On February 18th, we celebrated President’s Day with a wonderful visit to the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia. We met our bus at the CFSA building in Washington, D.C. on what started as a frigid, windy, early morning. We watched the temperature rise from 11 degrees to 45 by noon. On the bus ride south, students discussed their desire to follow up with service activities such as Habitat for Humanity and Build-A-House, Melwood Therapeutic Riding, animal rescue and volunteering at nursing homes. We discussed grades and school activities.
Luckily, as the day warmed up to become a sunny cool day, we walked the entire campus learning about the many resources and programs offered at this 105 year old public university. We began our day with a personal greeting and presentation by Ms. Rachel Wyant, Associate Dean of Admissions, who explained UMW academics, student life and the admission process. We were happy to learn that this university wants to know the “whole person” and encourages applicants to share who they really are, beyond the GPA and test scores. We received packets of information on majors, minors, certificates, special majors, specialized advisors, study abroad programs, internships, research and field work, volunteering and service learning, organizations, athletics, and graduate degrees. This information was followed by a panel of students who engaged the large audience in a funny and informative Q &A session on the “real deal” of student life at UMW. We walked over to the Seacobeck Dining Hall and enjoyed an amazing array of food that simply went on and on and on. We discussed the phenomenon of the “Freshman 20” and why self-regulation has to begin in the dining hall, given all the delicious temptations. We then met our personally assigned tour guides who shared several of the programs most popular with our students, such as music and the theatre arts, and of course, the phenomenal athletics facilities. We even met a deer who decided to cross our path en route to one of our buildings! We visited the bookstore in the Admissions building where many students bought items as mementos of their visit to the university, and then gleefully checked out the dorms where current students showed off their creative and decorative interior designs.
I am proud and grateful to share that my dear sister, Peggy Lepp, who has worked in the Admissions office for many years, personally welcomed the students, assisted with our entire tour, and encouraged the students to pursue their dreams with focused determination. As we left, the students ran up to her and hugged her and promised to keep in touch with their progress. Every single aspect of our tour made us feel like VIP’s and we boarded the bus for home very happy, filled with information, and with very tired feet. I thank every one of the UMW staff members, our wonderful parent, Ms. Michelle Jones, our great volunteers, Barry, Susan, Wayne, and Samantha, and our dedicated mentors, Jim, Amrit, and Nyrisha, for devoting themselves to the Academy students on this fabulous day. Students have now experienced various campuses of George Mason University, Northern Virginia Community College and the University of Mary Washington. The reality of college is now one day closer!
With gratitude and joy,
First Star Greater Washington Academy