Grad School Health & Wellness

More Life

By DeLauren Olivia Davis, M.Ed. ‘18

Whether you’re gearing up to finish a strong third quarter or refueling yourself to start the academic year 2021-2022, I hope that you’re taking care of yourself. Since we were slammed with the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 it feels like “self care” has become a frivolous buzz phrase to throw around when convenient. I do my best to take it seriously, remember it’s origin in meaning and assign it value in my life. In doing this I endeavor to model it so that others feel empowered to do so themselves.

My transformative journey to self care started at William and Mary (W&M). Like most TWAMPS (Typical William and Mary Persons/Students) I double majored in academics and a robust extracurricular life. I often tell people that I experienced two full burnouts as an undergraduate student. This isn’t a point of bolstering pride for me, but it is more so a testimony that there was a crucial life lesson for me to learn. Attending a public ivy league institution and being a campus leader for countless student organizations (I literally can’t keep track of all of the campus engagements that I found myself in) is no easy feat. It was simultaneously fulfilling and unsustainable— as are many things that we enjoy but over indulge in. The symptoms of my burn out were failed and withdrawn classes, neglect of family and friends, lack of regular physical activity and healthy eating, absence of financial and spiritual discipline, excessive stress and anxiety… the list goes on and on and on.

At this point you’re probably wondering… “Where is/are she/they going with this?” I promise the silver lining is coming soon.

After graduating and continuing straight to graduate school I was forced to take a hard look in the mirror as round three of burnout was both quickly and surely approaching. In that short summer post undergrad when I moved to Athens, Georgia for my graduate studies, I didn’t make any major changes other than that of my physical environment (shout out to my Georgia Peaches and Bulldogs).  Grad school is hard enough by itself. Being at another prestigious institution and in a top nationally ranking program didn’t lift any of the pressure that I felt to succeed. My burnout symptoms continued, and that caused me to search for the source of this workaholic ailment.

It is much easier to care for oneself when you can identify the cause of your lacking. As I found myself reflecting on my time at W&M (I do this quite often) I learned that I tied my personal value and worth to my productivity as a student and as a leader. This is a huge no-no. You are worthy of care of yourself and from others for merely existing. This was the lesson that took me a concentrated six years of failure to learn. In March 2020, I took a decent enough stance to make a change in my life because I had the gift of the absence of certainty as it pertained to my human existence. To this date, I have survived the first global epicenter of COVID-19 and I’m currently surviving in the epicenter of the United States of America. Self care is crucial to me more than ever because of how uncertain our time on this Earth has become.

I leave you with this advice: Whether you’re an aspiring W&M student, current student, young alum or seasoned alum, please take care of yourself. It will have the most positive ripple effect into all aspects of your life in ways that you might not be able to imagine at this point. If you don’t know where to begin, go back to the simple things that made you happy as a kid. Was it a favorite tv show? A song? A hug? A piping hot dish of Grandma’s mac n’ cheese? Find your inner child and care for him/her/them. You’ll find that things in your life will naturally begin to align. I leave you with this timely quote from Chaz Miller @cdiddy77, “The most important reason to live in the moment is that nothing lasts forever—enjoy the moment while it’s in front of you. Be present.”

Connect with DeLauren on LinkedIn or email her at or

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.

Get Involved Maintaining Connections

Staying involved with William & Mary after the Joint Degree Programme

By Ian Doty ’21

Staying involved with William & Mary after the Joint Degree Programme

It’s an understatement to say that my time at William & Mary was unusual. From the beginning, my time in Williamsburg was limited; as a member of the St Andrews Joint Degree Programme, I entered college knowing that I’d only spend two years in Virginia. Add in the COVID-19 pandemic, and several work-related trips, and I spent fewer than three semesters physically at the College.

Yet when I graduated this past May, I left with an overwhelming feeling of gratitude towards the College, its students, its professors, and most of all, the shared community we had. As COVID brought collective difficulties, and William & Mary and its students learned to adapt, there was a certain mutual commiseration. It was the feeling of: “We’re in this once-in-a-lifetime situation, in the once-in-a-lifetime experience that is college, so we might as well get through it together.”

Nonetheless, attending St Andrews complicated my adoration for William & Mary. Indeed, having attended two universities, I have two different and simultaneously equal loves for both of my alma maters. Where one school succeeded, the other struggled, with almost no overlap. And speaking to other students and graduates from the Joint Degree Programme, I know that’s a common sentiment. Students who bounce back and forth between the United States and Scotland never experience the comfort of a permanent home – while William & Mary is a lovely place to study, it’s always accompanied by the portents of change.

The result often is that students become disillusioned and frustrated by the seemingly endless red tape surrounding grade transfer, course compatibility, and the difficulties re-making friends. For some, that dispiritedness becomes overwhelming, and they choose to leave the Programme. But for others, it becomes numbing agent, and they learn to deal with the struggles of two universities, often with a little bitterness towards both sides.

Of course, like regular students, there are things we wish the administrations (both!) did differently. But for normal William & Mary students, that doesn’t prevent them from engaging with the College and its alumni after graduation. The same should be true for Joint Degree students.

I recognize that my experience is colored by a positive experience with the Joint Degree Programme and both of its constituent universities, and that not everyone from the Programme is ready or willing to engage with either William & Mary or St Andrews. But for those who are looking to develop that deeper relationship with their alma maters, here are 6 ways to continue to be involved:

1. Stay connected to your local alumni networks.

William & Mary has a renowned alumni network, and our programming is truly one of the best in the nation. Whether it be social development, employment connections, or opportunities to rekindle relationships with old classmates, William & Mary has an outstanding capability to keep you connected to your home in Williamsburg.

More information, and a full list of alumni services and local chapters, can be found on the William & Mary Alumni Association Website.

Although still nascent, St Andrews continues to build out its alumni engagement, emulating William & Mary in creating local, regional, and national networks for alumni. These tend to be no-frills opportunities to socialize; the engagement level is lower, but once or twice a year, there’s a large party to connect you to St Andrews. The St Andrews officers–who usually are present at these events–are your key to planning for graduate study or remaining in close contact with the university.

Find out more information here.

2. Attend William & Mary homecoming.

Although St Andrews doesn’t have a homecoming tradition, William & Mary’s intimate yet exciting annual gatherings are a special opportunity to reconnect with classmates and feel the “magic” of Williamsburg in the fall. I’ve spoken to so many students who said that their decision to come to William & Mary was made when they saw students socializing in the Sunken Gardens on a Fall Visiting day. Though we might not have that freedom and proximity to campus once we graduate, every year Homecoming aims to rekindle that feeling with a weekend of connection and college revelry. It’s a genuinely tender time and one of the opportunities to really feel the pull of college once again. Homecoming is just a month away.

Register for homecoming.

3. Recognize that each university has its strengths and weaknesses.

I, like all my fellow Joint Degree Programme students, have bemoaned William & Mary and St Andrews in the past, sometimes even in the same sentence. That’s normal. But my adoration for both colleges comes out of an acceptance of their differences, and an understanding that I’m better for having dealt with the same struggles and successes as every other Joint Degree Programme student. In some ways, it’s the constant change and overcoming of adversity that sets the Programme apart from other opportunities; that’s not fun in the moment, but it is something to be respected and rewarded after graduation.

4. Donate to the causes you care about. Fortunately for graduates, William & Mary lets you designate your donations to a specific cause (something I saw a LOT of this COVID year as a Senior Class Gift member). In recognizing that William & Mary and St Andrews have their unique areas of strength, it’s only fitting that we decide to give back to those areas we felt supported by (or even need improving!). Moreover, William & Mary lets you donate directly to the Programme, giving money to the Small Grants

Fund, to social bonding events during Orientation and Freshers Week, and hosting senior events for future graduates.

Donate to the Joint Degree Programme here.

5. Return to Williamsburg and St Andrews and reignite your passion for your alma maters.

Talking to alums, so many of them felt disconnected from their college years until, on a roadtrip down the Eastern Seaboard, they decided to stop in Williamsburg. One look at William & Mary, and their memories of college came rushing back. They were hooked.

Even though we attended two universities, the same still holds true. I’ll always have memories of my first William & Mary football game, Winter Blowout on campus, or Raisin celebrations as a green second-year at St Andrews. Some part of those memories are connected to the place, and as we head out of COVID restrictions and return to regular travel, I’m looking forward to heading back to Williamsburg and St Andrews and feeling a sense of connection our colleges and what made them so special.

6. Stay connected to other Joint Degree Programme alumni.

In the past few months, I’ve made it a priority to speak to Joint Degree Programme alumni, all of which have gone on to impressive things. They say, invariably, that there’s comfort it talking to other Programme alumni, sharing in the joys and frustrations of college and laughing about the unique experience that we all share.

Although there isn’t quite a structured alumni group for the Programme (yet!), there’s real value in staying connected through social media, in-person events, and homecomings and reunions. Much like how we stayed together during college to enjoy and survive the challenges of the Programme, there’s value in remaining close after graduation.

I’d love to hear from any Joint Degree Programme students, whether it be your stories, or ways you’re still connected to William & Mary and St Andrews. Feel free to send me an email or connect with me on LinkedIn.

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

Crim Dell Association Tribe Athletics

Building Identity

By Peter Makey `19

Having grown up near Minneapolis, Minnesota, my journey to William & Mary was far less predictable (and much longer) than my relatively shorter, well-traveled path up to Washington, DC after graduation. As many before and alongside me can articulate, there’s a certain allure to moving to a major market, the center of American politics, and to a place where you’re bound to bump into a fellow William & Mary grad if you just happen to overhear the right conversation.

During my time as a student, the epicenter of my experience was in Kaplan Arena, where I participated as a member of the Men’s gymnastics team. Tribe Athletics – and Men’s Gymnastics specifically – was my entrée into William & Mary, and it remains one of my strongest ties. Where I live in Washington, DC, Metro buses adorned in green and gold dotted the streets during the fall of 2019. In 2020, I became more deeply engaged as a young alum than I could have predicted, as I joined with students, families, staff, and community members in urging Tribe Athletics to find its way back to the mission it anchors on. Now, in 2021, I felt the reach of William & Mary as I cheered on my younger teammates competing at the NCAA Championships at the University of Minnesota, just miles from where I grew up.

If athletics has proven itself a special venue for building and sustaining community, so too has my identity as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. While not officially a part of any LGBTQ+ student group on campus, shortly after graduation I leaned into my identity as another way to meet and engage with other alum I could relate to. Having been on campus during William & Mary’s inaugural Lavender Graduation ceremony and taking part in its second, I knew there was an under-told history of LGBTQ+ student life that was resurging in front of me. Through the Alumni Association, I have been able to support the newly renamed Crim Dell Association, birthed out of GALA, the College’s LGBTQ+ affinity group, which celebrated its 35th anniversary at William & Mary this year. I was also pleased to attend William & Mary’s first formally partnered Pride event in DC, where I’ve been able to connect with alum from years, sometimes decades past, who knew an entirely different experience than the inclusive one I so appreciated.

In each of these ways and more, the College’s active engagement with DC alumni has provided an enriching layer of opportunities, personal, professional, and social. From networking events at alum-founded solar energy startups, to sailing excursions on the Potomac, to William & Mary Night at National’s Park and W&M at D.C. United, the ways in which the William & Mary Washington Center and DC Alumni Board have made intentional efforts to engage students and young alumni sustains connection and community in a remarkable way. In the virtual environment too, the breadth of William & Mary’s alumni network is clear. As Zoom became my new normal, I found myself able to stay connected as I virtually celebrated Pride, watched gymnastics competitions, commemorated Charter Day, and continued to pursue research with the support of professors who I admired during undergrad.

Although I’ve been able to forge strong connections that span both time and distance in the virtual environment, I’m reminded now about the importance of place. With October’s Homecoming and Commencement celebrations around the corner, I’m eager to make the familiar trek down to Williamsburg once again, to return to the sights and people that have made W&M home.

Until then, here’s to hoping you all stay safe and well. Go Tribe!

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


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.

Maintaining Connections

New Town, Same Tribe: Alumni Connections Around the World

By Tyler Vuxta ’13

Much like many of you, I was involved in a little bit of everything at William and Mary. I joined too many clubs, spent too many late nights and dollars at the Delis, and made lifelong friends along the way. As much as I enjoyed my experience at the College, I largely expected that I’d largely leave it behind me after graduation. Now that I’m a few years in, I can appreciate three major themes to how my college connections continue to influence me into my 30’s:

1) Maintaining remote connections: much as I hoped to avoid it, I suspected I may drift apart from connections as life took me away from the state of Virginia. Fortunately, my collegiate circle is much better at keeping in touch than I have ever been, and I’ve maintained close connections 8 years on! Beyond the joys of friendship alone, this has been invaluable as a resource to get a non-biased perspective on my day-to-day trials and tribulations. Additionally, I’ve been welcomed for overnight stays in many guest bedrooms around the country!

2) Integrating into Charlotte: the Alumni chapter was an excellent resource to help get me started with friends in Charlotte. One of my favorite aspects was the instant camaraderie I felt with people who had vastly different life experiences. I met one Class of 1968 alum at a Yule Log celebration; after bonding over a mutual love of craft beer and similar political interests, we have had monthly dinners at each other’s homes for years! William and Mary has created friendships and connections for me that I can’t imagine I would have made any other way.

3) W&M on the road: I always pack William and Mary clothing when I travel, as it amazes me how far the brand persists and how wide our alumni spread. My favorite and most random anecdote on this is from a trip to Kyrgyzstan. I was visiting a roommate from undergrad and exploring the country, traveling with two other school friends (see point 1 above!). We had a planned rendezvous with two other W&M alumna who were in the country teaching English. While the six of us were on a hike to a remote destination, we happened upon yet another W&M grad who was a college professor there – the seven of us may be the largest unofficial delegation of W&M alums ever in the country!

I don’t have any broad takeaways beyond the thanking all of you for the experience and network you’ve helped to shape for myself and others. The College wouldn’t be what it is without the community surrounding it, and in an era where social connection is at a premium amidst the pandemic, I’d encourage anyone to take the first step and rejuvenate connections they fostered at W&M and/or to find the alumni community in your new hometowns. Even if you’re far flung from the William and Mary orbit geographically, you will be surprised by how far your fellow alumni are willing to go if there’s a friendly face waiting when they arrive.

Thanks for the experiences and looking forward to many more future Tribe connections, 

Follow along with Tyler on Instagram, connect with him on LinkedIn, and email him at

Young Guarde Council


By Anna Mahalak ’12

Welcome to the Young Guarde!

Like everything, William & Mary does – we always have to put our own unique tradition and spin on alumni engagement. So we are called Young Guarde. But what does this mean? Young Guarde stands for any young alumnus that has graduated within the past 10 years. The Young Guarde Council is a group of representatives from those class years that advise on young alumni programming.

The needs of William & Mary alumni are constantly changing, and that’s why it’s important that each year we add new members to the Young Guarde Council, especially the graduating class. Our newest members constantly bring new ideas to the table, and in 2021 we are focused on four key initiatives:

  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
  • Communications
  • Career Management and Professional Networks
  • City Ambassadors

Through this blog, we hope to feature the unique and interesting experiences of young alumni navigating life post-graduation while maintaining their ties and connections to our alma mater. While our paths and journeys may be different, one thing that remain consistent across all alumni that I meet is the love for the College and the experiences we had there. Those experiences can continue to be joyful, connecting, and impactful long after we leave Williamsburg.

I have served on the Young Guarde Council since I graduated on 2012, serving as Secretary, Chair, and now just as a regular member. One thing I wish more alumni knew about the Young Guarde Council is there is at least one representative per class so you can always have someone to go to with your ideas, concerns, and questions about the W&M young alumni experience who is a peer. By raising awareness of our Council and our initiatives, we hope to invite more young alumni to connect with each other in this community.

Whether you are interested in connecting with the W&M alumni network in a new city, furthering your career, learning about what’s happening at the College, or ensuring that alumni services are accessible and helpful to all alumni – or something else entirely – we hope you will leave us feedback here to keep these conversations going. We also invite you to share your own personal story about how you stay connected to the Tribe and submit to the blog! If you have any questions or suggestions about our communications efforts, feel free to contact me personally at Tribe Pride.

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