By Walter Hickey
_Chris Marty, a native Californian, has spent his past four years at the College of William and Mary performing with several renowned a cappella groups. An intern with the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and a tour guide, Chris is full of enthusiasm about the College. He took a moment to talk about how he got involved in vocal performance, his unique experiences with former College presidents, and where he weighs in on the divisive mascot issue._
*How did you get involved with the a cappella community on campus?*
Well, for four years I’ve been a part of three groups on campus. I’m in the Gentlemen of the College and the Christopher Wren Singers, and then I’m also president of the a cappella council. We coordinate … between groups, scheduling and all that stuff. But yeah, I’m definitely a singer at heart, and a cappella has certainly defined my William and Mary experience. And I get to sing songs, which is just awesome.
*How did you originally get involved with singing?*
I was always a church choir singer. I [sang] in high school. I didn’t actually know what a cappella was when I got to William and Mary. I didn’t even attend the showcase, but then I tried out for one group and it just sort of blossomed from there. That’s when my different groups sort of connected. It’s just really fun performing a cappella music, but I didn’t really have any real singing experience before.
*You mentioned that you’re going to be singing this summer up north. What does that involve?*
I am. I get to sing with an a cappella group on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts for the summer, singing for tourists. They’re a semi-professional group, so it’s just sort of a blast for them to offer me this, sort of a summer of fun before the real world kicks in. Actually, one of the alumni from the Gentlemen is doing it also, so that’s sort of my connection to the group.
*What are you looking to do in the long run?*
That’s a great question. I have no idea. I can see myself working within colleges I guess, like in student affairs or admissions. I’ve thought of going back and getting a master’s in higher education administration at some point. I’m looking for any sort of service-oriented job or education-oriented job over the next few years. I’m hoping to stay on the east coast — California’s my home, but after coming over here my network is certainly more D.C.-based, New York-based, rather than San Francisco-based.
*How did you end up coming to William and Mary all the way from California?*
Well, I applied to a lot of schools — too many schools — and I eventually decided to see three of them on the East Coast. This was my first stop, and between the other two stops William and Mary won out. I just really like the size, and I wasn’t really thinking about staying close to home. It’s a unique size for a public school, it’s not too big. California has many 25,000 to 30,000-student schools, but William and Mary is both small and public, which is great. It’s a unique combination.
*Do you have any funny stories you tell to prospective students to sell the College when doing admissions tours?*
I always tell this story about [former College President] Gene Nichol on my tours. I was a freshman chilling on the sorority porches, hanging out, doing what freshman do, talking about the real world and philosophy at around six in the morning, when Gene Nichol walks out to get his newspaper in his boxers. And he approaches us on this porch, and we have a five-minute conversation: “No sir, we have not been sleeping tonight, not a bit, have a good day,” and I just think it’s a very good example of what the William and Mary community is like. Gene Nichol. In his boxers. Chatting. I love that guy. I miss him.
*Do you have a favorite place on campus or in town to relax or study?*
I love The Grind. I love Tucker Hall. I’m an English major, so I like all of the ghost stories and the third floor of Tucker. As far as a single spot, I don’t think I have one. But I like anywhere in Colonial Williamsburg. I like the whole place.
*Do you have any advice for freshmen or underclassmen?*
I would say choose your involvement carefully. Don’t get overinvolved. You don’t have to get involved in everything. Pick what you love ¬— it’s singing for me — and stick to that.
*How was your freshman hall experience?*
I had a great freshman hall experience. We called ourselves “the Pimps and the Pumps,” six guys and six girls. We rocked the intramural soccer field every week. It’s still fun to see them around.
*Where do you weigh in on the current debate about the new mascot?*
I don’t know, man. I really liked the revolutionaries, because it was like a historical shout-out, but I also like progress and revolution. But I don’t really know about the final five; I think the final five are a mess. I kind of liked the Wren: “The William and Mary Wrens.”
_Chris is looking forward to his last months at the College and a summer of a cappella in Martha’s Vineyard. After that, he’s keeping his options open. And while his collegiate days are coming to a close, there’s still plenty of time for a few more good stories. All he needs is a chat with a boxer-clad President Taylor Revely to bring his four years full circle._