William & Mary

Making a Difference

  • Jonathan Converse
    Jonathan Converse  The Gerald L. Tuttle Jr. Scholarship, currently benefiting junior Jonathan Converse (center), was established by Gerald L. Tuttle Sr. and wife Mary Jo (pictured above with Converse) in memory of their son, Jerry '90.  
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Like many college juniors, Jonathan Converse ’10 has put a lot of thought into his future career, but he is still narrowing his options.

One thing Converse is certain of, however, is that he wants to “make a positive difference in someone’s life” through whatever path he chooses.

His goal makes him a fitting inaugural recipient of the Gerald L. Tuttle Jr. Scholarship. Established in 2007, the scholarship memorializes the class of 1990 William and Mary alumnus whose life was unexpectedly cut short in January 2007. By providing assistance to a junior or senior government major — preferably one who also belongs to Lambda Chi Alpha — the endowment benefits students similar to Tuttle, who deeply valued his membership in Lambda Chi Alpha and his government degree from the College.

“There are a million ways to respond to tragedy, but they [Mr. Tuttle’s family and friends] chose this avenue,” Converse says, explaining that the meaning behind the scholarship has special significance for him.

“To have someone else investing in you like this — it’s a really neat feeling; it really motivates you to work harder and make something of yourself,” he adds.

Hailing from Phoenix, Converse’s high school alma mater strongly emphasized service and community solidarity. Those values have carried over into his William and Mary career, particularly through his involvement with Lambda Chi Alpha, as well as his participation in club sports and Buddy Baseball, a local outreach program for special needs children. He also serves as an audio visual technician at the Sadler Center and as a resident assistant.

In the classroom, meanwhile, Converse excels as a government and film double major.

“Film is my artistic love, whereas government is my intellectual outlet — although, of course, both have a little of each,” he says.

Converse entered the College on the premed track, but after just a couple of government courses, he realized he had found his niche in an unexpected area.

“You encounter government in every facet of your life — it affects everything,” Converse says, explaining that the field’s relevance to everyday life combined with the inspiring teaching of the department’s professors is what captured — and held — his interest.

Looking to the future, Converse has his eyes on the Peace Corps or Teach for America and ultimately hopes to teach high school. Whatever he does, he plans to make the most of the opportunities William and Mary has provided him, especially those afforded by the
Tuttle Scholarship.