Career & Networking Maintaining Connections Tribe Athletics Undergraduate Experience

The Transformative Power of People

By Braxton Hicks ’15, M.Acc. ’16

Hi! My name is Braxton and in light of Professional Development Week being near, I wanted to reflect a bit on my time at William & Mary and how it helped shape my career (and really my life as I know it). Quick background on me: I got my Bachelor of Science in human factor physics from W&M back in 2015, and then got my Master of Accounting from the Raymond A. Mason School of Business a year later in 2016. I played on the W&M Football team during that time and was involved in a few pretty cool extracurriculars, so naturally I had a lot of time on my hands! Since then, I’ve gone on to get my Ph.D., work for NASA at the Johnson Space Center, and now I work as a UX (user experience) researcher at Google. Not bad for a few years post-grad! If you can believe it, though, I can trace those achievements back to three very specific moments at W&M. This might sound like one long ad for the university, but truthfully — it isn’t. It’s about people. In three conversations, the people at W&M changed my life … and I’d like to tell you about them.

William & Mary is an interesting place. You grow, you fail, you learn, and if you’re lucky, you meet a few truly exceptional people who change your life for the better. Coming into W&M, we’re all told that the students you’ll meet will be the brightest minds in the world. With this, I couldn’t agree more. As much fun as I had learning and growing with my peers, it was the relationships and experiences I had with faculty and staff that made it a truly special place. I had the pleasure of interacting with several impactful faculty during my time at W&M, but I’d like to quickly highlight three people in particular and how they led me to my post-undergrad adventures.

For a W&M student-athlete, there are few people as invested in your success as Jason Simms, then academic advisor for the athletics department. For my final year at W&M, I’d planned to be in grad school. Unfortunately, weeks before graduation, I found out that the grad program I’d planned to join was to be discontinued. Shocked and unsure of what to do, I knew where I could get help. I ran over to Jason’s office and, in a bit of a panic, explained the situation. Jason assured me that we’d find a way through this together, and immediately helped me find another grad program that worked for my situation. He sat with me and helped me pick up the pieces of a broken plan to formulate a new one. Truthfully, I’m not sure what I would’ve done without Jason’s guidance and quick action; I certainly wouldn’t have found the Master of Accounting program — and it was there that the direction of my life really shifted.

The M.Acc. program was pretty intense. I wasn’t really performing at my best and while I was leaving early from a tough class, visibly downtrodden, Dean Todd Mooradian spotted me in a stairwell and asked two very powerful questions: “How are you?” and “How can I help?” This was our first time meeting. We had several conversations after that in which I shared my post-W&M dreams with him, and he became a vital mentor. Unbeknownst to me, Dean Mooradian reached out to a few professors outside of W&M to share my story. One of these professors wrote back and asked to meet with me. This turned out to be the beginning of my Ph.D. (and ultimately Google) career. Few people in my life have had as significant an impact as Dean Mooradian. His proactiveness and willingness to connect sparked a monumental change in the direction of my life.

As my time at W&M was coming to a close, I had some good leads on where to go next, but at that stage, nothing concrete. Without knowledge of a direct next step, I was referred by a mentor to chat with Vice Provost for Research and Graduate/Professional Studies Dennis Manos to ask for advice. He listened, challenged and pushed me to think broadly and ambitiously.  Professor Manos took it upon himself to connect me with a head researcher at NASA’s Langley Research Center, inadvertently launching my career at NASA. What amazes me here is not only Professor Manos’ willingness to meet with me, but also to extend himself to forge a connection for me at a place as prestigious as NASA.  

As I reflected on those three experiences, I noticed a few common themes that could be framed as learnings here. The first thing I noticed is that these people showed up for me at low moments, not high ones. Each of these three people stepped in during moments of great uncertainty and were willing to act. Their actions during those moments of inflection reshaped not only the current situation, but they reshaped my perspective as well. Given that theme, I try to see those low moments as opportunities to reframe my thinking and become larger and better than I thought. One other theme I noticed was that these people sought to connect with me having no guarantee of dividends or knowledge of what I’d go on to do. They chose to invest in a person, not a product or a goal. I’ve since felt compelled to do the same for myself and others. There are several benefits to building connections, but I’ve learned that there’s power, transformative power, in building people.

Connect with Braxton on LinkedIn.


The Yule Log at America’s Two Colonial Colleges Turned Public Universities

By Paul Soltis ’16

William & Mary and Rutgers are the only two of the nine “Colonial colleges” founded in British North America before the American Revolution to eschew the Ivy League and instead take on the roles of state universities. As a William & Mary alumnus working for the State Park Service of New Jersey, I enjoy a special place connecting and sharing the long histories of both Colonial colleges turned public universities.

Greetings from the Garden State. I’m Paul Soltis ’16 from Lawrence Township, New Jersey, more famously the hometown of my William & Mary predecessor Jon Stewart ’84. I grew up with an interest in the American Revolution, and even more important, our public stewardship of state parks and historic sites in this corridor of the “Crossroads of the American Revolution” that includes Washington Crossing State Park, Trenton Battle Monument and Princeton Battlefield State Park. For me, it’s not Fourth of July fireworks or autumn leaves on battlefields but the shorter days, longer nights and colder temperatures of the festive season that evoke the Revolutionary War. In New Jersey, we remember the “Ten Crucial Days” when George Washington (holder of a surveyor’s license from William & Mary and the college’s first American Chancellor, even if not a full alumnus) and a small but diverse band of soldiers and camp followers crossed the Delaware River on Christmas night and engaged British forces including Hessians and Highlanders at Trenton and Princeton from Dec. 26, 1776, to Jan. 3, 1777.

I work for the State Park Service of New Jersey as historian for Wallace House & Old Dutch Parsonage State Historic Sites. Wallace House served as George Washington’s winter headquarters during the Revolutionary War’s 1778-79 Middlebrook Cantonment. Old Dutch Parsonage is the historic home of the founder and first president of Queen’s College — today Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey . At William & Mary, I worked in the Spotswood Society as a proctor of the Wren Building and in Campus Recreation as a patron services assistant for the Student Recreation Center. Serving students, faculty, staff and guests at these two facilities at opposite ends of our campus and centuries apart in our history, I valued this unique perspective on the whole stretch of our university life. Now, as historian for 18th-century historic houses that today belong to New Jersey’s State Parks, Forests & Historic Sites as part of our Department of Environmental Protection, I enjoy working again in public service where the diverse needs of natural and historic resources come together for the benefit of the people of New Jersey.

The first of New Jersey’s “Colonial colleges” was the College of New Jersey, today Princeton University. They proposed to name their college building in honor of the Royal Governor of New Jersey, Jonathan Belcher. Gov. Belcher turned down the honor, fearing the jokes generations of students would make with “Belcher Hall” at the heart of campus — OK, no, that’s my attempt at a joke — but Gov. Belcher did turn down the honor, wishing instead to honor a figure of the recent past, the late King William III of our William & Mary. The College of New Jersey christened their new building Nassau Hall in reference to William III’s Dutch titles Prince of Orange and Count of Nassau, and generations later Princeton University kept the allusion going with the adoption of orange and black as its signature colors. Meanwhile, according to Swem Library’s Special Collections Research Center, William & Mary tried out orange and black for the same reason, as well as orange and white to include the white rose of York for Queen Mary II, but eventually settled on green and gold after the rediscovery of William & Mary’s Coat of Arms.

Unlike Virginia, where the Church of England was established in the Colonial era and as such the government sponsored an Anglican college at William & Mary, 18th-century New Jersey had no established church, allowing for the proliferation of a variety of religious traditions, at least among dissenting Protestant denominations. Rev. Jacob Rutsen Hardenbergh, in residence at today’s Old Dutch Parsonage, led the effort to charter a second college in New Jersey for the specific purpose of educating in the Dutch Reformed tradition. The Royal Governor, by then William Franklin, son of Benjamin Franklin (first recipient of an honorary degree from William & Mary), granted a charter for Queen’s College on Nov. 10, 1766, making New Jersey the only colony of British North America to host more than one college before the American Revolution.

Women’s education came to the Colonial colleges at William & Mary and Rutgers in the momentous fall of 1918, the same season when the Armistice took effect on the Western Front in World War I and the influenza pandemic called the “Spanish Flu” gripped the globe’s public health. That semester, women enrolled at William & Mary for the first time, while the College for Women opened in New Jersey as a sister to Rutgers College. Actor and activist Paul Robeson began his senior year at Rutgers College, and both the College for Women and William & Mary saw campus closures to stop the spread of Spanish Flu. I was surprised to learn that the first students at the College for Women, later renamed Douglass College for their founder and first dean Mabel Smith Douglass, arranged a Yule Log as a festive conclusion to their first semester in 1918, a decade and a half before William & Mary adopted a similar tradition in the 1930s. Like our Yule Log, the College for Women’s Yule Log has grown over the years to include a variety of faith traditions and diverse perspectives, and it remains a cherished tradition of the modern Douglass Residential College, today a residential program of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.

Drawing from these traditions, I’ve adopted a “Colonial Colleges” Yule Log as a seasonal fixture for our historical interpretation at Old Dutch Parsonage State Historic Site, sharing the long histories of these two Colonial colleges turned public universities with our New Jersey audiences, adding one more flame to the festive fires rising this time of year from Douglass Residential College at Rutgers, the shores of the Delaware River at Washington Crossing State Park, and the Great Hall at William & Mary.

Watch the Colonial Colleges Yule Log 2020.

Connect with Paul on LinkedIn.

Undergraduate Experience

Cementing Love for Publishing

By Bezawit Yohannes ’18

It’s somewhat paradoxical to say that my journey to get into publishing was both fairly straightforward and also a story of taking advantage of unconventional opportunities — and yet both are true.

I’m happy to say the most straightforward parts were because of the Office of Career Development & Professional Engagement at William & Mary. As early as my freshman year, I knew I intended to major in English and that I wanted to go into some kind of career in media. I began going to the Cohen Career Center to edit my resume as I took on extracurriculars that could help me apply for media-related jobs. A William & Mary alumnus at a W&M career fair helped me get my first full-time internship, as a creative copywriting intern for the Wolf Trap Center for the Performing Arts. And most importantly, I attended the biannual Ferguson Blair Publishing Seminar and learned more about the publishing industry from other alumni who had jobs spanning several publishing houses and media corporations. Attending that seminar cemented my career goal in my mind; I knew I wanted to get into book publishing.

However, from listening to the speakers share their experiences, I knew that entry-level positions in the industry were incredibly competitive, and I’d have to be willing to pursue any and every opportunity, even if it seemed circuitous. I also knew that as a young Black woman looking for representation in the fantastical stories I loved, I would have to work 10 times as hard to articulate my vision for what I knew I could contribute to the industry.

After I studied abroad at the University of Oxford (thanks to my scholarship through the 1693 Scholars Program), I developed an honors project under Professor  Hermine Pinson focusing on Afrofuturist literature by Black authors. Working on the project led me to a decades-long history of Black authors in speculative fiction, while showing me how needed a diversity of Black voices, especially Black women, still was in fantasy literature. At the same time, my honors thesis re-ignited my passion for children’s literature, and I began to follow new Black authors publishing exciting young adult fantasy.

I wasn’t ready to leave my research behind, so I attended Georgetown University to get my masters in English, but I never stopped working toward entering publishing. The challenge was that publishing, especially pre-pandemic, was centered in New York, and that wasn’t financially feasible for me at the time. Once again, it was W&M’s Office of Career Development & Professional Engagement that offered me the answer. I applied for the Ferguson-Blair $5,000 scholarship to attend the Denver Publishing Institute (DPI) — the perfect way to get the experience of a publishing graduate certification without having to find expensive housing for an underpaid internship in New York City.

I had built a #bookstagram platform where I shared my reviews of Black fantasy and young adult novels I loved. The speakers at DPI helped me realize that editorial was only one of many sectors of the publishing industry, and if I broadened my scope, my own social media could be my way in. By promoting books, authentically engaging my audience and creating content in partnership with various publishers, I had developed the marketing skills I needed to pivot into digital marketing at a publishing house.

When the pandemic hit in 2020, it was those skills, and the networking connections I gained from DPI, that led to my first full-time job as a digital marketing assistant at Penguin Young Readers (PYR) — all the more miraculous because it was one of the first jobs available after a months-long hiring freeze. After two years at PYR developing marketing campaigns and video content for social media to promote a variety of titles across age categories, I joined Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing as a marketing coordinator, making a smaller shift from digital to title marketing.

My publishing journey continues to evolve, but the foundations were laid by my time at W&M. I’m so grateful to the folks at the Career Center and to the Ferguson-Blair Publishing Seminar for starting me down this path and cementing my love for publishing.

Connect with Bezi on LinkedIn.

Association of 1775 Undergraduate Experience

Challenge the Status Quo

By Christian Chisolm ’18, M.B.A. ’24

Howdy! Christian here, and I graduated from William & Mary in 2018. I commissioned into the Army as an armor officer from the W&M Army ROTC. I am a current MBA candidate at the Raymond A. Mason School of Business, and I am officially an old cranky veteran. Boy, how time flies! With Veterans Day right around the corner, I have done a bit of reflection on my time in military service and how William & Mary prepared me for it.

As many of you know, four years at William & Mary can be quite a humbling experience. W&M houses some of the brightest individuals on the planet who will challenge your mind daily. Former military science faculty members Lt. Col. James Kimbrough, Lt. Col. Dustin Menhart and Maj. William Chesher were the epitome of military and academic achievement. Every day, these gentlemen pushed us cadets to excel in all aspects of their military and academic performances. Their lofty standards for excellence created some of the best officers I have ever seen and had the pleasure to serve beside. William & Mary, despite the size of the program at the time, had a reputation in the Army to uphold: physically tough and mentally sharp officers who would leave an immediate impact on whatever team they served on.

Although I am no longer in the Army, I loved my job. To quote the movie “Fury” starring Brad Pitt, serving as an armor officer was “the best Job I ever had!” Ever since I was a kid, I loved tanks. When I was a child, I used to build Lego tank sets and wear tank slippers everywhere I went. Although I have always had a fascination with tanks, I never imagined myself ever serving in the U.S. Army as a tanker. I should have known I would end up in the Army, though, as my family has always joked that “the Army is the family business!” Many of my family members have served, including my role model, my father, Keith Chisolm P ’18.

While in the Army, I had the opportunity to lead one of the first fully inclusive combat units with women. My proudest achievement was incorporating new teammates into roles they previously were denied, while creating more inclusive workspaces for all. On my team of 16, I had four female-identifying soldiers. My team would go on to travel all over the U.S. and Europe together, breaking boundaries and demonstrating the power of diversity. To this day, leading this amazing team is my proudest achievement. I would like to thank William & Mary for offering me the opportunity to share a little bit about my time in the Army and would like to leave a bit of advice. Continue to always challenge the status quo! One thing William & Mary teaches us all is that the world is complex and sometimes flat-out weird: It is our duty to make sense of this craziness and change the world for the better! Roll Tribe!

Follow along with Christian on Instagram and connect with him on LinkedIn.

Maintaining Connections Order of the White Jacket Undergraduate Experience

Order of the White Jacket – 50th Anniversary

By Gwendylan Turner ’20

Hello all! My name is Gwendylan Turner, and I graduated in 2020 with a B.S. in chemistry and minor in physics. After a year of working in industry during COVID-19, I started the continuation of my studies in analytical chemistry at Purdue University (West Lafayette, Indiana). Please do not hesitate to reach out if you find yourself amongst the Indiana corn!

Fortunately for us (but unfortunately for this post), the William & Mary experience cannot be reduced to a mere 600 words. That said, I was able to trade a weekend in the Midwest for a visit to our alma mater this past Homecoming & Reunion Weekend, and I had a chance to ruminate on a few things. Particularly, I attended a reception celebrating the 50th anniversary for the Order of the White Jacket (OWJ), an organization centered around giving scholarships to William & Mary students working in food service. I was a recipient of this scholarship for three of my four years of undergrad, and its altruistic intentions beckoned my involvement post-graduation; I began serving on OWJ’s board in December 2020.

The “white jackets” in the “Order of the White Jacket” refers to the jackets the founders wore during their time at W&M. The founders of OWJ attended William & Mary on sports scholarships. At that time, working in the university dining hall (the uniform being white jackets) was a condition of said scholarship. Rather than fall to acridity over their position on the serving, rather than the celebrating, side of festivities, they decided to ascend to philanthropy, starting a scholarship foundation centered around this shared experience. There is so much to love about this organization: participation in an intergenerational legacy; a community of diverse, well-intentioned people; and most of all, a unique appreciation for food service. No one is exempt from the necessity of nourishment, and, ultimately, serving someone food and providing them with an experience is one of the most humbling, yet ordinary tasks.

Having worked seven years in food service during my most formative time, I have a novel’s worth of material to pull from. Here, I hope just to give some insight.

As a first-generation, low-income student, I consistently chose food service positions to support myself because they guaranteed at least one thing in addition to the pay: a hot meal. Working for the campus Qdoba gave me so much more, though. My full-time coworkers gave me a sense of familiarity in a way that my more affluent peers could not, my student coworkers gave me much-needed company (and shenanigans) during all the football games I could not attend, and my participation as part of OWJ has given me an opportunity to give back to an experience that I heavily value.

As part of the OWJ celebration, we started a project with SWEM archives to piece together parts of OWJ’s history. I was pleased to see that my amazing former coworker and current scholarship recipient, Sophia, donated her Qdoba uniform. It is pictured to the left next to Jim Anthony’s original white jacket. Though the color of our uniforms may change, our spirit and dedication to the William & Mary community remains unchanged.

I appreciate this platform to tell my story, but I welcome yours, too. If you are a past recipient of an OWJ scholarship, Dre Taylor is heading our OWJ oral history project. You can reach out to me at or anyone on the board for a link to a short survey or Dre’s contact information for a more extensive interview. If you are a past or present recipient and interested in getting involved or serving on the board, please don’t hesitate to contact me at the same address.  

Thanks so much for reading! Enjoy your October!

Follow along with Gwen on Instagram and connect with her on LinkedIn.

W&M Women

Celebrating W&M Women

By Ingrid Braun ’19

One thing I believe all past and present students can agree on is that William & Mary is a special place. A big component making it such a special place are the people. Everyone from the dining hall employees, librarians, maintenance crew, groundskeepers, RAs, classmates, professors and everyone in between shaped our experiences on campus.

As an alumna, my relationship with William & Mary continues to evolve, most recently at Women’s Weekend. From Sept. 16-18, women from all over gathered in Williamsburg to attend panel discussions, keynotes, breakout sessions and Mary Talks. When I first received an invitation to attend this event sponsored by the Society of 1918, I signed up almost immediately. I saw this not only as an opportunity to visit campus, but a chance to connect with other Society of 1918 members. The Society of 1918, if you are not familiar with it, was founded in 2018 in honor of the 100th year of coeducation. An endowment was established to support various alumnae initiatives programs bringing together William & Mary women to strengthen their bonds with one another and alma mater. Engagement opportunities are vast — from a volunteer university board to society events, mentoring, networking and advocating on behalf of the university.

I joined the Society of 1918 to begin giving back to a school that has given me so much, but I quickly found the society providing me with much more than I ever could have imagined — Women’s Weekend was no exception.

After a surprisingly quick drive down to Williamsburg from Northern Virginia on a Friday evening (only 2.5 hours!), I was excited to head down Richmond Road to the recently completed Alumni House. Upon entering the reception, I was very quickly reminded of why I joined the Society of 1918 and remain active at William & Mary. Within minutes of arriving, I heard “Ingrid! Ingrid! Ingrid!” echoing out from various voices. After a few moments of frantically looking around the room I spotted the source — a group of Society of 1918 women I had met on a trip last year to Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Taos! They all said they instantly knew it was me when they saw my cowboy boots, which I had bought on our trip in Santa Fe. Skip, the photographer, was quickly called over to capture our “reunion” and in that moment I knew I was surrounded by a special group of women. The passion, selflessness and love of William & Mary was evident from each and every individual at Women’s Weekend.

Each of the breakout sessions, panel discussions and Mary Talks were expertly planned and featured phenomenal William & Mary women. Topics varied greatly, from “Women, Sports and Social Change” to “Women in Marine Science” to “Storytelling for Results.” Behind-the-scenes campus tours were also available featuring the Tribe Square Entrepreneurship Hub, Hearth: Memorial to the Enslaved, Integrated Science Center (ISC), and Kaplan Arena. (The Entrepreneurship Hub is located where The Crust once was!) After a busy day we all gathered for a lovely wine, cheese and chocolate reception in Sadler. From there, I headed back to the Alumni House for the Society of 1918 Stewardship Dinner, where I was reminded, once again, how special this group of women are. In a mere matter of minutes, we raised $250,000 to reach (and exceed!) the $5-million goal for the Alumnae Initiatives Endowment. The generosity of these women is all-encompassing and knows no bounds.

On Sunday, when I left Williamsburg to drive back up to Northern Virginia, I found myself overflowing with Tribe Pride, new friends and, of course, a Cheese Shop sandwich.

Follow along with Ingrid on Instagram and connect with her on LinkedIn.

Tips Uncategorized Undergraduate Experience

W&M Learnings

By Jena Araojo ’19

Hello members of the Tribe! My name is Jena Araojo and I graduated in 2019 with a BBA in Marketing, a concentration in Consulting, and a minor in Sociology. I work in Washington DC at Deloitte Consulting and I am currently traveling the country while teleworking! When I was in college I was part of the business fraternity Alpha Kappa Psi, a member of Students for University Advancement, and I was the HR Director for Agency 1693. I also had the coolest job working in Sadler Center & Campus Center as one of the Building Managers. Most importantly and probably the highlight of my time in college, I studied abroad at the University of Limerick in Ireland for a semester. To those considering studying abroad – do it! When else will you spend 4 months integrated in another culture with the opportunity to travel to different countries each weekend?

My relationship with W&M started at a young age. At ages 3 and 8 I was on campus for summer programs, only to tell my mom “when I get bigger, I am going to go here for real.” Fast-forward to 2015 and my family and I were the first 2 cars parked outside my dorm ready to move in! I look back and laugh to think that I was certain I would need every dorm decoration and piece of clothing with me on campus, even my winter coats in August. Note to my younger self and current freshmen, cycle out your clothing when you go home for breaks. Your closet is but so big!

I wish I had a conventional freshman experience with funny anecdotes to share, but on the second day of classes I tripped up the steps in Millington, a since torn down building, where I shattered my foot. Now back home for 6 weeks for surgery and recovery, I was trying to catch up virtually at home and I missed out on the bonding experiences that most freshmen have to assimilate to college. I wanted to take a leave of absence, however, my network from the PLUS program, the Dean of Students Office, and my professors provided accommodations and resources that allowed me to push through and stay on campus. During that period of frustration and assimilation I learned my first life lesson, the importance of asking for help. Whether it was needing additional tutoring support, attending a lot of office hours and TA sessions, or reaching out to friends for support when I was down, W&M created an environment for me to thrive if I advocated for myself.

Second, I learned the power of pivoting and persevering. Throughout college I faced many uphill battles where I was close to giving up. I applied to the business school as a major 4 times before getting in and I spent many hours preparing for my dream job interview post college. I have to give my mom credit in reminding me to pivot when things went awry so I could persevere towards what I wanted, even if it would take longer to get there than I planned.

The last lesson I learned in college is how important the friendships I made would be. There is nothing like living a 5-minute walk from your friends or heading down to Sadler for Late Night together. So my best piece of advice for current students is to enjoy every minute of your time on campus, especially during your senior year. Do as many activities as possible and spend time with your friends because once you graduate you will miss those moments. Although bittersweet, is it always comforting to know that regardless of where you go after college, there is a W&M alumni community waiting to welcome you!

My friends know I am a walking advertisement for W&M and so it surprised no one when I became a Class Ambassador and then a W&M DC Alumni Chapter Board Member in 2021! On the board, I get to plan and host events for the thousands of alumni and their families who live across the DMV area. From celebrating Yule Log and Charter Day, to throwing social events like trivia nights or picnics on the National Mall, to community service and educational events, there are a lot of opportunities for alumni to reconnect or make new friends. Staying involved as an alumna has allowed me to welcome the newest graduates to the W&M DMV alumni community as they look to find a new group of friends in the city! It is really special to see new alumni say they are glad they have a community to reach out to as their first network once they move to DC.

Needless to say, being a member of the Tribe was meant to be and I could not see myself attending a different university and I am excited to continue my time as an involved alumna. To all the current students, know that when you graduate, there will be a W&M alumni community in your area ready to welcome you home.

Connect with Jena on LinkedIn.

Maintaining Connections Tribe Athletics Uncategorized

Embracing Every Opportunity

By Kristie Wei ’15

When I began college in the Fall of 2011, I never expected my experience would end up the way that it did. Unlike most William & Mary students, my journey to the ‘Burg didn’t begin until the end of my freshman year (of college). Being a student-athlete, I was recruited by schools around the country and initially landed at a school 3,000 miles away in California. After a brief health scare, leading to a suboptimal freshman year, I knew I needed to put myself first and began seeking new opportunities closer to home.

The transfer process was challenging for many reasons, but ultimately I found my way to the small, quaint town of Williamsburg, VA – funny story, I actually committed and submitted my deposit to attend before I even had a chance to visit in person. Luckily, it all worked out – I was welcomed with open arms by the entire community and never looked back.

My three years at the College absolutely flew by – from early morning cardio workouts during pre-season, to the many, many late nights at Swem (and the Delis, too), I completely immersed myself in this new college experience and didn’t take a single day for granted. Sure, there were some trying times throughout – but I can confidently say that I have absolutely no regrets.

William & Mary not only offered me a second chance to live out my childhood dreams of competing as a Division I athlete, it also helped shape me into the person I am today and gave me some pretty cool lifelong friends in the process.

Fast forward to today, although it’s been seven years since I walked across the Crim Dell with the class of 2015, the experiences I had at W&M still guide me in my journey post-college. It has been through the connections that I’ve built and lessons that I’ve learned that have propelled me into a successful career spanning multiple industries including finance, consulting and now cybersecurity.
The most valuable lessons I learned at W&M are ones that can’t be found on my transcript or resume – work hard, don’t be afraid to take risks and embrace every opportunity that comes your way. In life, every ending may just be the best new beginning. I’m forever grateful for my time at W&M and am looking forward to connecting with more of the Tribe in years to come!

One Tribe, One Family.

Follow along with Kristie on Instagram and connect with her on LinkedIn.

LatinX Maintaining Connections

William & Mary Feels Like Home

By Thalia Hernandez ’18

William & Mary feels like home. With a parent in the Air Force, I moved around constantly as a kid so whenever people asked me where I grew up, I could only come up with non-answers: “everywhere,” “I moved around a lot,” “kind of Northern Virginia but only for half of my childhood?,” and on it goes. I hadn’t realized I never had a well-prepared answer to this question until freshman year at William & Mary, when this get-to-know-you question came up again and again. However, by the time I graduated in 2018, William & Mary had forever woven itself into the tapestry of where I’m from.

Like many 17 year olds, I came to college with just a slight idea of the kind of person I hoped to be. Ultimately, my time at W&M left me indelibly changed as a stronger, more well-rounded person. For this I have to thank the people I got to know: friends, classmates, club leaders, engaging and caring professors, my coworkers at Sadler Center and Campus Center, and those special strangers I made eye contact with who always went to the dining hall at the same time as me.

My friends brought experiences from all over the country and the world, unwavering support, and a life-long community stronger than I’d ever known. My professors expanded my worldview (thanks, French department), gave me the tools to do my own digging (thanks, Anthropology), and taught me how to thoughtfully see the power dynamics in every situation (thanks, Linguistics)! I especially valued the LGBTQ community on campus – diverse and diffuse as it is – which was unapologetic, authentic, and brimming with leaders.

I was lucky enough to find community in a variety of clubs focusing on LGBTQ campus life, environmental issues, reproductive justice, Latin American student community, and more. These organizations taught me not only the importance of leadership and service, but also how to be a leader with real hands-on experience. This included the necessary skills of planning, teaching, facilitation, how to build and hold together communities, plus lots and lots of organization (Google docs galore).

Without knowing it at the time, this would be crucial to helping me figure out my next career steps after college, as I eventually applied to work at nonprofits, especially those working with the LGBTQ community. Not to mention, I could point directly to my years of student organization leadership as direct job experience. I continued to use these skills in my jobs after college so I’m grateful for those who encouraged me to get involved with campus life. 

Looking ahead as I transition careers, I’m hoping to gain experience abroad teaching English in France. This exciting possibility is only open to me because I had great relationships with French professors, an unforgettable summer study abroad in France, a strong foundation in the studies of culture and linguistics, and experience as a mentor and facilitator thanks to student organizations. And of course, the friendships I made have continued to support me every step of the way. William & Mary allowed me to cultivate my passions and build long-lasting relationships that continue to shape who I am and where I’m going. For these reasons, William & Mary is a place I will always call home. 

Connect with Thalia on LinkedIn.


W&M Style

By Delia Folk ’14

During the spring of my Sophomore year, I decided that I was going to apply to the business school & major in Marketing. After graduation, I was planning to move to NYC and work in the fashion industry. The team at William & Mary both in The Career Center and business school were very helpful in figuring out how to get my foot in the door to the highly competitive fashion industry, and I am forever grateful for their efforts!

I loved all the classes I took at William & Mary, especially in the business school. There was one class on entrepreneurship that particularly stood out to me. For one assignment, we were tasked with coming up with an idea for a company and pitch it to the professor. Although I was not considering starting a business of my own when I was in college, the exercise got my wheels turning & was an unexpected foreshadowing assignment. 

My experience at William & Mary was extremely dynamic and allowed me to dabble in a variety of interests such as music, history, English and more. After graduating, moving to NYC & starting my fashion career, William & Mary (thankfully!) keeps bringing me back. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the people who gave me their time, insights & connections, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to do so for others. While I may no longer live in Williamsburg, VA, the experience and impactful time I had while in college comes with me wherever I go.  

Many of the skills I learned at William & Mary have aided me throughout my entrepreneurship journey. My Marketing major has proven invaluable in learning to establish and raise brand awareness. Becoming an out-of-the-box thinker and problem solver are some skills I picked up at W&M that I have applied to The Style That Binds Us. 

We started The Style That Binds Us to pull back the curtain on the fashion industry and allow access to our peers, community and clients. I am thrilled that we have been able to help the William & Mary community live their most stylish and fearless lives through podcast interviews, webinars with Society of 1918 & CrimDell Small Business Network, blog posts, panels with The Career Center and more. 

Follow along with Delia on Instagram and connect with her on LinkedIn.