Dec. 18, 2014

The ones who stuck around: Homecoming 2012

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October 25, 2012

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These alumni liked the College so much they came back as staff members.

Deborah Hewitt ’75

This is not Deborah Hewitt’s ’75 first appearance in The Flat Hat. Hewitt, the Assistant Dean of MBA Programs at the Mason School of Business, has been featured previously in the campus police beat.

“One of my fondest memories at [the College of] William and Mary is when a sorority sister and I dressed up as Miller cans. At that time, recycling was really taking off, and Miller was having a big recycling drive, and you were supposed to bring your cans. It was a competition between the each of the sororities and the fraternities. You would put all the cans you brought on a scale, and they would be weighed.”

Hewitt and her sorority sister showed up at the competition in their can costumes, in an attempt to get themselves weighed and win the contest. When the contest supervisors turned them down, they devised another plan.

“We snuck over to a particular fraternity house, which I will not name,” Hewitt said. “They were having a chapter meeting, and we broke in with our Miller cans on, and I seem to recall spraying a few people with shaving cream. They started running after us, but we couldn’t run away because these costumes were holding our knees and we couldn’t move.”

In an attempt to avoid getting caught by the fraternity brothers, Hewitt and her sorority sister desperately knocked on the door of the first house they came to on Dillard Street and asked for shelter.

The girls’ antics were reported to Campus Police, and the story ended up in an issue of the Flat Hat that week.

Hewitt enjoyed her time at the College, and says she does not understand why people often come in with transfer credits to graduate early, something that has become more common since she was a student.

“Why does everybody try to come in with a whole year’s worth of credits? Why finish faster? I didn’t want to finish faster.  I wanted to be here for four years.”

Regardless, Hewitt did not imagine herself coming back to the College after graduation.

“I left here and went to grad school, and from there I really wanted to see the wide world. I wound up in global consulting. So I lived in Tokyo, and Thailand, and worked around the world. That’s what I wanted to do, and I attribute a lot of that to studying at the College. I say my life would have been totally different if I hadn’t come here.  But I never thought I’d come back.”

Allison Larsen ’99

Lying on her couch under a blanket, with her shoes placed neatly next to her desk, Allison Larsen ’99, an assistant professor of law at the Marshall-Wythe School of Law, was comfortably reading a stack of papers of a height only appropriate for a law school professor. Before taking this position which she refers to as a “gift,” she attended the College of William and Mary and experienced many of the same trials and joys that current students do. From traditions like Convocation to tough classes that teach you more than your grade can show, Larsen experienced it all and is back for more.

Larsen said she didn’t believe she would be back in Williamsburg after graduating, and made it clear that her current circumstances were unexpected.

“I had no idea [that I would end up here],” she said. “When I graduated, I think I cried about leaving Williamsburg because I felt like this had become a home for me, but I had no idea I would literally be raising my family here. I feel very lucky.”

Other than being the envy of all her still-close friends from the College, one of the things Larsen said she loves about being on campus is the nostalgia she feels while walking past the Sunken Garden where students are lying out in the sun or playing Frisbee. She also enjoys witnessing the traditions that she once took part in as a student from the viewpoint of a professor.

“I remember being [at Convocation] as a 17-year-old kid and walking through the Sir Christopher Wren building and feeling like I was being embraced by this new community,” she said.

Larsen’s time at the College as a student, and now as a Professor, has left her with the critical thinking skills that she attributes to an English class on John Milton, which has given her the tools to teach her students to do the same in an environment she describes as the perfect gig.

“The best part about being a professor is that you continue that learning exercise…you never leave the academic community,” Larsen said.

Despite the schedule difference and the shift from student to professor, the College has kept the same charm that it had when she walked through campus as a student.

“I remember the [Homecoming] parade and football game…you default back into the way you felt as an undergrad here,” she said. “Time goes by but some things never change.”

Her advice to current students is to take advantage of the liberal arts education they are afforded, and not to focus too much on what career or job they may hold after graduation.

“Enjoy your time here, that’s my advice,” she said. “It goes by too fast.”

Matt Crispino ’02

As a former Tribe swim captain, Director of Swimming Matt Crispino ’02 has accrued plenty of experience with Homecomings at the College of William and Mary. Still, he has yet to grow accustomed to one jarring aspect of the event.

“People who used to be on the team are coming back as alumni,” Crispino said. “That never gets normal.”

Crispino’s experiences as both an athlete and a varsity coach grant him a unique perspective on Homecoming. The circle of alumni in attendance, he says, is as varied as the swim team that competes in the meets.

“Different faces are coming back,” Crispino said. “Usually, the younger alumni are very well represented at Homecoming. As people get a little further removed, they don’t come back every year. They come back every four years or every 10 years, so you don’t see them quite as often.”

The coach lauded most of the changes that the College has undergone since his years as a student.

“[The campus] has definitely changed physically,” Crispino said. “There’s more construction, newer buildings and improved living quarters. Better food.”

He argued, however, that the core values of the College have remained intact.

“The spirit and the culture of the campus is pretty much the same as it was when I went here,” Crispino said. “It’s a very engaged, dynamic student body. It’s an exciting place to spend four years and I don’t think that’s changed at all.”

Many of Crispino’s favorite  memories from his years at the College  revolve around this contagious, campus-wide enthusiasm and passion for involvement in extracurricular activities.

“I have a vivid memory from freshman year of my first collegiate duel meet against Virginia Tech, which we won,” Crispino said. “I have memories of conference championships and time spent with my teammates and coaches. Those [memories] are still very special to me.”

For Crispino, this draw to the College lingered following graduation. He returned in 2007 hoping to facilitate similar experiences for a younger group of swimmers.

“The College has a special place for me, in my heart, because it’s my alma mater,” he said. “Remembering the experience that I had here and trying to duplicate, or even improve upon, that experience for this generation of student athletes is a neat opportunity, and one that I take seriously.”

Christiana Kallon ’11

You see her walking by in her purple sweater, skinny jeans and black flats. She looks like any other College of William and Mary student, except she is not — at least, not anymore. This young mystery woman is Christiana Kallon ’11, Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Admissions.

Kallon never intended to live in Williamsburg after she graduated.

“Williamsburg is an interesting town because there certainly are a lot of older people and college students,” she said. “So that in-between stage doesn’t really exist. So I was looking at going to graduate school or even moving to New York or Washington, D.C., where a lot of alumni are. This opportunity came about, and it was just worth having, so I applied for it, but I did not even think that I was going to be here more than four years.”

Kallon applied for the job her senior year  at the College while she was working for the admissions office.

“My favorite part is, while I was involved as a student, now to be on the other side and seeing how things really work,” Kallon said. “When reading applications, if I select you it is because I really think you belong here, and having that perspective as a student, it’s easier to see who is a good match for the community.”

Although Kallon graduated recently, she has noticed many changes to the campus, including construction and student interaction.

“When I came in as a freshman, the Jamestown dorms were just getting built, but now there are Tribe Square and the apartments, and I am like, ‘That is so cool,’” Kallon said. “Then of course they are building the fraternity complex, so certainly the physical condition of the campus has changed. As a student body, as a community, I am just seeing a lot bigger events happening that are bringing campus together, which is really great.”

Kallon is supportive of the traditions at the College and said she does not want to see them change. She added that she still “bleeds green and gold.”

Additionally, Kallon is a part of the Hulon Willis Association for Alumni, which meets after Homecoming. She said that she loves the rich history associated with Charter Day and traditional activities on campus like those hosted on the last day of classes.

“Just those larger, bringing-everybody-together events — those are my favorite memories but I have just had good friends, and I encourage people to come for Homecoming,” Kallon said. “It is just an intimate community, because you have an opportunity to be a part of the big stuff but then you also have your friend-pockets. It is just cool; I like it.”

Kallon now has the opportunity to make decisions as to who would fit in best as students at her alma mater. However, she also has words of wisdom to share with current students at the College.

“William and Mary is what you make of it,” Kallon said. “I mean, it is hard work, but it is fun. It is fun to be around kids who love to learn, it is fun to be around professors and faculty who are invested in you, but it is what you make of it. Everybody has a different experience and I am very careful not to use my experiences as the blanketed experience — but I think I made the most of it, and I love this college.”

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