure thing. Get a job in NYC? Again, wish me luck.

As far as flying goes, Roanoke is the closest airport and it connects to most of the major airports in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Midwest. Some students choose to drive to Richmond, about 2 1/2 hours away, where you can find generally find cheaper flights to Texas and the West Coast. When traveling abroad, most leave out of Dulles in D.C. or Charlotte, N.C.

If you prefer to drive, whether for a weekend away or to get home during breaks, Lexington is conveniently located at the crossroads of 64 and 81. Locations in Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, North Carolina, South Carolina, , Georgia, West Virginia, Maryland, D.C., Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey are all, generally, less than 8 hours away, with many being far closer.

So while we are definitely not a suitcase campus, there are always ways to get where you need to go!



Greek Member Development

10 Jan

Both men and women on campus are this week going through formal rush, at the end of which each fraternity and sorority will have new members.  This week is a good opportunity to briefly highlight my experience as a fraternity man in order to demonstrate how W&L’s Greek culture can be a tremendous boon to our students.

One of the biggest benefits of being a member of my fraternity, Sigma Phi Epsilon, has been our four-year development program, which is based in the philosophy of “sound mind, sound body” and which replaces pledging in our chapter.  Since I have been a brother we have had numerous dinner lectures by professors, athletic opportunities, and so on.  I was recently named a finalist for our Tragos Quest to Greece, a ten day mental and physical challenge with brothers from across the country this summer.  In addition to these specific development opportunities, my GPA has increased significantly since I’ve had the support of a fraternity for my academic work.

Most people considering W&L definitely know that we have a strong Greek system, but many are unaware of the many benefits that can come from membership.  In addition to having found the best friends of my life, I have benefited from all the development activities mentioned above and more.  The Greek community is excited for our new members this year, and for future classes of new members in the years to come.

Just keep swimming.

30 Nov

The Swim Test in action at W&L!

The Wall Street Journal published an article yesterday on colleges that still require a swim test to graduate. W&L is one of the few, or should I say select, universities to still require a swim test as part of our curriculum. Every orientation week, the first year class is sent to the pool to swim 50 yards and tread water for 5 minutes. Those who pass are one step closer to graduation before they even have their first class, and those who don’t, fret not, will learn to swim in their first P.E. class, Fundamental Swimming. It is a unique tradition to say the least but W&L wouldn’t be the same without it. Thanks to the WSJ  for the above picture that they featured in the article!

SCUBA Diving

14 Nov

Peering over the edge of the pool, my mind was racing. “Why are you doing this? You’re not a strong swimmer. You’re not even that comfortable around water. Why are you doing this?” I was perched on the edge of our W&L pool, getting used to the feel of a mask and flippers, not to mention a giant oxygen tank hanging on my back. Spring term of my freshman year I had lucked into enrolling in the popular PE Scuba Diving class, and was about to take the plunge.

The two week class turned out to be one of my favorites I’ve taken at Washington & Lee. Our first weekend was spent in the W&L pool, adjusting to the awkward tanks and flippers as we practiced rescue breaths and gradual ascents, surrounded by stark white tile. Although the days in the pool left me feeling a bit nervous and uneasy, that disappeared the next weekend as soon as we splashed into Lake Rawlings, a man-made lake only a few hours away. Almost as soon as we reached the platforms at 20 and 30 feet we were surrounded by schools of curious fish, so close we could almost touch them before they darted away. Fascinated I watched the swarm of bubbles streaming out as I cleared my mask and felt my ears pop with the increased pressure. I was too entranced to worry about being underwater; the same skills we’d practiced in the pool a week before seemed like second nature. With our certifications complete we explored the lake’s cars, “computer garden,” basketball court, and myriad of other sunken sights. The experience was unbelievable, and I can’t wait for my next opportunity to dive! Just one more reason to love the PE programs here at W&L.

Volunteer Venture Charleston

5 Sep


Last week I had the privilege of spending my week with 15 first years and 4 other upper classmen in beautiful Charleston, West Virginia.  We spent our time volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, hearing from representatives of the “Friends of Coal” and “Friends of Mountains” organizations, and most importantly, making new friends before orientation week even started.  The pre-orientation trips are wonderful opportunities for freshmen and I am so glad I got to lead one this year.

Volunteer Venture: DC

28 Sep

It’s hot, you’re walking on the sidewalk for miles (and I swear it was all uphill), and there is no metro stop in sight. Why would anyone attempt such an adventure during the summer months in DC? Surely it can’t be because you’re trying to find the nearest grocery store so that your pre-orientation group of First Years can complete their “shopping on a budget” mission for dinner that night. And don’t tell me these students have about $7 to buy enough food for a meal to feed five people!

Well, it’s true. Not only is DC sweltering during the summer months, but our group did only have $7 to spend on groceries for dinner that night. But don’t worry – the trip leaders did make a pretty yummy confetti cake for dessert that night.

Volunteer Venture offers a great option for first-years to get to know other students in their class while participating in community service in locations spanning from Washington, DC to Greensboro, NC and even Lexington, VA. During this week of Pre-Orientation, students may opt to go on a Volunteer Venture trip or an Appalachian Adventure trip, which involves hiking through the beautiful Virginia mountains. As a participant in a Volunteer Venture trip as a first-year and a leader of a VV trip as a sophomore, I can say with confidence that participating in a Pre-Orientation trip is one of the best experiences you’ll have to start off the new school year!

As a first-year, I participated in the Greensboro trip, which focuses on the racial issues surrounding poverty. This past trip, I lead the DC Volunteer Venture that was centered around policy and poverty. We volunteered at places like the DC Central Kitchen, Martha’s Table, and So Other’s Might Eat. The group was also very fortunate to hear from some great speakers, take a night tour of the monuments, and get a special tour of the Capitol! Spending each night on the floor of a church in your sleeping bag, cooking your own food, eating peanut butter sandwiches for lunch everyday, and having a limited number of showers also make for a great bonding experience.

If you’re interested in Washington and Lee and want to make an impact in a community through service, meet a group of amazing people, and start your year off on a positive note, then don’t be afraid to sign up for a Pre-Orientation trip… especially the Volunteer Venture trips! These trips aren’t all about volunteer work. From my experience, they’re more about creating relationships with a group of your peers through service. It’s so nice to have a group of friends when you get back to campus and are thrown right into Orientation week. And it’s also a great introduction to the Poverty classes W&L offers! Go VVDC!

Spring Break and Spring Term!!!!

28 Apr

For my April Break, my pledge class along with a bunch of other sororities and fraternities rented houses at the beach in Alabama. We all had so much fun together and it was nice to spend time with each other when nothing else was going on. Not only did my pledge class bond even further, but we also spent quality time with our other classmates. Everyone was so relaxed after exams, and we all had a great time just hanging out! Nonetheless, we were all so excited to return to campus for the beginning of Spring Term!

Everyone is taking full advantage of Spring Term this year. All of my friends seem to be enjoying their classes, and loving the amount of free time. The weather has been great, and the whole campus is enjoying spring time in Lexington. I am taking a Freshman Seminar Anthropology class called “The Wired Self”.  It focusses on how cell phones and the Internet are changing both individuals and society. My professor put together a lot of great readings that are so engaging and interesting. I have never taken an Anthropology class before, and I especially like this one because the topics and discussions are so current. I can understand and relate to all the things we talk about.It’s only been two days, but so far I’m loving Spring Term!