Gilded pineapples are synonymous with Colonial Williamsburg, but many of the College of William and Mary’s alumni prefer the taste of the Big Apple. Following in the footsteps of the Washington, D.C. and Virginia chapters, the College’s New York City alumni base is the most active, with 8,000-9,000 graduates in the area.
“To my knowledge, we are one of only two public universities to have a New York City office,” Managing Director of the College’s NYC chapter Renee Davis ’94 said. “We have a lot of alumni working side by side in this city that don’t realize they share a college connection.”
The New York City chapter hosted its own Yule Log festivities, an annual event meant to mirror the on-campus tradition. Alumni tossed a sprig of holly into a bowl. The holly was then transported to Williamsburg and thrown into the Great Hall’s fireplace flames at the College’s Dec. 13 festivities.
“[The New York location] is a beautiful place, very swanky,” Celeste Hall ’13 said. “I loved the Yule Log ceremony there; it’s a wonderful venue and it was especially meaningful celebrating such a cherished tradition with familiar faces in that setting.”
This year, the event coincided with the grand opening of the William and Mary Club located at the Princeton Club of New York. Membership to the Club provides both former and current students at the College with perks to living in or visiting the city.
“It’s a pretty exclusive thing,” Davis said. “Members of the club receive preferential rates on hotel rooms in Midtown Manhattan, access to athletic facilities, event spaces, lounges and restaurants, all of which are covered by a one time initiation fee and annual, reasonable dues. The club has potential to become a home for all of us. We have amazingly accomplished alumni in New York; there is so much they can do for William and Mary students’ access to jobs and internships up here.”
Much like the professional opportunities available to students of the College in the D.C. area, similar prospects are on the horizon for the New York office. The city’s alumni office is collaborating with graduates such as Tony award-winning costume designer William Ivey Long ’69 and multiple Wall Street employees to provide students with internship and career options that will be made available to them through the College’s Sherman and Gloria H. Cohen Career Center.
“These advancements will undoubtedly enhance William & Mary’s footprint in the New York region,” president of the William and Mary Alumni Association’s Board of Directors David Kelley ’81 said in a press release. “As a New Yorker and William & Mary alumnus, I am thrilled the university has extended its branches to [such a progressive city].”
Davis said that above all, he hopes the New York chapter will foster the strong sense of community that he feels is synonymous with the College.
“Navigating New York is always a challenge,” Davis said. “The more that our alumni interact, the more chances we have to never stop developing relationships with others who have at some point called the College home.”