An interview with Colton O'Connor '10

...being a Murray Scholar means being a big fish in a big pond
Why did you choose William & Mary?

What got me first was how the campus feels like a getaway. Self-contained, without major roads to cross between dorms and classes, the wooded campus brought me peace when first I saw it-even now, when I'm headed toward a midterm I still get the same feeling. Once I was hooked, the academics and everything else you've heard about was icing on the cake.

Has the Murray Scholars Program delivered on all its promises?

What amazes me about the Murray Scholars program is how few hoops I have to jump through. I get alerted when a big opportunity is right around the corner (like the occasional breakfast with Sandra Day O'Connor) and am otherwise free to enjoy my early registration, independent research, scholar-initiated get-togethers, and-in case there was any worry-my own life as a college student.

W&M is a college environment replete with intelligence and integrity where students get respect from professors and from each other
What's an example of a scholarly project that you've been involved in?

I spent the summer following my freshman year at the University of Pittsburgh. A scholarship advisor at W&M had turned me on to the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program sponsored nationwide by the National Science Foundation. For 10 weeks I carried out studies to characterize the response of a brand new model of Avalanche Photodiode to variable operating conditions. Now I am working on similar research year-round at William & Mary in the physics department.

What on-campus programs have enriched your experience as a Murray Scholar?

Murray Scholars are given invitations to everything from documentary screenings by visiting field researchers to quadricentennial soirÈes. But perhaps more enriching are the events and clubs on campus that have nothing to do with being a Murray. Last September, 20 of my closest friends and I founded a student-led swing band. By April, we had a whirlwind tour under our belts that took us to some big stages in and beyond Williamsburg. The year before that, I joined about a dozen clubs for a week or two to figure out what each one was all about.  I stuck with what I liked, and now I'm the vice president of the William and Mary Massage Club!

What makes being a Murray Scholar special?

If you've ever hidden a test the moment it was handed back because you didn't want your friends grumbling over your A, then you'd love being a Murray. William and Mary is a college environment replete with intelligence and integrity where students get respect from professors and from each other. Being a Murray Scholar means being a big fish in a big pond, but your elite status will not garner groans from your classmates. Instead, you'll get praise and support from your peers that can make all the difference in keeping you motivated and helping you reach the lofty goals you've got your eyes on.

Read more about Colton
Read interviews with other Murray Scholars