Embrace the Experience

By Jackie Valles `19

As someone who graduated two years ago, it’s easy to look back on my experience at William & Mary with rose colored glasses, but the reality is that as a woman of color, my experience was extremely different from many of the other students I went to school with. Although it took some time to find my community, W&M provided a lot of learning lessons for the corporate world and life after. Hopefully these next few bits of my experience help you as a recent alumnus or as an incoming student.

My first takeaway is to always embrace your culture. I’m a proud Salvadoran and I make sure that everyone knows that. Embracing your culture will help you find people that are similar but also bring a unique character and perspective to campus. I was grateful to have done the PLUS program before orientation and joined Hermandad de Sigma Iota Alpha, Inc. which is W&M’s only Latina based sorority. My friends from PLUS and the women of SIA ended up being my soundboard and family during school (and now after graduating).  

My second takeaway would be to get out of your comfort zone. It’s easy to rely on and be with the same people all the time, but it’s not until you get out of your comfort zone that you begin to grow and find opportunities (this also applies to networking outside of your team once you join the workforce)! The scariest thing I did while being at school was join the admissions office. For a long time, I undervalued my experience and didn’t think I could give valuable insights to prospective students. Joining the team gave me the chance to see W&M through excited high school seniors and rising seniors at W&M who were involved in other areas of campus. This gave me a greater appreciation for the school! I quickly learned that so many people go W&M for different reasons (my reason was money/financial aid). Being able to leave your comfort zone will also help after graduation because you may have to build your own community. I was lucky to start at a company that had an Employee Resource Group dedicated to helping Latinx professionals, but this is not always the case.

Lastly, I would appreciate all the experiences that W&M has to offer (whether good or bad). I know many black and brown students sometimes feel like they don’t belong or are kept on the outskirts of W&M because I felt that way. But, even through those feelings, I was able to leave my mark on the school and make friends for a lifetime. Appreciate the space you are in and know that you are uniquely you, take charge to make change, and you will be looking back reminiscing with rose colored glasses as well.

Connect with Jackie on LinkedIn.

Grad School

The Importance of Health and Wellness During Grad School

By Haider Alistaire MSBA ’21

One of the most important things that we rarely think about when in grad school is our mental/physical health. We are so focused on getting good grades and finding a job/internship that we start skipping meals, workout time, social time, sleep, etc. We rarely think about the toll that all that stress is taking on us. We become anxious when things don’t go the way we want and eventually become depressed and start doing worse.

The main thing to remember when being in grad school is that you can’t control everything around you. There are so many factors that will affect your time in school. You had a bad professor, family issues, relationships issues, you got sick and I could go on but you get the idea. Don’t focus on what you can’t control and focus on what you can.

Your mental/physical health is very important and the school has a ton of resources that are at your disposal. The school offers Fitwell classes that include Cycling, Yoga, Body Pump, Cardio, Dance, painting, etc… There are even fencing and kendo stick classes. The classes are offered at various times throughout the day(including weekends) in different locations. You can either go to the rec center or you can attend those classes at the Amphitheatre which is my favorite spot!!

Beautiful scenery, fresh air, and a relaxing environment where you can workout with others. The school also has a rock-climbing wall, a swimming pool, a tennis court, track, basketball court, etc… All available whenever you want. So if you feel like you have been sitting at the computer for too long or just need a break from schoolwork, go attend those classes. They are amazing and fun and will become a huge part of your time at William & Mary. The school also has resources for mental health, you can get a therapist assigned to you, or attend group meetings, counseling, etc. The school has a Wellness podcast that comes out weekly and talks about various topics on how to improve mental health. There is also the nod app, which is designed for students and various needs they might have. I personally met with a counselor biweekly and would meet with the sleep counselor every now and then for tips on how to improve my sleep.

Anyways, I could tell you everything that the school has to offer, but what I am trying to say is, the most important thing when at grad school is YOU!! If you are not at your 100% you won’t be able to perform at 100%. Take a break, go for a walk, hang out with friends, take a cycling class, talk to a professional if you are feeling down. Do everything you can to make sure you are getting an A in self-care, because that will determine how well you do and will ensure that you have a wonderful time. Reach out for help when you need to and always, always, always remember to take care of yourself.