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.