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Washington and Lee University

Washington and Lee University
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Ellie Duvall '11

Hometown: Glen Ellyn, IL

Major: Biology

Extracurricular Involvement:

  • University Chamber Singers
  • Mock Trial
  • JubiLee (Social Chair)
  • University Theater
  • Kappa Alpha Theta (Music Chair)

Off-Campus Experiences:

  • Junior Semester Abroad at the University of St. Andrews in St. Andrews, Scotland

Post-Graduation Plans: Hopefully teaching Biology to underprivileged students in a high-need area

Favorite W&L Memory: The experiences earned and the relationships formed while playing Roxie Hart in W&L's production of Chicago, performed last winter

Favorite Class: Musical Theater with Rob Mish, director of the Lenfest Center for the Performing Arts

Favorite W&L Event: Spring Term

Favorite Lexington Landmark: Lexington Coffee

Over the course of my time at Washington and Lee, I have been able to take advantage of many wonderful opportunities to develop, define and cultivate my artistic skills. Last spring, I went on a week-long tour to Seoul, South Korea with the University Chamber Singers. Mere weeks prior, I had played Roxie Hart, the lead role in W&L's production of Chicago. A year before that, I sang with the National Collegiate Honor Choir at the 2009 American Choral Director's Association Convention in Oklahoma City, OK, and last May I immersed myself for 4 weeks in Lexington's community theater--Theater at Lime Kiln--playing the role of Luisa in The Fantasticks alongside professors, alumni and distinguished members of the Lexington community. Since taking Professor Olson's course on oil painting during the fall of last year, I've taken up painting, and I'm currently in the process of organizing a one-woman cabaret to be performed in the spring of this year, serving as a culmination of my artistic efforts here at W&L.

Now here's the catch: I'm not a music major. I'm not even a theater major. I'm a biology major.

Four years ago I chose Washington and Lee because I knew I wanted an excellent liberal arts education and a close-knit environment that would be conducive to getting involved in extracurriculars. Little did I know, when I drove up Jefferson Street past the stately columns of the Colonnade for the very first time, just what W&L had in store for me. This institution has not just allowed, but has also encouraged me to supplement my science-focused schedule with activities that excite me, electives that engage me and artistic opportunities that feed my passion for the performing arts.

Science and the arts have hardly been separate communities for me on the W&L campus. My professors in the biology and chemistry departments have always actively supported me in my artistic endeavors by continually offering words of encouragement both inside and outside the classroom, and by coming to see me in many of the shows of which I've been a part. I've also seen science and the arts come together at W&L through our Science, Society, and the Arts (SSA) symposium, now in its fourth year. SSA showcases student research projects and creative ventures side-by-side, and is a wonderful illustration of how seemingly separate disciplines at W&L truly compliment one another so well.

Washington and Lee has not only provided me with the skills and tools that I need to be successful academically and professionally, it has also motivated me to pursue a variety of interests--each one highlighting another along the way. I am so grateful to my professors, my peers, and the W&L community at large for the enriching and enduring lessons I've learned and the experiences I've been lucky enough to have.