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Washington and Lee University

Washington and Lee University
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Crighton Allen '11

Hometown: Thomasville, GA

Major: History with a concentration in the Shepherd Poverty Program

Extracurricular Involvement:

  • Chairman, Student Judicial Council
  • Peer Counselor
  • Kappa Alpha Order
  • Staff Opinions Writer, Ring Tum Phi
  • Reformed University Fellowship
  • Shepherd Poverty Program Student-Faculty Advisory Committee
  • WLUR 91.5 Sports Department
  • Student Lector, St. Patrick's Catholic Church

Off-Campus Experiences:

  • Summer 2008: Human Resources Intern, Flowers Foods
  • Summer 2009: Shepherd Alliance Internship with the Public Defender Service in Washington, D.C. I worked as Investigator for an attorney that handled juvenile cases and spent my time primarily in Anacostia, tracking down and interviewing witnesses and doing the myriad other jobs necessary for pre-trail preparations. It was one of the best experiences of my life.

Post-Graduation Plans: Law School

Favorite Class: Three way tie between Poverty 101 with Professor Beckley, History of Rome and the Papacy with Professor Futch and Sports Journalism with Professor de Maria

Favorite W&L Event: Christmas Weekend

Favorite Campus Landmark: The Front steps of Lee Chapel at night




The college years are times of great personal growth and change for any individual, but upon their graduation, the students of Washington and Lee find themselves radically transformed in a way that no other university can replicate. Washington and Lee takes apprehensive, malleable freshmen and molds them into truly dynamic leaders, men and women of sound character who possess the education necessary to effect lasting change upon the world. To me, this ability to transform its students is the true mark of a school's educational merit, and I sincerely believe no other school does it better. Stop any student at any time and get them talking about this place and you'll find they have a lot to say. Washington and Lee students are on fire for their school because every day they can feel its influence on their lives.

For my part, I have been very much impacted by the Shepherd Poverty Program and Professor Harlan Beckley. A little more than a year ago, I signed up for Poverty 101: An Interdisciplinary Introduction, unsure of what to expect. I can say now that signing up for that class was one of the best decisions I have made. The class examined the definition, sources, and possible solutions to the problem of poverty through a wide variety of academic lenses, ranging from economics to sociology. Professor Beckley assigned engaging readings and made them come even more alive in class as he patiently guided a room of full of students in discussion that, as you may imagine, became quite spirited on more than one occasion! One set of readings by the economist and scholar Amartya Sen is perhaps the most thought-provoking and challenging prose I have ever read. Professor Beckley was there to aid me as I labored to fully grasp the nature of Sen's argument. I finally came to understand what he was talking about and my outlook on the world hasn't been the same since. Let's grab some Lexington Coffee one day and I'll tell you all about it.

The academic work left me wanting more, so I signed up to participate in the Shepherd Alliance Internship over the summer. I have wanted to be an attorney since I was about ten years old, and the Shepherd Program placed me as an Investigator at the Public Defender Service in Washington. D.C.--a wonderful place to learn how the law can be used in the service of others. That summer was an unforgettable experience, and the joining of real-life applications with my prior classroom learning made me fully realize all that I learned and how much I had grown.

Every student at Washington and Lee has a similar transformation story to share about how someone they met, something they read, or some class they took stirred a part of them they didn't know they had. My Washington and Lee experience opened my eyes to others' hardship and unveiled a desire to do something to alleviate it. When I shake President Ruscio's hand on Commencement day, I can do so knowing that the young man who will receive that diploma will be different from the boy who moved into Davis Dorm four years prior. That difference will come from so many things, ranging from twilight stake-outs of an apartment complex in Anacostia to band parties at the fraternity house. Washington and Lee students come to Lexington to receive an education, but invariably walk away with something they may not have thought they would receive--a transformed life.