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.

Tips Welcome to the City Series

What is Possible for You?

By Denée Reaves ’11

Hello! Hi! Hello! My name is Denée Reaves and I am a Wealth Coach at, and founder of Focused Work. Through my coaching, I assist women who are facing financial challenges remove the roadblocks that prevent them from living the life they want for themselves and their families. I am also a proud alum of the College of William and Mary, class of 2011 (ten-year anniversary this year!)

Today I want to talk to you about your values. But first, I want to acknowledge that first half of 2021 have been A LOT. Between working from home and being super busy at work, and getting my coaching certificate, I have been B U S Y. I’m sure that you all have been too. And sometimes when we get busy, we also get tunnel vision, focusing on the next thing to make sure everything gets done. So I want to open your thinking a little bit in this post, and have you consider: what is possible for you?

I started my blog to take people along my financial journey so they would know they weren’t alone, provide some tips on how to manage your finances, and hopefully explain some financial jargon in more digestible terms. What I realized is that there was so much more possible for me. I took a six-month hiatus from blogging to explore these possibilities, and, as a result, have started a successful Wealth Coaching practice. I’ve taken all I’ve learned from personal experience, and from coaching training and am helping my clients discover and explore what is possible for them, in their finances and in their life. We focus on what they are deeply passionate about and align their financial decisions to that. And I want to offer a bit of that to you all here!

This is the biggest piece of wisdom I’ve gained through my wealth journey: Financial fitness and financial freedom is all about choices. This is not to ignore the very real restrictions and disadvantages caused by racist policies and systems that are built to help the rich get richer and the poor poorer. However, when we consciously and completely reject that there is only one path to financial freedom, we open up a whole new way of thinking. Madam C. J. Walker didn’t become the first female self-made millionaire in the United States by following the beaten path. Neither did Steve Jobs start his Apple empire by following the crowd.

We are taught that there is one path to managing our finances. Get an education and then get a high paying job, whether or not it’s a job we love. Buy a house and a car; contribute to your 401k. Make sure to be in debt but only be in debt responsibly. (That one particularly gets my goat.) This path isn’t wrong. It just isn’t for everyone.

We are not making our financial choices from the right place. We make them from what has been done in the past, or from a place of fear. But there is another way! And I’m challenging you to do it differently.

What if you value travel and would prefer a nomadic life style? What if you wanted to pay for everything in cash and not worry about credit cards? What if you saw a need in your community and decided to fill that gap? What if instead of a college degree, you’ve started a business out of high school that you’re passionate about? What if you made financial choices based on honoring your values?

How we use, manage and regulate our finances should align completely with what brings us value, not what brings society value. Money should be a resource to fund the lifestyle that makes us feel most alive. It should definitely not be the driving force in our decision making.

This all sounds well and good Denée, but how do I go about this? Well, I’m glad you asked! My answer is: take some time for yourself!

Maybe you can only swing 5 minutes, but try and take at least 30. Get some pen and paper (yes old school, no computers!) and start jotting down some thoughts. Ask yourself: What do I want more of? What am I passionate about? What makes me feel most alive? What am I naturally inclined to? You may be surprised what you come up with. Then ask yourself, how do my financial decisions align with these discoveries? That’s where you’ll really get some insights, and potentially some clear first steps toward your own unique path to financial fitness.

If you take away anything from this blog it should be this: you decide your financial path! Don’t limit yourself because society has only presented you with one. Channel that inner child and use your imagination. Ask what is possible. Make choices from your values instead of from fear. Explore non-traditional ways of living that can better your finances, and more importantly, your peace of mind. The possibilities are endless.

Connect with Denée on LinkedIn.