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Washington and Lee University

Washington and Lee University
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Markheavens Tshuma '10

Hometown: Keene, Texas

Majors: Business and Theater

Extracurricular Involvement:

  • University Chorus
  • Fancy Dress Ball Committee
  • The Trident
  • Theatre
  • Chi Psi

Favorite W&L Memory: Seeing the Cadavers parade around campus midnight and trying to chase one.

When I told people in my little town of Keene, Texas, that I was moving to another little town in the middle of Virginia, everyone thought I was crazy. Not only because no one, including my high school guidance counselor, knew where Washington and Lee was, but also because the idea of me attending a small liberal arts college seemed totally out of character.

For four years, I was always the student who wanted to do it all, and a large college in a large city seemed like the obvious choice. But when I visited W&L's campus, I found an environment that captured me. I also heard my tour guide say something that made my ears twitch--activities on this campus are healthily supported. Between the faculty’s guidance and the EC’s monetary support, I’d found a place where I could do it all--and I’d actually be encouraged to try.

I will be the first to admit that I went a little crazy at the activities fair during freshman orientation, but to be a freshman who’s been on campus for exactly four days and already be involved in a number of clubs seemed like the right idea at the time. Washington and Lee is the kind of place where you can try anything and find out what fits for you. I’ve weeded some choices out over the years, and found a balance of extracurricular activities that I care about.

Regardless of the fact that I’m not an English or journalism major, I’ve held a position with The Trident newspaper. The idea to do a "Sex and the City"-style column came to me during a Sunday afternoon marathon of the show, and when I asked the editor if I could give it a try, the answer was simply, “send it in.” The ease with which you can get involved at W&L still astounds me. There was no ladder I needed to climb. There were no “dues” to pay. And after some tweaking and coaching from more seasoned writers, "Lex and the City" has evolved into something I can be proud of.

It isn’t simply that Washington and Lee allows students to be involved at all levels, but that students are encouraged to put their ideas out there--even if that idea includes channeling Carrie Bradshaw on a weekly basis. The faculty’s support is priceless, and the resources are endless. At the end of the day, I probably could have left the small town life and gone to a big university in a big place, but ultimately I’m doing much more than I could have ever thought possible in little old Lexington.