The W&M First Year Experience

Entries Tagged as 'Welcome'

Meet the 2019 First Year Experience Summer Staff!

June 12th, 2019 by W&M FYE · No Comments

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!

Tags: Welcome

Healthy Living: Campus Rec/IM Sports/Club Sports

July 31st, 2018 by W&M FYE · No Comments

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!



Tags: Welcome

The Rest of Your Life Is Just Beginning

May 21st, 2018 by W&M FYE · No Comments

Hi everyone, my name is Hannah Leich and over the course of the summer you will be seeing a lot of communication coming from our office (most of it generated by yours truly)! I am currently a graduate student at William & Mary pursuing my M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration.  During the school year, I work as a Graduate Assistant for International Programs at the Reves Center for International Studies and am a student intern with Student Accessibility Services through the Dean of Students Office.  In my spare time you can find me travelling the state of Virginia, walking through Colonial Williamsburg – especially on DOG Street, or adventuring anywhere outside from the beach to the mountains. I’m so excited to welcome you all to this wonderful institution and I can’t wait to support you in your journey this summer!


The summer before college is one of the most exciting yet overwhelming times.  You are about to embark on a journey of a lifetime at William & Mary’s beautiful campus and our office is here to make sure that you are prepared for everything that is about to come your way!  You have already been receiving plenty of emails (from our office and others) and those will keep coming your way – these emails have IMPORTANT information in them (read: deadline reminders, financial aid information, class registration reminders, etc.) so make sure you check you inbox on a regular basis.

Okay, so now that I know you will all be checking your emails regularly from now until your graduation (4 or so years from now), here are some tips to help ease your transition into your first year at William & Mary:

Do One Thing at a Time

Your coursework hasn’t started yet, but there are already some assignments and deadlines you need to meet.  There are deposits to get in, immunization forms to fill out, surveys to complete, alcoholedu, and college studies.  Not to mention spending time with friends and family before heading off in new directions.  Having all these things to do in just a few short months may seem daunting – but don’t freak out!

First, make a list to get an overview of everything that needs to get done.  Next, prioritize all of your deadlines based on what will take the longest to get done and what is due first.  DO NOT wait until the last day of the deadline to start, especially for any forms that require approval from multiple people or multiple steps to complete.  Remember, none of these tasks are hard, but some do take time, and they are all very important. If you don’t get all of your forms in on time, there can be holds on your account that keep you from doing very necessary things such as moving into your dorm and signing up for classes.

That being said, it’s possible for you to avoid these unfortunate circumstances by a) submitting your forms well before the deadlines, and b) calling office a week or so after your forms are submitted to make sure that they went to the right office and were processed correctly.

Use Available Resources

Use the Facebook pages made for your class to get to know other incoming freshmen or transfer students.  These pages are helpful get to know other new students and connect before ever getting to campus.  It also helps to know that you’re not the only one going through this huge transition.

Along with the Facebook pages, over the summer you will be assigned a peer advisor that will help you navigate your first semester course schedule and help you understand W&M’s COLL curriculum.  Many of these advisors were recently freshmen and are eager to help new students navigate this confusing time.  They can give you tips on the best classes and professor to take and will be happy to answer any questions you throw their way.

Don’t Forget to Take a Break!

We’ll be keeping in touch with you all summer and excitedly anticipating you all arriving on campus, but don’t spend your entire summer getting ready for W&M.  Take some time out of your summers of travelling, working, and getting ready to just stop, breathe, and relax.  Spend time with your friends and family, read that book you’ve been meaning to get around to, take up a new hobby, take time for yourself.  While you’re out there, we’ll be here getting campus ready for YOU!

Tags: Welcome

Welcome to the Tribe: Your Next Experiences

December 14th, 2017 by W&M FYE · No Comments

Congratulations to the newly admitted members of the Tribe! The next door of your life has just opened onto the next years of endless memories and possibilities.  Be proud of your accomplishment and look forward to everything you have ahead of you.

My name is Max Maiello, and on behalf of First Year Experience and everyone at William & Mary I would like to immensely welcome you to the Tribe. As a Junior going into his second semester, I speak from experience in saying that being a member of the Tribe guarantees you a multitude of life-changing memories and opportunities.

Disclaimer: this week is finals week, so I apologize if I get sentimental at any point.

Everyone’s experience at William & Mary is unique. There are dozens of variables that contribute to your own personal experience: the people you meet, the classes you take, and the organizations to which you belong are only some of many examples. No matter how much research you put into the William & Mary website or talk with current students like myself, predicting the highlights of your time here is virtually impossible.

That’s why being accepted to William & Mary is so exciting. You have no idea what is in store for you once you get here. Maybe your freshman roommate will get you hooked on Club Tennis. Maybe you’ll discover an interest in ancient Roman history and spend a summer studying in Italy. You could plan on being a business major and realize that you want to go pre-med instead. We have everything from Fencing to the International Relations Club to the Cheese Club. With hundreds of official opportunities in which to get involved, there’s a definite chance that you’ll find something meaningful unexpectedly.

One simple experience can help shape the entire course of your life. During my freshman year, my friends and I had randomly decided to explore a Study Abroad Fair with the sole purpose of “seeing all of the cool places we would probably never get to go.” Fast forward four months: I boarded a plane for the first time alone and spent the summer studying abroad in Italy. Fast forward four more months: I declared a minor in Classical Studies focusing on things I had learned while studying in Rome. Next year I plan on enrolling in beginning Italian courses to fulfill an interest in the language originating from my trip. That single visit to the study abroad fair (mainly to waste some free time with my friends) has had a significant impact on my education, my interests, and my life plans. Not only that, but pictures from the trip make excellent #tbt Instagram posts during this finals week.

Experiences would be nothing without the people that you spend them with. In my opinion, everything about William & Mary is designed for you to encounter people that will make a difference in your life. Some of my first close friends were made on the very first day of Freshman Orientation. During the first snow day of the year, my friends and I spent the day binge-watching Master Chef Junior (for whatever reason) and we still repeat inside jokes from the show.

This weekend, my planned study break to decompress is William & Mary’s traditional Yule Log ceremony, the holiday tradition of the College when students gather to listen to the school president read Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, enjoy hot cider and cookies, and bump into friends before they leave for break. During the pressure of finals, going with some of my closest friends will make it even more meaningful of an experience.

There are countless experiences waiting for you here at William & Mary, whether they’re through organizations or events or just the people you meet along the way. Regardless of the plans you already have in store, I recommend you take advantage of every chance and opportunity that you are presented. Some of the best experiences can be spontaneous.

Congratulations, and welcome to the Tribe!

Tags: Welcome

An Ambassador’s Welcome to the Tribe

November 7th, 2017 by W&M FYE · No Comments

Hey y’all! My name is Katie Brownfiel, and I’m a sophomore from the land of the best pizza, Long Island, NY. I’m an English major and soon to be double major in Secondary Education, and, like most of the Tribe, I love to be involved with campus life. I participate in quiz bowl and swing dancing, am a researcher in a psychology lab, and also love to help new and perspective students. I was an Orientation Aide this fall for GGV (Lions and Eagles and Griffins Oh My!), and since last spring, I’ve been a Tribe Ambassador.

If you’ve been to the admissions office before or after a tour, had lunch with a student, or came to a Weekend Information Session, you’ve probably seen a Tribe Ambassador. Our job is to answer any and all questions you have about student life and to make you feel welcome in our second home. We want you to love William & Mary as much as we do, so don’t be afraid to ask us questions about dorms, major programs, clubs, where to find cute dogs, or the best places to eat.

My favorite part of the Tribe Ambassador program is having lunch with potential students. Over the course of an hour, I feel as though a stranger has become a friend. My favorite lunch session involved two potential students and I sharing pictures of our pets, talking about my favorite things to do around campus, and discussing the plethora of ways that they could get involved with the campus community. After lunch I gave them a tour of campus and showed them all of the places that don’t always make the tour, the secret room in Tucker, the arguably coziest place to study in the library, and the Echo Spot, as well as the buildings where they’ll be studying in future. It was incredible to see their delighted faces as they entered Blair and Adair, the central points of their majors, and saw themselves at home there.

The most rewarding and enjoyable Tribe Ambassador session for me actually happened after my hour shift was over. A high school student from California was unable to join the tour, but she really wanted to see campus. Seeing as I was done with classes for the day, I took her on a personal tour of campus. This moment meant so much to me because it reflected why I joined the Admissions team in the first place. When I was a junior and touring colleges with my family, I already knew that William & Mary was high on my list from my online research. However, the people I met during my tour were what put William & Mary at the number one spot on my list. I probably got myself lost about three times before my tour, and each and every time, without my asking, a student came up to me, asked if I needed directions, offered a smile, and showed me the way. I even had two students stop and talk with my mom and me for half an hour about their experiences on campus. While so many other schools talk about community, generosity, and compassion in the abstract, this was the first time that I’d seen it applied so broadly.

Seeing as my favorite thing to do is answer questions, I’ll close my post with some common questions.

  1. Is there anything to do in Williamsburg/campus?

Yes and yes! No matter what you’re interested in, William & Mary has something for you! We boast over 450 clubs and organizations so I always encourage students to get involved. There is always something going on during the weekends, from improv comedy shows to music concerts to movie screenings to cultural events to sports games, so there’s no excuse to be bored. On top of all that, Williamsburg has a Farmer’s Market every Saturday and a music and arts fair twice a month – just to name two of the many activities that are steps away from campus

  1. How’s the food?

While it’s not your mom’s famous meatloaf, the food on campus is actually pretty good. We have three dining halls on campus in addition to two coffee shops, two food trucks, Qdoba, Cosi, and some cafés inside the grad schools. There’s a variety of home-style, international, vegetarian, and vegan options, and, if those don’t suit your fancy, there’s tons of restaurants in Williamsburg within walking distance.

  1. How approachable are the professors?

Professors are incredibly approachable and helpful with office hours! I’ve had a professor hold office hours in the local coffee shop, and there’s a chemistry professor who brings her dog to review sessions. It’s important to remember that professors are people, too, who also love Doctor Who and Stranger Things. If you have questions about your papers, research, or a test, please seek out your professor!


Keep calm and carry on; you’re almost to Thanksgiving!

One Tribe, One Family,


Tags: Welcome