Washington and Lee University

Washington and Lee University

Quiana McKenzie '08


Hometown: Chicago, IL

Major: American Government and Society, concentration Poverty Studies

Extracurricular Involvement:

  • Multicultural Student Association
  • Generals Activities Board
  • Peer Counselor
  • Dorm Counselor
  • E-matter mentoring program
  • Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority
  • Joyful Noise Gospel Choir

Off-Campus Experiences:

  • Washington Term: Office of Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. (Spring 2007)
  • Shepherd Program Internship: Mississippi Delta Boys Girls Adults Community Development Center

Favorite Campus Landmark: The Colonnade and Lee Chapel. I love to take walks on the colonnade when it rains and whenever I have to make tough decisions I sit in front of Lee Chapel until I find a solution. Very calming experience.

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When I told my friends and school counselors that I had decided to attend Washington and Lee University, they were all shocked. First, they had never heard of the school. Then, after they researched the school and realized it was in the “middle of nowhere” and smaller than my high school, they thought I had lost my mind. However, after my first visit to the school, I realized that W&L had something that many of the more than 20 schools I applied to did not have: Community.

While I attended a large public high school, I was used to being in small classes with teachers I could call at home and ask for advice. I enjoyed and benefited from such personalized attention and I considered my classmates and teachers part of my family. When I had to decide which school I was going to attend in the fall of 2004, I knew that I needed to go to a place where I was an individual, not a number. I needed to go to a place where people would be willing to help and guide me along my academic and life paths. In the end, I knew that I needed to attend Washington and Lee.

Every day that I spend on campus, I realize that I made the right decision. Washington and Lee is a special place, and I absolutely love it. There are so many resources--personal and academic--available on campus because the University genuinely wants everyone to succeed. I contribute to the community as a peer counselor and a dorm counselor, and I love my jobs. Being able to create that unique freshmen year experience or helping someone deal with a personal issue allows me to give something back to a community that has given me so much. Interacting with a small group of girls and helping them to avoid pitfalls I made during my first year helps me to reflect upon past mistakes and remember the lessons I have learned. Being available 24/7 as a peer counselor to the campus gives me purpose and challenges me to meet new people and deal with new situations. I care about my community because I realize that my community cares about me. Washington and Lee is my home away from home.

With the help of the Washington and Lee community, I have become more committed to pursuing a career in public service. When I developed an independent major that focuses on our American government and society, I received valuable input from administrators, professors, and friends. As I help and interact with others on campus, I realize how important relationships are to our society. As I volunteer with campus organizations in the city of Lexington, I learn more about some of the problems in society and the ways in which laws really affect families and individuals. As I reflect upon the school’s motto “Non Incautus Futuri”, Not Unmindful of the Future, I understand that I have a responsibility to contribute to my community and help in my own way to make the world a better place.

I didn't truly understand the value of community until I came to W&L. Now it's something I can't live without.

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