That Guy: Jed Talvacchia
September 7, 2007
Jed Talvacchia is arguably the number one bachelor on this campus: he’s charming, intelligent, accomplished, attractive and incredibly down to Earth. He surprised me with breakfast before our interview and throughout the questioning, joked with his roommate in a very endearing manner. I learn that his favorite place on campus is “the largest table at the Leafe, surrounded by [his] friends … and Clay Clemens, of course.” Jed would need the largest table; with such a giving and personable character, it is not surprising how many people gravitate toward him or how easily he makes friends. Jed believes that individuals create their own fate and after our interview, it is clear that he has already created a very fulfilling life and promising future.
p. **You’re involved in a lot of activities both on and off the campus. Which has brought you the most joy or satisfaction?**
I feel honored and proud to be a part of the committee that recently passed the medical amnesty policy. I think it is a huge step forward in the school alcohol policy, both in the safety of the students and to urge an increased dialogue on the subject. And personally, I feel lucky because it struck a chord with me and showed me what I want to do with my life.
p. **What was your role in this campaign?**
I wrote Sam Sadler my freshmen year, iterating many of the problems I saw with the alcohol policy. He was polite enough to hear me out and asked if I’d take my suggestions to the Alcohol Task Force. With sincere help from [Administrators Dean Gilbert], Anne Arseneau, Mark Constantine, Sandi Cleveland, Sam Sadler and Josh Lovell, it passed this past spring.
p. **Have you been satisfied with the responses of students regarding this new policy?**
I think the student response on the whole has been good. I know it has been used several times this year already which I’m very happy about, in a certain sense … I mean to say that it’s great the freshman, who are most at risk, feel comfortable using the policy. I’d like to see an even larger publicity mounted, however, possibly from this publication.
p. **How has the College lived up to the expectations you had when first matriculating?**
This school had far surpassed them by my sophomore year. I think that is why I became a tour guide. I love the College but there are a lot of myths out there and I think it’s really important to give a true representation of the school.
p. **Are there more changes you would like to see made concerning the policy?**
Yes, I would like to see that chapter rooms, dance floors, basements and even social lounges are considered private space and, therefore, if you are 21, you can legally have a drink. That is a much more daunting task because you run into people who hold very different interpretations of the Virginia state code and how it defines private spaces.
p. **How would you respond to people who think tour guides are fake and overly peppy?**
Everyone has their own experiences with this school. Other students only hear 30 seconds of our tours. It’s hard to be judgmental when that’s all they are hearing. The whole idea of the tour is to give our own individual impressions. That’s what visitors want: personal experiences.
p. **If you could repeat one day at the College, which would it be and why?**
Hmm, I would have to go with the day the Red Sox won the World Series. The broadcast stating they won was my ringtone for a long, long time. In fact, I tried to get it back again but they’ve taken it down.
p. **Did you ever study abroad or go on a service trip? What were your experiences?**
I did go abroad — I went to Spain after my freshman year and hiked there with three other students and a professor along a 500-mile medieval pilgrimage route through northern Spain. I started in Roncesvalles and ended in Santiago, hiking an average of about 20 miles a day. We studied the architecture and culture of Santiago and were there for about 35 days. The College was incredibly generous; they gave me credit as well as financial aid and the program is still running for those who are interested.
Then I went to Nicaragua alone after my second year and performed service and research. I used a summer grant and worked with a program down there called Sister Cities. We installed water filtration fountains in rural communities that have high rates of infant death and malnourishment, often with remote access to health care systems. I lived with a family and performed research on small-scale NGOs.
p. This past spring I went with API [Academic Programs International] to Sevilla from January to May for study abroad. There were about a dozen other incredible WM students and we traveled pretty much every weekend, hitting cities all over western Europe. Following that, I had an internship with NATO. I applied through the WM Career Center and the credit goes to Dr. Koloski and Barbara and Robert Glacel. In Brussels, I stayed with by far the most kind, hospitable family you could imagine. They truly made my experience. In fact, I hope that, at some point in [my] career, I can offer both a position and home to host an intern. I was continually awed by the absolute commitment, intelligence and kindness of the U.S. Mission’s staff. It solidified my desire to work in the federal government at some point during my life.
p. **What has made you so interested in service and traveling?**
I often quote my hometown senator, JFK, who once said in a senatorial speech, “To whom much is given, much is expected.” I have this philosophy that I grew up in a middle class life and go to one of the most prestigious schools in the nation. … If I don’t give 110 percent then I insult all those who don’t have those opportunities. I waste their sacrifices. In terms of travel, I have the opportunity and I have the opportunity to make a change. So if I don’t take up that calling, I view it as a shame. Finally, firsthand knowledge leaves a much more lasting impression.
p. **What is your biggest fear?**
Losing any member of my family. We are incredibly close. I have two brothers: one older and one younger. My younger brother is ten years old and is the coolest little brother you could ever want. My older brother is my mentor. He’ll always be. My father is my hero. My mother grounds me.
p. **Jed’s first lucky lady?**
[Laughs] … Leora Feldstein. We dated for two-and-a-half years and I broke up with her in the lunch room in sixth grade … a day I will always regret. We still talk now twice weekly. I’m not kidding. There’s no romantic interest. We have always been completely platonic … [laughs]. I don’t regret the fantastic relationship that has come out of the break-up but I do regret that we broke up in a lunch room.