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.