Hometown: Hagerstown, Maryland
Majors: Philosophy, Politics
Off Campus Experiences:
Post Graduation Plans: I will teach English in Japan for one year through the JET Program. Afterward, I plan to attend law school with the aim of preparing myself for a career in legal academia.
Favorite W&L Memory: Between exploring London in the spring term of my junior year, attending Hillel’s 1st annual Great Latke-Hamentashen Debate, the 100th Fancy Dress, and meeting Justice Samuel Alito at the 2008 Ethics Bowl, I have had some great experiences as a student at W&L. Yet my fondest memory is meeting my freshmen residents for the first time. After a long week of residential life training, I was excited to meet the twelve freshmen with whom I would be living for a year. The first hall meeting, despite my attempt to act stern and lay down the law of the hall, was a lot of laughs. From talking to my residents about their expectations of freshman year at W&L, I came to realize the importance of my role as a mentor and friend in their transition to college life. As I reflect on my year as a dorm counselor I can earnestly say that it has been a rewarding experience, one highlighted by the close group of friends I have made on my hall.
I could write a book about the amazing benefits of attending W&L: its location in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley, vibrant social life, and great combination of academic and extracurricular opportunities. Yet the best aspects of W&L—especially for first-generation college students like myself—may be its dedicated professors and small classes. One of my friends once told me that he felt lost in his university's introductory classes, some of which had over 300 students. He was shocked when I told them that my introductory microeconomics course with Professor Tim Diette had fewer than 30 students (one of the largest courses I have taken at W&L), and that the professor was not only accessible, but also friendly and helpful. This has been the case with all of the classes I have taken at W&L. Some have been as small as a six person seminar on cyborgs, and all have been taught by professors who are committed to teaching and put students first. Outside of the classroom things are no different: I have gone out for coffee, hiked Bluff Mountain, and discussed a paper over breakfast on a Sunday with my professors.
For me, the chance to engage directly with professors in small classes coupled with the requirement of taking courses from different core subject areas led me to the philosophy department. I took Professor James Mahon’s course on ancient philosophy in order to fulfill a general education requirement, but after a few classes realized that I had found the perfect major. I look back at some of the papers that I wrote my freshman year and am amazed at how much I have grown as a thinker and writer. I recently completed an honors thesis in philosophy on the political liberalism of John Rawls. Investing hundreds of hours of research and thousands of pages of reading into my thesis was worth it. In addition to deepening my knowledge base and honing my research skills, graduating with honors means that the University will bind my thesis and keep it as part of its collection. I am deeply grateful that I have had such amazing professors, whose mentorship has sharpened my reasoning and argumentation skills and shaped me into a more confident, driven and ethical person.
The philosophy department also introduced me to the VFIC Ethics Bowl: a two day debate competition between all of the private colleges in Virginia on hot-button issues in ethics. Over three years I have had the opportunity to debate cases in sports ethics, medical ethics, and environmental ethics. In my first year on the team we placed 2nd at the tournament. Everyone had a great time, and I had the chance to meet interesting students from across the state,as well as leaders in business, law and government. At the 2008 Ethics Bowl, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito joined us for the evening banquet. As someone who is aspiring to a career in either legal academia or the judiciary, I was excited to meet Justice Alito and talk with him (albeit briefly) about law school. He also told me that he had visited Lexington years ago as a speaker at W&L's law school, enjoyed his stay very much, and found the school “beautiful”—something that I assured him had not changed at all. I look back on four years of walking to class down W&L’s picturesque Colonnade, and am so happy with my decision to come here--for the education I have gained, the opportunities I have had, the friendships I have made and the experiences I will never forget.