Meet the 2019 First Year Experience Summer Staff!

Welcome to the Summer 2019 FYE Blog!

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I’m Haley Naiser, and I will be an intern in First Year Experience’s office and Coordinator for New Student Communications. I will be managing our office’s social media, and will be posting on here throughout the summer to talk about various topics related to orientation and incoming students. This post will introduce you to our office’s graduate assistants and summer interns.

I’m an incoming second year in our M.Ed. Higher Education Administration program, and my graduate assistantship is in the Dean of Students Office. I am president of two student organizations, Higher Education Student Organization and Graduate Education Association. I’m from Austin, and I did my undergrad in public administration and social work at Texas State University.


Corey Falls – Graduate Assistant

I’m Corey Falls and I’m a Masters of Education student graduating in 2020. Originally I’m from Springfield, PA, and I did my undergrad at Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore. This year, I’m the grad assistant for transition and retention initiatives, which means I get to help plan and organize the events and academic sessions that new students participate in during their first year here. As a former orientation leader myself, orientation week can be a bit overwhelming at first with so many new faces, events, and pieces of information being thrown at you. My advice is to take a deep breath and remember that everyone else is new and in the same boat as you. During your first year, try something new (whether that’s switching up your Cheese Shop order or trying a class at the Rec) you may come to learn something about yourself in the process!


Challen Wellington – Graduate Assistant

Challen Wellington Educational Policy, Planning, and Leadership, May 2020, St. Louis, MO. I am a graduate assistant for New Student Orientation. I help plan fall and spring orientation. Additionally, I coordinate the orientation area directors, whom hire the next year’s orientation aides. My post-graduation plans are a Ph.D. in Education and working in Retention and Transition programming, with special interest in multicultural retention. I was drawn to William and Mary based on the educational history of the institution and it is in my desired professional region. When I was an incoming freshman, orientation helped me get an understanding of campus layout and campus culture. I also appreciated the camaraderie I developed with my orientation leaders. My advice to new students would be to enter your freshman year with an open mind and know that your plan may change and that’s ok.


Alexis Michalos – Coordinator of New Student Welcome Events

Hello!  My name is Alexis Michalos and I am a second-year Masters student pursuing an M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration, with the hope to work in Residence Life at any college that will hire me after I graduate in May 2020.  I arrived to Williamsburg last August from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina after graduating from the University of South Carolina in Columbia; I chose William & Mary for a variety of reasons, including the warm welcome of faculty and staff when I first visited, the flexibility of my program’s curriculum, and the history seeped into the College and Williamsburg (I studied history in undergrad and am glad to continue it despite switching fields).  As one of the graduate interns for First Year Experience this summer, I am tasked with the general workings of the office.  My specific tasks, though, involve coordinating logistics for New Student & Family Welcome Receptions (be on the look out in your email for an upcoming event near your hometown!) and Transfer Welcome Day.  One piece of advice I would give to incoming students is to take breaks.  It is easy to overwhelm yourself with so many opportunities from day one, but you have a few years to get everything done-take your time, try not to overfill your plate, and explore; you never know what new adventures you will encounter by trying something new and out of your comfort zone.  We cannot wait to see you!


Samantha Nussbaum – Graduate Intern

Hello! My name is Sam Nussbaum and I am a graduate student pursing a master’s degree at the School of Education in Higher Education Administration and I’m graduating in May 2020! I grew up in the Northern Virginia but after completing my undergraduate degree here at W&M in History and Classical Studies, Williamsburg is definitely starting to feel like home. At FYE, I am a part time summer graduate intern where I’m helping coordinate some of our signature Orientation Events and planning our new Tribe Live sessions. After graduation, I hope to move somewhere cold (ideally to Maine for the snow!) and work in admissions or career services. I knew that I wanted to come to W&M when I was in fourth grade after visiting for a class field trip because I’ve always loved history and knew I wanted to study in such a historic place! During my senior year at the College, I had no idea what I wanted to do after graduation and found myself at the School of Education’s Open House where I decided to pursue graduate school and spend another two years in the Burg!

If I could offer any advice about Orientation at W&M, it would be to embrace the experience. I met all of my closest friends in my freshman hall and Orientation really helped bring us together. I definitely found the long days overwhelming at times, but Orientation really helped make W&M feel like home. If I could offer one piece of advice to first year students, it would be to remember to take care of yourself and others. Your first year can be stressful at times but small acts of self-care or random acts of kindness towards others can truly change somebody’s day! No one accomplishes anything alone, so ask for help if you need it and be there others when they need an extra hand.

Hali Pregnall – Undergrad Intern
Hali Pregnall, Biology major Marine Science minor, Class of 2020, Hometown: Poughkeepsie,NY
In the office, I am an undergraduate fellow helping prepare for New Student Orientation, Transfer Welcome Day, and other New Student Receptions. I am also focusing on helping to improve how Orientation Aides are trained to facilitate important dialogues following presentations like Making a Tribe Choice and One Tribe Many Stories. I have my own research project that I will be developing over the summer to explore how Orientation programming and messaging surrounding consent and sexual assault impacts the incidence and perception of sexual misconduct on campus. Some topics I am passionate about are the transfer, exchange, host, and non-traditional student experiences and the way inclusive language can impact their experience.
I am unsure of my post-graduation plans besides that I want to be involved in some type of environmental justice and sustainability work, hopefully where I can interact with people and make connections to improve marginalized communities.
What drew me to W&M was the emphasis on personal growth and identity outside of solely academics. The students and faculty I met when I visited made me feel like they were investing in me as a whole person apart from my test scores or transcript. People here truly care and understand what is important to help students thrive and flourish during difficult life transitions.
My orientation experience was overall positive, but I will say that it is an imperfect program that always needs more work to better include people with accessibility needs, visible and invisible disabilities, and a variety life experiences. I made some of my best friends during orientation and it helped foster a culture of care and connectedness in my dorm. My advice for new students, whether they are first-time-in-college-freshman, first-generation college students, transfers, exchange students, international students, veterans, nervous students, or excited students is to keep an open mind. The orientation process may not feel like it is made for you. It may feel trivial or boring or overwhelming. Those are all very valid feelings. It is an intense time. Don’t feel like you have to love it, but make sure you engage with the material presented to you because everything in those five days is meant to help you. Our values as a William & Mary community are to make everyone feel respected, safe, and welcomed. Our school values trust, wellness, healthy relationships, communication, self-reflection, and inclusivity. When you are profusely sweating and not wanting to do any more, just remember that we’re trying to show that you belong here and deserve to have the best experience possible here.

Stay connected with FYE on Social Media!

Healthy Living: Campus Rec/IM Sports/Club Sports

Hey guys! My name is Claire and I’m a rising senior at William & Mary. Like most of you, I was drawn to W&M for the strong academics and beautiful campus. However, it was also important to me to know there would be ways to keep up my active lifestyle once I arrived at college. There are so many ways to stay healthy at W&M, but I’ll touch on a few of the ways you can get involved in physical activities.


Since I was on a year round swim team in high school, before I made sure I would have a way to still be a part of the sport I loved before I even applied to W&M. I found the Club Swim Team to be a perfect balance for me. Every week, there are five optional practices for about an hour, as well as three weekly dinners! Being a part of this team has given me a great group of friends in addition to staying active even with my busy academic schedule.


William & Mary has a plethora of club sports teams, with everything from soccer to frisbee to crew to rugby. The club sports programs allow students at any level to join a sports team with several practices a week, compete against other schools, and attend social events like team dinners. Each team has a different number of practices throughout the week, but all clubs have a few team dinners and other social events as a way to bond with your teammates outside of practice time. I’ve loved being on a club team because I’ve had the chance to compete at huge events, like Club Swim Nationals in Atlanta, without struggling to balance athletics and academics. My experience has provided me with some of my closest friends and favorite memories – I can’t recommend club sports enough!


If Club Sports seem a bit too intense to you, Intramural Sports, also known as IMs, are a great way to get exercise with friends you already have! Often times, residence halls or student clubs will for IM teams to compete in a variety of sports, such as indoor soccer, table tennis, and flag football. Teams compete one night a week against other teams in their assigned division and the winning team members all receive a free IM Champions t-shirt! IM sports are a great way to get your hall all together once a week and take a short break from homework, all while getting some exercise!


If you want to stay active but organized sports just aren’t your thing, we’ve got you covered! The Campus Recreation Center was renovated and expanded about 10 years ago, so all of the equipment is new and there’s lots of space for any activity. Not only does the Rec have more traditional fitness equipment, but there are also several squash, basketball, and racquetball courts. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can even take a go at our indoor rock wall! The Rec is also open from 7am to 11pm on weekdays, meaning you can workout whenever works for you.


Campus Rec offers other opportunities for students as well. The Rec runs a bunch of great programs, from the Tribe Adventure Program (which includes both the Pathways program and select weekend trips) to weekly fitness classes like yoga and body combat! This year, W&M is excited to announce some classes will be moving into the brand new Wellness Center and ALL group classes will be free throughout the year. Additionally, students can work for Campus Recreation as lifeguards, fitness class instructors, referees, and building managers.


And regardless of the level of physical activity you choose for yourself, all William & Mary students can attend varsity sports events for free! Go Tribe!


Enjoy the rest of your summer and we’ll see you in a few short weeks!



Fun Things to Do in Williamsburg

Hello again everyone! Ally Brimmer here, and a little while ago I wrote about adjusting to your new dorm and your roommate, but now I want to get into fun things to do once you actually settle in at William & Mary! Not only have I spent three academic years at W&M, but I have also spent two summers in Williamsburg, so I am very aware of the variety of what the ‘burg has to offer.



When it comes to W&M students, in their down time a lot of the undergrads here just like to relax with their friends. You can always find people chatting on the Terrace, having a picnic in the Sunken Gardens, reading a book in a hammock, playing pool in the basement of Sadler, or playing board games with their hallmates in their communal lounge. If you want something easy and free to do on campus, then take a load off and just hang out somewhere.



On a nice sunny day, you can always find people on the Sunken Gardens playing frisbee or soccer. Even on cloudy days, you can go to the Rec and find people playing a game of basketball or climbing the rock wall. For those that love sports, sign up for Intramural (IM) Sports perhaps with some of your new friends from your hall or from the organization you recently joined. Sports are a great way to let off some steam and bond with other students. If those kinds of exercise aren’t your thing you could also go kayaking on Lake Matoaka or take workout classes at the Recreation Center like Cardio Dance, Zumba, Yoga, etc.


IM Sports , Group Fitness , Lake Matoaka


Music Events

Being in an a cappella group, a really fun thing I always go to are Wren Tens. Almost every Wednesday of the year at 10:00PM, an a cappella group will perform for 30 minutes on Wren Building Portico. There are always other music events put on by groups like Alma Mater Productions (AMP). They put on Homebrews on select Thursday nights for students to perform music and Fridays at Five where they hire bands to come and perform on the Terrace. Additionally, there is Wham Bam (a jazz band), W&M Wind Ensemble, W&M Orchestra, W&M Choirs, etc. that have concerts year-round.


Wren Ten , Student Music Groups , AMP


Day Activities

A no-brainer thing you can do is to stroll down Colonial Williamsburg and take in all the history when you take a photo in the stocks. On Saturday’s there is a Farmer’s Market on DoG Street (with actual dogs everywhere). On campus, AMP holds events like movie screenings. Another typical thing to do is go to a Tribe Sports Game, which are free to students. It’s fun to get all decked out in green and gold and go support the Tribe and maybe take a picture with the Griffin. Now some of Williamsburg’s offerings are a little far from campus, but the WATA bus system can take you everywhere you might want to go. Busch Gardens is fairly close to our campus and you should be sure to take advantage of W&M’s Busch Gardens day in the Fall Semester where we get discounted tickets! Or you could take the bus to visit some of the pancake houses in the area or go shopping at the Williamsburg outlets.


Busch Gardens Day , Football Schedule , Pancake Houses


Night Out

Finally, when it comes for some things to do at night, a favorite of mine is trivia at Brickhouse Tavern. Every Wednesday night at 9:00 PM, Brickhouse holds a popular and crowded trivia night where the winning teams can earn gift cards. So get together with your friends, form a team, get a pizza, and play some trivia. Or you could take the bus over to Movie Tavern and watch a new release while also eating dinner in these big chairs. If you want to do something a little more low-key you could go down to DoG Street for some ice cream at Kilwin’s that always hits the spot.


Movie Tavern , Kilwins , Brickhouse Tavern


I’ve listed a bunch of activities, but there is still lots of other things you can and will find to do at William & Mary!


The COLL curriculum

My experience with the COLL curriculum has been really unique, as I feel it is for every William & Mary student. My class was the first to be on the new system, so I think a lot of us were unsure of what it would be like. Yet, I think it more than successfully accomplishes its job.

The COLL curriculum works to not only expose you to different subject areas outside of your intended major (or what you believe it to be) but also different ways of thinking. Your freshman seminars, or COLL 100 & 150, cover the different forms of communication. The COLL 100 discusses non-written forms, such as presentations and websites, while the COLL 150 focuses on writing, including research papers and projects. The subject matter of these courses is completely interdisciplinary; you cannot take a class in any one subject because the curriculum calls on multiple disciplines. My COLL 100 was called Archeology of the Anthropocene; a class that I thought would involve historical digs in the Wren yard and analyzing broken pots and artifacts. Yet, it turned out to discuss our current geological period, the Anthropocene, and how it was named after humans, as we are the greatest geological force currently on the planet. Through emissions and pollution, we have changed almost every naturally occurring cycle – a shift that can be recorded through geology and studied in archeology. While I was interested in business as an incoming freshman, this introduced me to conservation and sustainability in an eye-opening way, so much so that I have incorporated it into many of the marketing projects I have done.

The COLL 200s really focus on this different way of thought in that you are exposed to science, culture, and active learning – hands-on learning in the arts. My favorite experience within the COLL 200s has been my time with studio art. My first class was my freshman year, and I’ve taken an art class almost every semester since then. The curriculum really affords you the time to take classes in subjects that you might not major or minor in, but still want to be a part of your experience. I’ve really found an outlet in art that I didn’t think would be a part of my college experience, but it has been incredibly rewarding.

The COLL 300 level is called “In the World” and is fulfilled by a study abroad course, or an on-campus option with a lecture series. I chose not to study abroad in my time, so I explored the on-campus option, taking VA Plantations: Then & Now. This course studied the history of Slavery in Virginia and the nation, how it is discussed in Plantation sites, and how slavery is captured in museums and history. I had never taken a history class in college before, so I was thrilled to be given the opportunity, especially in a course so relevant and important to society today. For the COLL 300 side of the course, we heard from three lecturers that discussed the topic of the semester, sustainability, and then we created a research project that followed that topic in the scope of our class. I wrote about the sustainability of photography of slavery and how that spread/continues to spread knowledge of that part of history.

Finally, the COLL 400 is your capstone – it is specific to your major and gives you the opportunity to be hands on in even an independent study, research, or honors project. For my Marketing Major within the business school next semester, I am taking Global Strategic Management, a course that focuses on strategy in the global market.

The COLL curriculum is a really incredible academic experience, and it enhances the William & Mary journey ever much so. As a student, you will ascertain your passions in college and gain perspective into what you may want to do once you leave these walls. I urge you to take risks and pick and choose as many diverse interests as possible – the school has so much to offer. Never be afraid to take a risk, because it might lead to the most meaningful experience you have inside the classroom.


New Room, New Roommate

Hi everyone!


My name is Ally Brimmer and I am a senior at the College. It’s crazy to me that I’m even typing that, time flies! At William & Mary I am a sociology major, marketing minor and my meaningful involvements on campus are music and first-year students. I’m in a music fraternity, an a cappella group, and work for the Office of First Year Experience year-round as Director of Health & Wellness Initiatives.


I wanted to take the time today to write about my experience and knowledge with roommates and housing. Growing up, I had my own room so the idea of sharing a room with another person was kind of terrifying. I did lots of research by googling what kinds of questions to ask a potential roommate, how to decorate a dorm room, etc. I then followed the basic protocol and joined the W&M Class of 2019 Facebook group and wrote a post about myself and my sleep habits. I ended up messaging with a few girls from the page about rooming, and it did feel oddly like online dating, but nothing really stuck. So, I decided to take my chances and get a random roommate. I wanted to be friends with my roommate, but I knew that at the very minimum I just needed to be able to live with someone.


Then the time came where I was assigned my roommate Rose and our dorm Jefferson! We immediately reached out to each other to talk about our interests, habits, and what each of us would be bringing for the dorm. Once we both arrived that Friday morning in August, we both were so excited and nervous to be in this new situation together. To this day, I’m so grateful that Rose was my freshman roommate and that Residence Life put us together.


A couple tips I have for living with your new roommate in a dorm:


  • Be realistic with your roommate expectations

What I mean when I say that is you may not be best friends with your roommate and that is totally okay! The key thing is to make sure there is mutual respect between the two of you. And try not to put pressure on the idea that you need to have the same roommate for all four years of college. While, Rose and I did not end up living together after freshmen year, we have remained very close. Everything will work out the way it is supposed to, so don’t feel the need to force anything. Bonding with your roommate will come naturally!


  • Get to know your hallmates

Now don’t get me wrong, if you and your roommate get along you should hang out and develop your friendship, but don’t close yourself off the other wonderful people in your hall. During Orientation, be sure to hang out with the people that will be living a few doors down for you for the year. Maybe even bring some extra foldable chairs to have in your room for when you want to have people over. My two best friends were on my freshmen hall, and this is the kind of story you will hear all over campus.


  • Take your roommate contract seriously

Your first year at William & Mary can be a wild time because so many things will be new to you. Because of this, it is important to take the time with your roommate to lay some ground rules to make sure they aren’t having people over at 2:00 AM on a Thursday if you have a test the following day. Having that contract as a foundation, is a great place to start.


  • Utilize your RA

Your Resident Advisor is a great resource who can point you in the right direction for something fun to do on campus or can help you resolve conflict with your roommate. RAs are such great, hardworking students, but it is important to remember they are still students with their own classes and deadlines. So perhaps make sure you have your key with you before you take a late-night shower and lock yourself out of your room.


  • Have a fan and a blanket in your room

Williamsburg is a swamp if you did not know, which means we get all kinds of weather at random times. This past February we had 70-degree weather and then the next week had snow. Be prepared for everything! Even if you are lucky and have air conditioning in your dorm, have a small fan with you just in case because your roommate and you may disagree about the temperature.


  • Loft or raise your bed

Space is limited in freshmen dorms so you are going to want to store your dresser, mini fridge, microwave, or random belongings underneath your bed. Personally, I don’t recommend putting your desk underneath because I couldn’t work in what felt like a cave. But I lofted my bed freshmen year and it was very helpful to have more floor space.


  • Don’t be nervous

Lastly, I know it’s nerve-racking to live with a new person and start this new part of your life, but it will all work out. Personally, reading lots of articles and checklists made me feel calm and as if I had my life together. Everyone is just as nervous as you are, even though they may not show it. You can always reach out to your RA, your Orientation Aides, or your parents if you need to talk or are feeling homesick. When you move in Friday, August 24 be ready to open yourself up to new experiences!

Resources: college packing list , college roommate tips , Freshmen FAQs