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Washington and Lee University

Washington and Lee University
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Jacob Geiger '09

Hometown: Overland Park, Kansas

Majors: Journalism and European History

Extracurricular Involvement:

  • The Ring-tum Phi: I started out as a staff writer my freshman year and became the paper's News Editor. I took over as the Editor during my sophomore year and held that position until the end of my junior year. I think my favorite issues as editor were our two Mock Convention specials, but I'm also proud of a lot of other stories we've done in the past few years. We've covered exciting things like the selection of a new president and sad things like the drowning death of a local student at the Jordan's Point Dam. I think it's important for the campus to have a trusted, local news source on things that matter to students, faculty, staff, alumni and parents, so I hope we've done that over the last few years.
  • Outing Club: I've led freshmen pre-orientation trips three times and also spent a week in New Mexico's Gila Wilderness with the Outing Club. During the school year I try to get out and hike, rock climb or go caving a few times a month.
  • WLUR: Over the last three years I've covered soccer, basketball and baseball for WLUR, working as a color commentator and play-by-play man.
  • Society of Professional Journalists: We get together every few weeks and often bring in speakers from organizations like The Washington Post, Associated Press and Southern Living. In March 2008 we hosted the regional SPJ conference for more than 100 student and professional journalists.

Off-Campus Experiences:

  • Summer 2007 - Business reporter at the Daily Progress in Charlottesville, VA.
  • Summer 2008 - Business reporter at the Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, VA.


Post-Graduation Plans: I've applied for the Marshall, Mitchell and Gates Scholarships, all of which help American students pursue graduate degrees in the United Kingdom or Ireland. I'll also be looking for a job in journalism this spring.

Favorite W&L Memory: Interviewing Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Charlie Wilson and Geraldine Ferraro during a 36-hour span at Mock Convention.

Favorite Lexington Landmark: I'm torn between Skylark, the W&L-owned farm that's located on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and Goshen Pass, a beautiful area 30 minutes west of town. Skylark is used every year by the Outing Club as a training site for upperclassmen who will lead freshmen pre-orientation trips the next week. When we're not studying first aid, maps, routes and more, the 25-30 trip leaders generally hang around, cook good food and enjoy some of the prettiest views in the state. The highest point on the farm has 360 degree views of the Valley and the Blue Ridge, including several of the mountains that we hike during the trips.

And Goshen is its own special place. Whether you're there to sit on the rocks and sunbathe or to hike, rock climb and rappel, there's always a good excuse to cancel your afternoon plans on a nice day and head for Goshen. If you climb up to the cliffs on Chambers Ridge, you're rewarded with some great rappelling or - if you're not that extreme - some wonderful views of the area.

During the spring of my senior year, I was convinced I wanted to go to a big university. I was about to graduate from a small high school, and I thought I wanted something different. But just weeks after I sat in on a 400-person class at the big school, I came to Washington and Lee for a second visit. I found my way into a geology class, where the professor pulled up an extra chair so I could sit around a small table with his five students. I knew right then that I didn't want to spend any more time in giant lecture halls. I knew I wanted to be at W&L.

I've discovered that this school has an incredible sense of community. My journalism classes usually have between eight and 15 students. This fall, my copy editing class only had five, and it was taught by a Pulitzer Prize-winning professor. The professors and students in the department end up knowing each other almost as well as we know our own families. That probably explains why we act like a family (for better or worse) most of the time.

One of the best things about our small school is our ability to get involved immediately with life on campus. I joined The Ring-tum Phi, one of the school's two independent newspapers, during my first week on campus. The editors handed me an assignment right away; there was no waiting, no seniority and no worrying about whether a freshman was ready to work for the paper.

You can find that attitude everywhere around campus. Clubs, organizations and sports teams don't just want juniors and seniors to take the lead. Anyone who wants to get involved in the life of this campus can take an active role right away. I kept working for the paper every week, and before long I was working as a section editor, assigning and editing articles while still writing a few stories of my own. During my sophomore year I became the managing editor, overseeing the paper's operations.

But college is about exploring lots of new opportunities, not just picking one activity and doing it full time. That's why I've enjoyed spending so much of my time with the W&L Outing Club. I've explored water-filled caves, rappelled down the Chambers Ridge cliff in Goshen Pass, hiked, skied and camped all over the beautiful area that surrounds Lexington. The Outing Club is a place where all type of students - as well as faculty and staff - can come together to get away from school, explore the countryside and have fun.

I'm glad I made those final visits during the spring of my senior year. I was meant to be at W&L, in a small community where everyone can get involved and find their place from the first day you step on campus. College only lasts four years. Why waste time waiting your turn?