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Office Hours

2 Apr

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.


11 Mar

I overslept this morning. I could blame it on daylight savings or a long weekend, but really I just plain overslept. I woke up right as my first class was ending and immediately felt  both confused (why did I hit ‘off’ and not ‘snooze’?) and very, very guilty.

You see, when you sleep through your alarm or miss class at W&L, your professor’s notice and that is because when you walk into the first day of class, your Professor’s learn your names right away. Having small class sizes at W&L not only allows for an excellent learning environment and vibrant discussion, it also means that you establish real relationships with your Professor’s. The academic experience at W&L is very much a two-way street, or better yet, a partnership. If you seem to be having an off week or two, it is very common to get an e-mail from a Professor or Advisor checking in to make sure everything is ok. Have your grades taken a hit? Professor’s will open their doors for extra help and office hours.

Knowing my Professor’s truly care instills in me a feeling of responsibility. I matter in the classroom, and that class time matters for my learning. You can’t phone it in at W&L, but once you get here, you won’t ever want to!


Personalizing the major

26 Feb

It’s that time of year: the time for sophomores to declare an initial major. I was fortunate enough to come into W&L knowing that I wanted to major in journalism. I also knew that I wanted a second major to explore another interest to complement my journalism major.

At the academic fair during orientation week, a professor encouraged me not to rush into choosing a second major. He suggested that I take a variety of classes and find subjects and professors that interest me the most. I took a variety of courses from art history and literature to mathematics and economics during my first year at W&L. This past fall term, I took a course in politics that was very interesting and useful to my study in journalism and taught by a great professor. I decided to take a seminar with the same professor this winter term and I really liked working with her.

Now that I am required to officially declare an initial major in journalism, I have also decided that I want to add politics as a second major. I am fortunate enough to get to work with my politics professor even more as an advisor for my politics major.

Because W&L is such a small school, students get to choose their advisors when they declare their majors. I feel very fortunate that I not only get to create my curriculum around topics that interest me, but that I also get to pick the professors that I get to work with.

Relaxed atmoshpere

26 Feb

We have just returned from February Break. Personally, I spent mine relaxing and visiting my friends. It was a great time and I am thankful to have had the break, but I am also excited to be back at school with everyone. The nice thing about being back on campus and even being in classes is that the atmosphere, though serious, is relaxed. Every student works hard along with all the teachers and thanks to the honor system there is a huge amount of trust and a great relationship between the two. I was immediately reminded of this yesterday when my teacher taught us about Combinatorics (Math) with the aid of her dog. Yes, she gave her lecture while letting her dog roam the room. The feeling in the classroom was very relaxed and it was a nice way to ease back into school and the rigor of classes, and the dog was very cute. But it is not all fun and games, in that same class I have a problem set due tomorrow, so better finish that up. At least I have that dog to motivate me!

New Recruits

28 Jan

Seniors from High School are not the only people that want to come to Washington and Lee. There are also transfers and a number of students from abroad. But the people I want to talk about are the people who could be teaching you in the next few years, the teachers. I am a Math Major and currently the Math department is looking for a new teacher. Any guesses on how many applications have been received…. Almost. The number is over 500, around 575 I believe. Not the best chances to get the job, but the great thing about being at W&L is that for many students they get a chance to help their given departments. I was lucky enough to take one of the people interviewing for the job position in the Math department to lunch. It was a lot of fun and quite the honor. It shows you just how much the faculty and school value the opinions of the students because afterwards I had to give a report on the perspective teacher. (Overall, he passed with flying colors) So not only can you be involved with the teachers at the school now when at W&L, but you can help the school pick its teachers for the future!

My Professors Are Saints

28 Jan

As a Physics/Engineering major, I sometimes come across homework problems and parts of assignments that are over my head, even after reading the corresponding chapter in the book and rereading every detail I wrote down from class. The cool/difficult thing about engineering is that all the problems are applicational.  Every problem is different, and until I have trained my brain to think its way through a certain type of problem, there is no guarantee I will be able to solve it using an example from class or a previous problem.  There have been many times over my past 2 and a half years at this school when I have been completely stuck on an assignment.

What do I do when this happens?  I run into the open arms of my professors.  Not literally, since they are not all the hugging types, but they are always willing to assist me when I need them.  And if they are not in their offices, I hunt them down or post up outside their offices until they come back and then I don’t leave until I understand the information.  How annoying.  If I were them, I would start putting signs on my door like “Professor has moved to a different office” or “Not here, go away!”  My professors, on the other hand, are saints.  They have helped me think my way through difficult homework assignments an innumerable amount of times, and have uplifted me throughout my entire process of my understanding.

I would not survive this major without the constant willingness to help that is seen in all my professors.  My relationship with each and every one of them is extremely strong, and that is something that you can’t find at every university.  The professors at Washington and Lee are here to help students, and they make that very apparent.

Collaborate and listen!

14 Jan

Professor Eastwood (Sociology), myself, and Professor Dickovick (Politics) with the finished textbook!

A few of the greatest aspects about the Washington and Lee experience are the close relationships with professors, the endless opportunities to get involved on campus, and the liberal arts education that provides many ways to learn in order to make the most of your college experience.

This past fall I was able to participate in something that encapsulated all three of those great aspects. Following a summer of research funded by an R.E. Lee Grant, I worked with Professor’s Eastwood and Dickovick on supplementary materials to their recently published textbook. Having the opportunity to work directly with Professor’s who I admire was an invaluable experience that allowed me to really grow as a student. This kind of experience truly encapsulates the endless possibilities that students gain once they enroll at W&L. From Spring Term abroad to Summer Research to Individual Studies, students at W&L get to make their mark and will graduate having had unrivaled experiences.

Click here to read the article about the textbook on the W&L website!



Beauty and Surprise in Mathematics

1 Nov

One of my favorite things that happens at W&L are professor public lectures. Even if it’s the extra credit that brings you to the lecture, it will never be the only thing you take away. All the professors at W&L are not only extremely knowledgable about their field of study, but they are more passionate and excited about their work than any adults I have ever met. And when they get a chance to convey that passion and enthusiasm, they never disappoint.

This afternoon my calculus professor, Nathan Feldman, gave a talk about the beauty of math. I know, beauty in math? I was confused as well. The notes I take in class are definitely not always beautiful. But during this lecture I learned and saw many interesting patterns that can be found in math.Did you know?

  • There are over 500 proofs of the Pythagorean theorem, and former president James Garfield came up with one.

But what made the lecture really interesting was Professor Feldman’s passion and love for math.

And if you couldn’t take anything else from this post, here’s a Robert E. Lee Fun Fact I learned in Professor Feldman’s lecture: Robert E. Lee was actually an assistant math professor at West Point during his sophomore year of college!

Dining with Professors

28 Oct

Washington and Lee’s Hillel hosted a VIP (Very Interesting Professor) Dinner at the Sheridan Livery with Professor Art Goldsmith last week. With spots for only fourteen students the dinner provided an intimate environment to talk with Professor Goldsmith of the Economics Department and discuss his latest research.  At W&L professors are genuinely interested in learning and forming relationships with their students. The dinner was a great way for students to get to know Professor Goldsmith and share a delicious meal!

Students Perform W&L Professor’s Play Off-Off-Broadway

18 Oct

Over Reading Days, I travelled to New York City to perform in Naturalized Woman, a play about a Romanian refugee woman getting naturalized in America. Professor Domnica Radulescu, French professor and head of the Medieval and Renaissance Studies department, wrote the play based on her own escape from Ceaucescu’s dictatorship. Her play was one of twenty selected from 240 submissions to show at the Thespis Theater Festival at the off-off-Broadway Cabrini Theater. I played “Nina,” whom Professor Radulescu based on herself, and it was an incredible acting experience to work so closely with the playwright and learn about her fascinating life. Our three performances were well-received, and we had lots of New York-area W&L alums in the audience. The New York alum association hosted us at post-show cast party. My favorite part of the trip was our visit to a theater class at LaGuardia Community College in Queens. The class, comprised of recent immigrants and first generation Americans, had read  and strongly identified with Nina’s journey. They were very excited to ask us questions and see us perform scenes. It was a privilege to perform for such an enthusiastic audience.