Few college students would welcome a late-night interview when they have a cough and homework to do, especially during the first week of classes (a time when, let’s face it, the very notion of homework still seems like a cruel joke). That Girl, however, managed not only to illuminate a cold winter night with her warm conversation but reveal some ways in which she follows Ghandi’s instruction to ‘be the change you want to see in the world.’ Amanda Nixon talks about building schools in Uganda, medical relief overseas, and the appeal of the great outdoors.
**What’s your major?**
p. I’m a government major. Only at William & Mary is one major underachieving. I hate that people can be defined by what organizations they are in. I love everything that I do but it’s not the sum of my person. I think that I’m guilty of it too — that we can do that with. I do everything that I do because I love it. It fills me in a way that other things don’t, but by no means is that ‘Amanda Nixon.’
**How do you define yourself?**
p. I think that if someone were going to define me by the people that I choose to spend my time with, that would probably be a better definition than I actually am. I love to surround myself with people who inspire me and people who challenge me and that are crazy. So I think my friendships are the most important thing to me. It’s tough when you are really involved, to maintain that as your top priority.
**What about community service and philanthropy interests you?**
p. I was part of Young Life for two years. I felt really pulled away from my William and Mary experience because I was in high schools most of the time off-campus. I’m pleased with my decision to be part of Young Life because I learned so much and met so many incredible people, but I wasn’t giving myself the opportunity to grow as a college person. So junior year I decided to come back and made William & Mary my community. I haven’t been involved in as much Williamsburg, but I have worked really hard servicing this campus and abroad with Building Tomorrow. I think that it’s incredible to be in a place where so many people are willing to give time to others instead of themselves. But I also think that it can be draining and it takes draining yourself to learn that time to yourself is important to you too. I can’t do as good a job for anyone else if I’m not doing good for me. My trip to Uganda in January brought clarity to how many people are willing and able to do something and don’t.
**Tell me about Uganda.**
p. I went for two and half weeks over Christmas break. It was incredible. We stayed in the first school that William and Mary built [for Building Tomorrow] for a week. I got to play with kids and teach them. We sang songs and danced and jumped rope. And then I got to see where the kids were from, which was heartbreaking. We did some home-based care. The whole experience made me realize how important Building Tomorrow is. I would love to graduate having raised enough money to build another school there. We just take so much for granted and the people there, the thing that hit hard, according to our standards have nothing materialistic. They live in dark houses surrounded by HIV and AIDS. The idea that we can give these children a place to go learn, learn English, learn skills to sustain themselves, learn ways of making a living and inspiring them would be incredible.
**Are you going to participating in a Spring Service Trip?**
p. I’m going to Nicaragua with W&M Medical Relief. I thought I knew what I wanted to do with the rest of my life at the end of junior year and then I realized I wasn’t so sure.
p. I wanted to go into Higher Education and work in student activities with college students, and I’m still considering it, but medicine has recently come into my head. It was a dream I had as a child and then I realized that I could either go pre-med in college and not have a life, because sciences do not come naturally to me, or that I could fully experience college and chose a major with incredible professors that comes more naturally to me. I chose government, and I do not regret it at all, but now I’m considering being a doctor or going into public health.
**What is the appeal of the great outdoors?**
p. I think I see God in the outdoors. I look for God in the outdoors and in other people. The African outdoors are sweet. We went on a safari. It was really hilly, and the animals were incredible. We saw elephants and hippos in their natural habitat. One night a hippo joined us for dinner, just walked right up to the table. Our server said “Excuse me, hippo!” A zoo will never quite be the same. I’m so excited because one of my best friends and I are taking a trip across the U.S. after graduation, and I’ve never seen the West before. I can’t wait to live off peanut butter and crackers and sleep in the car. And under the stars.