I’m a rising junior from Ohio who is a History and French double major. I use she/her pronouns and Williams has taught me more about myself than I ever imagined. The parts of me you should know range, from the fact I’m gay and am proud of who I am, to the fact that I am a National Museum of American History stan. What’s fun though, is that I was neither of these things when I first got to Williams. In College, I grew more than I ever could have anticipated. I was very reserved when I first arrived at Williams, and I have slowly, but surely learned to let go of some of those defenses. I invite the class of 2024 to bring all of who they are into Williams, but also all of who you could be. Arrive with an open heart, an open mind, and open arms. You’ll meet people you’ve only dreamed of, and I hope it makes you feel worthy and cared for. With an open mind, you can go to events and talks, and classes with endless possibilities. I wish I had entered my freshman year like that because I would have had a greater sense of self if I had. You’ll never know if you don’t try and Williams is the perfect place to do that. When you come to Williams, I invite you to bring openness and to continue finding pieces of yourself and your joy wherever you can.
When I first got to Williams I was very excited to become this new and exciting person. However, to deal with new emotions I was feeling, and that I finally felt somewhat allowed to explore, I drank. I drank a lot. I drank because I was scared and because I felt it was the only thing that allowed me to open up to others without defenses. It hit a point where people had to step in and I stopped drinking. But I was still hiding this secret within me and while I was healthier in many ways, I was still struggling. I knew I was gay, but it was hard to reconcile with it for the first time in my life. Once I did, I realized I needed to live in my completeness and allow myself to breathe again. This piece of myself I was so afraid of has led me to some of the best people I have ever known, and I am happier because of it. Bring your everything to Williams, and grow. When prospective students ask why they should go to Williams, I say this: something bad will happen to you in College. I know that sounds grim, but hold on. Maybe it’ll be small and you’ll fail a test, or maybe it’ll be big and you’ll struggle with something in your family. But if you are in a community that genuinely cares for and feels deeply with you, you will come out of it strong and loved. I am at Williams because the people here cared about me when I did not care about myself. I wish I had known that in the beginning, but I know it now. Don’t be scared to be yourself, to be vulnerable, your family will be here, waiting for you.
The pandemic has impacted me in many ways. I am usually in-tune with my mind and my body at school and being home has been hard for me to fully check in on myself and keep up the healthy habits I established for myself at Williams. It’s been challenging, but it’s allowed for me to take control of my mental and physical health in a new way, something I believe will continue to help me in the future. Learning remotely was also a challenge, but when I gave myself structure and asked for family/friends to hold me to a schedule, it gave me more confidence and allowed for greater organization, something I thrive off of. But being home and finishing the semester was about more than just doing online class, it was about keeping up my relationships with others. I found ways to spend time alone, such as driving around my city (very Midwestern move, I know), and I scheduled facetime calls and Netflix parties with my friends as a way to stay connected. It’s hard because it takes a little extra effort, but it’s worth it to still feel supported and loved, even from afar. As you all enter College, my advice is to still reach out to your high school friends, but also reach out to the other frosh and students in your classes or group chats. Get to know new people so that way when we can all be completely, totally, normally back on campus, you’ll have those relationships to continue. Take time to be a student, a community member, and a person; it will make all the difference.