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Washington and Lee University

Washington and Lee University
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Isaac Webb '13

Hometown: Waterville, Maine

Major: History and Russian Area Studies

Extracurricular Involvement:

  • Volunteer Venture Overall Student Coordinator
  • Campus Kitchens Leadership Team
  • Traveller Safe-Ride Program
  • Peer Tutor
  • Lambda Chi Alpha

Off-Campus Experiences:

  • Spring Term Abroad in Russia 2011
  • Critical Language Scholarship to Ufa, Russia in Summer 2011


Favorite W&L Memory: Climbing House Mountain at 3 AM to see the sunrise.

Favorite Class: History of Soviet Russia, 1917-1991 with Professor Bidlack.
History of the American Welfare State with Professor Michelmore.

Favorite W&L Activity: Volunteer Venture pre-orientation trips.

Favorite Campus and Lexington Landmarks: The top of Reid Hall, the Colonnade, Lee Chapel, Kenny's Restaurant




I came to Washington and Lee in the fall of 2009 with a passion for history, and a peripheral interest in Russian culture and language. I couldn't have imagined that service would become an integral part of my education at W&L. I signed up for a pre-orientation Volunteer Venture trip to Washington D.C. before my freshman year and expected little more than a chance to meet other first years before arriving on campus. Instead, I made three of my most enduring friendships on the trip.

The introduction to urban poverty and poverty policy in the capital has helped to define my academic experience at W&L. Upon returning to campus, I enrolled in POV 101: Introduction to Poverty and Human Capability in the Shepherd Poverty Program, which inspired me to perform service in the Lexington area. Now, two years later, the impact of my pre-orientation trip still resonates: As a member of the Campus Kitchen Leadership Team and student coordinator of the Volunteer Venture programs, I am still directly involved with poverty and service in the Lexington area.

And I'm not even a Poverty minor. As a History and Russian Area Studies double major, involvement in the Shepherd Poverty Program might seem to be an extra-curricular interest. Yet for me, the extra-curricular and the academic have fused: Professor Michelmore's The History of the American Welfare State inspired my interest in the state's obligation to provide for its citizens. Professor Bidlack's History of Soviet Russia, 1917-1991 taught me about the tragic failure of the Soviet government to provide for its veterans returning from World War II. I have been able to tailor my interest in Russian history to complement my passion for social justice and social welfare: I am now researching the Soviet government's provision of aid to veterans during and after World War II through the George C. Marshall Foundation's Undergraduate Scholars Program.

The intersection of my academic and service experiences at Washington and Lee has created a true liberal arts education. My relationship with my professors has enabled me to explore all of my interests, and to pursue them in new ways. Professor Bidlack and Professor Brodsky have been incredibly influential in my academic growth, guiding my research and proposing new opportunities abroad. With the support of Professor Brodsky, I studied abroad at Moscow State University during Spring Term last year. On her recommendation I applied for and won a U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship last summer to study Russian in Ufa, Russia, a provincial city just west of the Ural Mountains. And my experiences abroad are continuing: I will be studying abroad again this coming term, completing my Marshall Foundation research in Moscow.

At any college or university, academic and personal development is inevitable. But W&L is different: W&L has inspired new academic and co-curricular passions and forged them into a multifaceted education, both in Lexington and overseas.