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1693 Scholars Alumni

Many of our alumni are in graduate programs while some have already started their careers. Just like our scholars, our alumni have varied skills and interests and are in a range of graduate and professional programs. Take a look! 

Class of:

2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017


 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023

Featured Alumni
 Olivia Walch '11
Olivia Walch '11Murray 1693 Scholar

Olivia Walch '11

Murray 1693 Scholar

Majors: Math and Physics

“I have to be careful answering this question,” Olivia Walch ’11 says.

She wants to be clear that William & Mary is a great school on its own, but that her 1693 Scholarship took her experience over the top. When she got word that she had won the scholarship, she “reacted with embarrassing gusto.”

Walch loved the ability for 1693 Scholars to register for any class they wanted. The academic opportunities provided were invaluable, she says. 

“There were no barriers,” she adds. “I really accelerated. I was able to go into research much earlier than I would have.”

Her mathematics research and scholarship funding took her to a linear algebra conference in Portugal one summer, where she presented on “The Commutivity of Tri-Diagonals” with a group of collaborators. She won the conference’s Young Investigator award.

Today, Walch is a doctoral candidate in the University of Michigan’s math department. She credits the 1693 Scholars Program with giving her a leg up on some of her fellow aspiring Ph.D.s.

“I think the push in the Scholars Program to do independent research and have that background in self-directed work is so valuable,” she says.

On her own, Walch has already released a mobile app called Entrain, which is designed to lessen the impact of jetlag. It’s based on her research into sleep and circadian rhythm and has been downloaded over 120,000 times.

But that’s not to say Walch is all business. As a W&M student, she found time to draw cartoons for the Flat Hat — getting named “America’s Next Great Cartoonist” by the Washington Post in the process — and to make lasting bonds with her fellow students. On a recent visit to campus, she found that the current group of 1693 Scholars is carrying the torch admirably.

“I was blown over by how bonded they seem,” she says. “I have to encourage that as strongly as possible — hang out with the other 1693 Scholars and get to know them.”

“We still stay in touch. These really valuable connections that, here four years down the line, are still treasured by me.”

 Jake Reeder '09
Jake Reeder '09Murray 1693 Scholar

Jake Reeder '09

Murray 1693 Scholar

Majors: Neuroscience and Biopsychology of the Mind

It’s not always easy to tell which side of the planet Jake Reeder ’09 is on, but wherever he is, he’s probably keeping busy. He is headed to London to begin consulting with Bain & Company. But before the big move, he planned to get married — in Honduras. Fourteen of his fellow William & Mary classmates were making the trek, including a few of his fellow 1693 Scholars.

As a Scholar, Reeder took full advantage of the early class-registration program and took 400-level classes in a dozen different subject areas — in some cases without the prerequisite. By graduation, he was a Phi Beta Kappa double-major in neuroscience and philosophy, and met some VIPs along the way.

“[The 1693 Scholars Program] allowed me to have private meetings with basically any speaker or guest who came to William & Mary,” he says. “I even got to (briefly) meet Queen Elizabeth II when she came in 2007.”

One 400-level course in particular played an important role in his post-graduation plans. After early registration helped him get into “Entrepreneurial Ventures” at the Raymond A. Mason School of Business, Reeder was inspired.

“I would never have gotten into that class if it weren’t for the [1693 Scholarship], and it was what persuaded me to go to business school.”

Reeder just completed a joint public policy and M.B.A. program at Duke University. While at Duke, he studied energy policy, finance and strategy and participated in a project to help major automakers conserve energy during manufacturing.

But the benefits provided by his scholarship don’t all appear on his resume. Reeder says it helped him step outside his comfort zone. The 1693 Scholars Program put him in front of numerous leaders and in social receptions, building his confidence in himself. He also says William & Mary’s strong liberal arts background has helped him prepare for graduate school and his career ahead.

So on the verge of a trans-Atlantic move, Reeder is planning to have a long, successful career on both sides of the pond. And the 1693 Scholars Program helped him get there.

“Being a Scholar unlocked worlds of opportunity for me at William & Mary,” he says.

 Elsa Voytas '13
Elsa Voytas '13Murray 1693 Scholar

Elsa Voytas '13

Murray 1693 Scholar

Majors: International Relations and Latin American Studies

Elsa Voytas ’13 has taken her research thousands of miles from campus on both sides of the Atlantic — but she credits her 1693 Scholarship with laying a strong foundation.

“It creates an unparalleled undergraduate experience,” she says. “Your research is going to be funded and you’ll have excellent relationships with the professors and other Scholars. I was really happy.”

As soon as she arrived on campus, Voytas connected with Professor Mike Tierney ’87 thanks to 1693 Scholars director Dan Cristol and began her university career with strong undergraduate research.

“As soon as I stepped in the door, I was able to hit the ground running and get those experiences from day one,” she says.

During her summer breaks, Voytas used her 1693 Scholar research funds to study dictatorships in Latin America and international justice in Belgium and the Netherlands. In Guatemala, she studied post-conflict resolution with William & Mary Professor Betsy Konefal. Building close connections with faculty, she says, is one of the most critical benefits the 1693 Scholars Program can provide.

“These relationships are ones that really teach you more than you’ll learn in a classroom,” she adds. “They can really be lifelong relationships and help you even years after graduation.”

Today, Voytas is wrapping up two years at BoozAllenHamilton to begin a political science Ph.D. program at Princeton University. The opportunity to continue conducting relevant research and mentor a new group of students is one that was too good to pass up.

“I’m really excited to be able to give back and build that kind of relationship with my students and help them achieve their goals. It’s because I am tremendously grateful for the way that professors have helped me at every turn,” says Voytas.

As it turns out, her thesis — on research conducted in Brazil and Argentina and funded by her scholarship — was her writing sample for admission to Princeton.

“The research that I did as a 1693 Scholar really encouraged me to apply to a Ph.D. program where I could make a career of doing research and exploring topics that I am passionate about,” she says. “I know the importance because professors have helped me.”

And now, thanks in part to her 1693 Scholarship, she has the chance to pay it forward.

 Irène Mathieu ’09
Irène Mathieu ’09Murray 1693 Scholar

Irène Mathieu ’09

Murray 1693 Scholar

Major: International Relations

An international relations major at William & Mary, Irène Mathieu '09 helped conduct a longitudinal health study in the Dominican Republic, studied abroad in Florence, Italy, and in Cusco, Peru; took piano lessons; acted in a theater production; took part in multiple cultural events and studied three languages as an undergraduate student.

"My college years were a time of immense personal growth," Mathieu said. "Being a Murray 1693 Scholar enriched this experience by providing me with financial freedom, an academic home on campus and perks like opportunities to meet incredible visitors to campus."

Mathieu currently is a fourth-year medical student at Vanderbilt University. She said seemingly minor perks of the 1693 Scholars Program, such as priority class registration, had a huge impact on her "ability to intellectually explore in college." Her 1693 Scholars project examined campus-community partnerships for health and social change.

"That project was the formalization of my first thoughts about the role of academics in communities and the meaning of engaged scholarship," Mathieu said. "I have continued to explore this question throughout medical school, and I plan to practice community-engaged primary care in an academic setting in order to devote my career to these types of partnerships."

Mathieu wants to become a pediatrician, serving patients from underserved communities.

"I would like to teach methodologies for community-engaged primary care and health promotion both in the United States and abroad," she said. "Ultimately, I hope to get involved in national and global public health policy through a social justice lens."

For current 1693 Scholars, Mathieu offered this advice: "Learn, have fun and get outside your comfort zone. You will be grateful later when you look back on how much you’ve grown."

Mathieu, a writer whose works have been published extensively in literary magazines and journals, is considering pursuing master’s degrees in public health and in fine arts for creative writing. Her first chapbook of poetry will be released this year by Dancing Girl Press.

The 1693 Scholars Program at William & Mary attracts students who have many college options, Mathieu said.

"My college experience reinforced my commitment to public education and to public academic institutions as critical agents of education and ultimately social change and societal progress," she said. "Providing other students with the opportunity to learn similar lessons is certainly worth supporting."

Remember when?

 Rachael Tatman '12
Rachael Tatman '12Murray 1693 Scholar

Rachael Tatman '12

Murray 1693 Scholar

Majors: Linguistics & English

Rachael Tatman '12 said being named a Murray 1693 Scholar at William & Mary was one of the best things to ever happen to her.

"I was incredibly happy at William & Mary," she said. "I made amazing friends and treasured memories, of course, but I also had a chance to seriously pursue linguistics research, which is one of those things that you really do need to learn by doing."

Tatman earned a bachelor's in linguistics and English at William & Mary. She now is a doctoral student studying linguistics at the University of Washington. She credits the 1693 Scholars Program for making her a stronger candidate for graduate school and for the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship in linguistics she currently holds.

"I was able to conduct my own independent research in undergrad. So I already had a focus when I arrived at graduate school, and I was able to hit the ground running," she said. "Having a history of completed research projects — and some publications — didn’t hurt either."

The 1693 Scholars Program allowed Tatman to pursue research directly related to her current studies and also in children’s fantasy literature and bookbinding.

"College is a time to try new things, and the 1693 Scholars program is there to help you," she said. "Like William & Mary, the 1693 Scholars Program gives exceptional students the resources and opportunities they need to explore and grow to reach their full potential."

Tatman said she would love to be a professor of linguistics, but she recognizes that there may be opportunities to work as a corporate researcher.

"It's no exaggeration to say that I wouldn’t be where I am now without the 1693 Scholars Program," she said. "And I think that nurturing amazing students is not only desirable, but necessary. It's an investment in the future."

 Peter Zimmerman '09
Peter Zimmerman '09Murray 1693 Scholar

Peter Zimmerman '09

Murray 1693 Scholar

Major: Art History

The music industry has undergone major changes in recent years. It’s a fact Peter Zimmerman '09 — who works in music marketing — is more aware of than most. He says his time as a Murray 1693 Scholar at William & Mary taught him invaluable career skills, such as the importance of creating long- and short-term goals and following through.

"Music and marketing are both industries where innovative ideas are incredibly important and are the bedrock of a successful campaign, but they’re only worthwhile if there’s significant follow through," he said.

Zimmerman, an art history major at William & Mary, was selected as a 1693 Scholar while the program was in its infancy. His was the program's second class, and he describes the experience as "hugely rewarding."

"There wasn't a big roadmap for us, but we all bonded together. And then, under the great leadership of (program director) Dan Cristol, we really grew together as a family," he said. "It galvanized our desire to make an impact at William & Mary and beyond. It's one of my fondest memories from school, hands down."

Zimmerman is head of publicity for the digital music marketing firm Toolshed Inc. and runs the company's San Francisco office. Toolshed works with independent musicians, bands and record labels to build individual, unique marketing plans. The company also provides consulting services to major international companies on music licensing.

"I really believe the music business is where my heart lies, but my main academic background is in contemporary art," Zimmerman said. "I'd love to build a hybrid model of new music and new art working together, with a gallery setting and live music venue. There could be great opportunities for sharing of ideas and artistic experimentation."

He said current 1693 Scholars should study diverse fields and take advantage of opportunities to "work with some of the best faculty in the nation."

"Some of my favorite moments at William & Mary were taking classes in religious studies, chemistry and anthropology — all of which were outside of my path in art history," Zimmerman said.

The 1693 Scholars Program provides leadership opportunities and encourages students to engage in academic endeavors that expand their minds and impact the world. "I couldn't be a bigger supporter of the program," Zimmerman said. "I hope I can do my part to make it available to students for generations to come."

 Tina Ho '09
Tina Ho '09Murray 1693 Scholar
Tina - Otolaryngology Resident at University of Kansas

Tina Ho '09

Murray 1693 Scholar

Majors: Neuroscience and International Relations

Tina Ho’s college decision was one of the toughest she has faced in her young life. But ultimately she realized a remarkable undergraduate experience was waiting for her in Williamsburg, with the opportunity to become part of the 1693 Scholars Program. As a Murray Scholar, Ho not only had access to unique learning opportunities, but the scholarship made it possible for the neuroscience major to branch out from her pre-med focus and pick up a second major in international relations. The scholarship also allowed Ho to spend a semester abroad at the University of Oxford and to attend a summer internship with Operation Smile Vietnam (OSV). Ho later returned to Vietnam as a medical student to study the epidemiology of cleft lip and palate among OSV patients.

“I was touched by how easily the patients and theirfamilies confided in me and their appreciative attitude towards me even though I had no effect on their care — just a mere exchange of smiles goes a long way,” says Ho. “From my summers in Vietnam, I returned with mental images of many innocent-faced patients and a re-invigorated dream to incorporate service into my future career on a global level.”

Ho went on to the University of Virginia School of Medicine, where she was drawn to the intricate anatomy of the head and neck. She is now in her last year of residency in otolaryngology (ear, nose, and throat) at the University of Kansas. After her residency, Ho plans on pursuing a fellowship in facial plastic surgery at the University of Illinois College of Medicine. She appreciates the challenges of restoring both appearance and function that arise with reconstruction cases.

“I enjoy playing a decisive role as a surgeon in providing immediate care to my patients. It has been an extremely rewarding opportunity to help care for others in a field that always mentally challenges me and pushes me to do my best,” Ho says.

It was Ho’s William & Mary education and experiences that gave her a solid foundation for her interest in service and global health.

“My undergraduate endeavors, both related and unrelated to medicine, fostered the other priority in my life — my passion for service — and its evolving relationship with my medical ambitions,”says Ho. “Beyond all ofthe given intimate advantages of being a Murray Scholar, I have also gained an even more priceless benefit from the program: the realization of how spectacularthis college is, based upon the multitude of opportunities and close-knit community that have fostered my combined passions for medicine and service.”

 Caitlin Clements '11
Caitlin Clements '11Murray 1693 Scholar

Caitlin Clements '11

Murray 1693 Scholar

Major: Literary and Cultural Studies (Film Concentration), French minor

Caitlin Clements did not have a typical first encounter with William & Mary. After a flight delay, she was late to the opening dinner of the 1693 Scholars interview weekend and had to change from flight apparel to dinner attire in the back of a taxi. While her first-ever journey to Williamsburg was accompanied by nerves, as soon as Caitlin arrived on campus, she knew she had found “her people.”

From the moment orientation week began, Clements says that the 1693 Scholars Program situated her within a tight-knit network of friends and scholars who helped her find her niches at William & Mary all the more quickly. And some of those who embraced her that first day have stayed with Clements long after she graduated.

“The faculty support and guidance offered from Dan Cristol and Kim Van Deusen is truly unique,” she says. “To have mentors like that in your corner during your W&M years — and well beyond graduation — is an extraordinary gift.”

Today, Clements currently works in New York as an assistant producer in a theatrical production office, Stacey Mindich Productions, which primarily focuses on Broadway and off-Broadway work.

However, she credits her 1693 Scholarship with laying the strong foundation that allowed her the opportunities,resources and support to make the initial move to the Big Apple. Clements was able to complete her master’s degree in cinema studies at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, while simultaneously screening her first feature film “Rough Draft” at a number of film festivals across the country, a film made possible only through the project funding granted through the 1693 Scholars Program.

Right now, Clements is focused on the November debut of her upcoming Broadway musical “Dear Evan Hansen,” which she helped co-produce. The show just wrapped up an off-Broadway run in New York this summer after its debut production in Washington, D.C., and the support of those at her alma mater continues to pour in.

“Dan, Kim and the 1693 Scholars have been so supportive of the production; following its journey with interest and enthusiasm each step of the way, and even bringing a large group of current and alumni scholars to D.C. to see the world-premiere production last summer,” she says.

Although her arrival at the 1693 Scholars weekend was less than smooth, being a William & Mary graduate has meant more to Caitlin than she could have ever imagined:

“Being a student at the university encouraged me to think creatively, to push the boundaries with big and bold ideas, and instilled in me the virtue of being forever intellectually curious and always hungry for new information and experiences — which makes life's journeys all the more fun and interesting!”

 Ethan Roday '14
Ethan Roday '14Murray 1693 Scholar

Ethan Roday '14

Murray 1693 Scholar

Majors: Computer Science, Linguistics

For Ethan Roday, the value of a liberal arts education is “impossible to overstate.”

“I fervently believe that everyone should get a liberal arts education,” he says. “And I fervently believe that William & Mary is among the greatest places in the world to do that.”

By day, he works for Microsoft, optimizing the algorithms that help companies deliver relevant advertising to users. While digging deep into data sets may not seem like a task for your typical liberal-arts graduate, Roday knows his W&M education was indispensible.

“I can’t think of many other universities where I could have double-majored in two such disparate fields as computer science and linguistics and forged deep and personal relationships with professors in both of those departments,” he says.

Roday calls linguistics “the academic love of my life,” and in combination with his computer science background, uses it to refine the processes that match user queries in a search engine like Bing with ads for relevant products and companies, while making sure they can also run flawlessly, thousands of times per second.

Outside of his work, Roday is continuing his musical journey, thanks to unforgettable experiences with W&M’s Botetourt Chamber Singers, better known as the “Bots.”Before arriving in Seattle, he joined them for an international tour which he calls “a perfect capstone to my W&M experience.”

“The director of Bots, Jamie Bartlett, is a prime example of someone who makes W&M such a special place,” he says. “In addition to being an excellent director and a supremely kind person, Dr. B was there for me as a mentor and guide, helping me through major life decisions and providing sage advice and support whenever I needed it.”

His 1693 Scholars research project produced a music notation app for iPad, showing his agility at the intersection of another language — music — and computing. He’s still at it, too: along with his position at Microsoft, he is pursuing a master’s in computational linguistics at the University of Washington in Seattle. It’s another extension of his double major at W&M.

“The central question of computational linguistics — also called Natural Language Processing (NLP) — is how we can use computers to solve problems that have to do with language and ultimately whether we can teach computers to understand language,” he says. “It sits squarely at the intersection of linguistics, computer science and machine learning.”

His master’s work will take him even further onto the cutting edge. Right now, he’s building a computer model that will use linguistic features to predict spontaneous applause in presidential debates. Those passions for language, music and its myriad uses began, in many ways, in Williamsburg.

“I now have a deep appreciation for language and our awesome power to communicate as humans,” he says. “That awareness pervades my life.

 Ollie Ehlinger '08
Ollie Ehlinger '08Murray 1693 Scholar

Ollie Ehlinger '08

Murray 1693 Scholar

Majors: Public Policy, Environmental Science

Oliver Ehlinger doesn’t remember a time when he didn’t know about William & Mary. As a child, he was a regular visitor, mesmerized by the beauty of the campus and of Williamsburg. He also noticed the unusually symbiotic relationship between campus and town. “William & Mary didn’t suck the air out of the surrounding area like in other college towns,” Ehlinger says. When he discovered he had earned both the 1693 Scholarship and an opportunity to run cross country and track, that sealed the deal: he was joining the Tribe.

Ehlinger says he only truly understood everything that William & Mary offered him when he graduated. The 1693 Scholars program gave Ehlinger the financial opportunity to attend the College as an out-of-state student, and he also says that it opened doors for him, literally and figuratively. He was able to meet visiting guests of William & Mary, take advantage of extra advising opportunities and talk with professors who were experts in their fields. 

More than anything, Ehlinger says the thing that he loved most about William & Mary was that everyone was authentic and dedicated to doing what they loved. “Folks were not afraid to display genuine passion,” he says. “Not because it would lead them to success or prestige, but because a subject truly captivated them.”

After graduating from William & Mary in 2008 with degrees in public policy and interdisciplinary studies, Ehlinger enrolled in law school at the University of California-Davis. He is currently the managing attorney for a satellite office of Legal Services of Northern California, a non-profit legal firm that provides free legal advice, advocacy and representation for low-income, disabled and elderly individuals. He and his colleagues assist people with all manner of civil legal issues, such as housing rights, public benefits, and education and consumer rights.

“This is an immensely rewarding career,” says Ehlinger. “Our clients are marginalized by a system that treats people as commodities, and it’s good to push the needle in their direction every once in a while.” He credits his interest in legal aid to his work with Williamsburg’s Rita Welsh Adult Literacy program (now Literacy for Life) when he was a student at William & Mary. Teaching people to read often led to helping them understand important documents such as leases and employee handbooks. Then, as now, Ehlinger felt like he was performing an important service.

As Ehlinger sits behind his desk piled high with citizenship applications, legal appeals and judicial decisions, he is thrilled to be helping so many people, while recognizing there are many more who require his services. Says Ehlinger, “There’s always more work to be done.”

 Michelle Munyikwa '11
Michelle Munyikwa '11Murray 1693 Scholar

Michelle Munyikwa '11

Murray 1693 Scholar

Majors: Anthropology, Biochemistry/molecular biology

As a shy high school senior with a passion for the life sciences, Michelle Munyikwa sought a university that would give her the opportunity to do research. At William & Mary, she found not only a strong research program, but also a social and intellectual community that would stay with her long after graduation.

When Munyikwa initially visited the William & Mary campus, she was struck by its sense of community. She loved that it was a medium-sized school that offered both social and intellectual stimulation, where professors really invested in their students. “I never expected it, but my professors still keep in touch and notice when I get published,” Munyikwa says. “They showed me what it means to be a good mentor.”

The 1693 Scholarship allowed Munyikwa to attend William & Mary, something that she believes would not have been possible otherwise. Once here, she settled in and, for the first time ever, made lifelong friends. “I moved around frequently as a child, so I did not have many long-standing relationships,” she says. “Almost all of my lasting friendships started at William & Mary.”

The scholarship gave her the opportunity to explore biology research, but she quickly realized that her passions lay elsewhere. She decided to double major in biology and anthropology, exploring different career possibilities before ultimately deciding on medicine.

Munyikwa enrolled in the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and ultimately decided to get an anthropology Ph.D. along with her medical degree. She is currently studying medicine while writing her dissertation on the refugees that have congregated in Philadelphia since World War II. She expects to graduate with both her M.D. and Ph.D. in 2020.

In the meantime, she has found a way to combine the two fields by working part-time as a field researcher for large non-profit organizations conducting political and messaging campaigns. Based on conversations with target audiences, she helps companies determine how to message certain issues. Upon graduation, she plans to continue similar work, performing research that is policy-relevant for health care.

“Anthropology gave me the toolkit to ask questions from a non-medical perspective,” she says. “William & Mary is where I learned how to ask tough questions and also find the ways to answer them.”

Munyikwa says she can’t help but feel nostalgic for her alma mater when she comes across fellow alumni out in the world. “All William & Mary alumni share certain characteristics in common,” she says. “They’re all exceptionally interesting people, who are motivated to change the world and make it better.”

 Jennifer MacLure '10
Jennifer MacLure '10Murray 1693 Scholar

Jennifer MacLure '10

Murray 1693 Scholar

Major: English
Jennifer MacLure came to William & Mary with her sights set on medical school, and left with a love of avant-garde 20th-century writers. “I was a freshman with a million interests. I wanted to take every class, major in everything and join every club,” MacLure says. Her time at William & Mary allowed her to explore many different fields and develop her passions and talents. “The advising and guidance I received in the 1693 Scholars Program provided some direction, helped me set goals and gave me access to the resources I needed to meet those goals.”

The choice of where to go to college was a challenging one. MacLure had to choose between William & Mary and an Ivy League school she had dreamed of attending since she was a child. After visiting William & Mary, however, MacLure knew this “Public Ivy” would give her the opportunity to work closely with professors and personalize her education. She says it is one of the best decisions she’s ever made.

“I entered William & Mary as a kid who loved to learn, and I left as a scholar. I still love to learn, but my William & Mary professors and classmates taught me that I could do more than just absorb information. They helped me find my own voice and gave me the tools I needed to produce knowledge instead of just gaining it,” she says.

MacLure just defended her Ph.D. dissertation on Victorian literature at the University of Wisconsin, and this fall, she will begin a position as an assistant professor of English specializing in 19th-century British literature at Kent State University in Ohio. Her dissertation, “Contagious Communities: The Politics of Bodily Contact in Victorian Novels,” incorporates her love of medical science with her specialty in 19thcentury literature.

“I continue to be interested in interdisciplinary collaboration between the humanities and STEM fields,” MacLure says. “Particularly at a time when nearly all universities are facing funding cuts, I think it's important that we are able to talk productively across disciplines and understand the value of and the need for work in fields unlike our own.”

As a professor, MacLure hopes to inspire students in the way that William & Mary professors inspired her to reach her potential. “I feel so fortunate that I will get to spend my career pursuing the research questions that matter to me, and in the classroom, I hope to help students develop the skills they need to ask and answer the questions that matter to them,” she says.
 Jerillyn Kent '08
Jerillyn Kent '08Murray 1693 Scholar

Jerillyn Kent '08

Murray 1693 Scholar

Majors: Psychology, Biology
After graduating, she began a graduate program in clinical psychology at Indiana University, studying cerebellar abnormalities in individuals with schizophrenia. She earned her Ph.D. in 2015 and currently works as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Minnesota, continuing her study of schizophrenia. While the pace of research is slow and the scope of any individual research question can be rather narrow, Jeri thrives on the process.

“There isn’t anything more exciting to me than asking questions that no one has an answer for, and then trying to find the answers to those questions,” she enthuses. “I am part of a large network of researchers, all of whom share the ultimate goal of having a positive impact on the lives of individuals with schizophrenia.”

Upon completion of her postdoctoral training, her goal is to eventually become a psychology professor. The prospect of providing a new generation of students with the same quality of mentorship that she received as a 1693 Scholar is appealing.

“During my experience at William & Mary and then as a graduate student and postdoc, I have benefited immensely from the mentorship that I received, which has helped me clarify my goals and most effectively pursue them,” she says. “I have already had some opportunities to mentor students, and look forward to the chance to serve in that capacity on a more official basis.”

As she navigates the highly complex and ever-changing world of medical research and academia, she points to an experience as a 1693 Scholar that remains instructive. She was one of the first students in the program, so in the beginning she did not have many peers to join in the mentoring lunches that are a hallmark of the program. Early on, through a fluke of scheduling, she ended up having a mentoring lunch alone with four deans.

“I was probably 19 years old, and felt very intimidated, but I just did my best,” she remembers. “It was an important lesson in learning how to rise to the occasion.”
 Mohima Sanyal '14
Mohima Sanyal '14Murray 1693 Scholar

Mohima Sanyal '14

Murray 1693 Scholar

Major: Cognitive Science, Biology minor

Mohima Sanyal was no typical high-school student. Growing up in Northern Virginia, she was a talented scientist from a tender age. By the time she graduated from high school, she had won an internship award at the U.S. Naval Research Lab, was interning at a neuroscience research lab at George Mason University and co-authored a peer-reviewed paper in The Biological Bulletin.

With such impressive credentials, Mohima could have chosen any number of schools to
hone her abilities. She chose William & Mary, for reasons both academic and personal.

“Even in my first visits to William & Mary, I was impressed that everyone was so genuine and by how attentive each person was to their environment,” she remembers. “It was amazing to find such a perfect home.”

The 1693 Scholars Program was the perfect fit for Mohima, who says she was inspired to really contemplate the big picture of her interests. She wanted to pursue medicine but she was also interested in the study of different cultures and human systems. Based on the mentoring she received as a Murray 1693 Scholar, she ultimately created her own major, an interdisciplinary mix combining elements of anthropology, linguistics and neuroscience.

“What began as small seedlings of interest in medicine and public health grew into the interdisciplinary foundation for my present,” she says. “Because of the 1693 Scholars Program, I had stunning opportunities to learn one-on-one with those who were essentially the founders of my fields of interest.”

Mohima graduated in 2014, delaying medical school for one year to complete a Master of Science degree at the University of Oxford. She is now in the midst of completing a combined M.D. and Master of Public Health degree at the University of Pennsylvania, working with the PolicyLab at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to improve physicians’ prescribing behaviors toward publicly-insured youth. In this current project, she is using the interdisciplinary foundation she built as a 1693 Scholar, combining medicine with a desire to address healthcare disparities in traditionally underserved populations.

“I am immensely fortunate to work in the healthcare field,” she says. “I hope to connect with my patients to build a relationship that is centered on trust and clear communication.”

As she works toward the completion of her degree, Mohima looks forward to working on issues of healthcare access with policymakers in Philadelphia and meeting with collaborators across the nation working to make the healthcare system more effective and affordable. These are exactly the sort of challenges for which she feels the 1693 Scholars Program prepared her well.

“I learned how to lean into the discomfort that often comes part and parcel with worthwhile challenges, to listen, ask questions and collaborate,” she says. “When anyone asks me where I went to undergrad,  I always say “William & Mary, and it was the best decision I ever made.”

 Max Miroff '16
Max Miroff '16Stamps 1693 Scholar
Max Miroff

Max Miroff '16

Stamps 1693 Scholar

Majors: Philosophy and Computer Science

Max Miroff ’16 was like many students who attend William & Mary. He wanted an Ivy League-caliber education, but dreamed of something more. Miroff wanted to be part of a tight-knit, intellectually curious community that included direct interaction with professors. William & Mary provided all those things. The 1693 Scholars Program served to reinforce what he liked about the university and gave him the freedom to further pursue his intellectual passions by eliminating the financial stress of a college education.

Miroff recalls the defining moment that confirmed he had made a wise decision in choosing William & Mary. As a sophomore, he organized an undergraduate philosophy conference on campus, with participants from across the nation.

“The conference was a culmination of everything I had heard about William & Mary’s values and priorities,” Miroff said. “The experience was an electrifying moment, exemplifying the best part of William & Mary — genuine consideration and appreciation for undergraduates and their work. A bigger university would have laughed at the idea of an undergraduate academic conference.”

Miroff came to William & Mary interested in philosophy, with initial plans to go straight into a Ph.D. program after graduation to further his education on the subject. However, exposure to W&M’s liberal arts environment made him realize that he should learn a subject outside of humanities in order to develop both his qualitative and quantitative mind. During his sophomore year, Miroff began studying computer science and the 1693 Scholars Program afforded him the opportunity to pursue a double major in philosophy and computer science, despite a late start on his computer science degree.

“It is unlikely that I would have been able to branch out of the humanities without the 1693 Scholars Program.” he said. 

After William & Mary, Miroff began law school at Columbia University where he graduated last spring. He was inspired to study law because of a philosophy class he took taught by Professor Paul Davies. Davies’ class combined neuroscience and philosophy to examine what actions are under human control and how those actions impact laws. 

“I saw a law career as a natural way of applying what I learned in philosophy,” he said.

Miroff will soon be starting at the law firm of Latham & Watkins, considered one of the most prestigious law firms in the nation. Although he did not pursue a career in computer science, he said it was a worthwhile endeavor and would encourage everyone to branch out into new and unfamiliar fields.

For the past three years Miroff has travelled back to campus to help conduct finalists’ interviews for the 1693 Scholars Program. Miroff said that he has a responsibility to give back to the program because it made a profound impact on his life.

“As the 1693 Scholars Program continues to produce several classes of scholars, alumni engagement is increasingly becoming an important benefit of the program,” he said. “Former scholars have gone on to have great experiences after William & Mary and are such an important resource to current students.”

Miroff also considers it an important part of his role as a former 1693 Scholar to extol the program’s benefits to potential scholars.

“The 1693 Scholars Program is an incredible gift that you earn and correspondingly there is a responsibility to use it well,” he often tells potential scholars. “Dedicate your summers to what you are passionate about. You are given unbelievable freedom by having the financial burden of college taken care of and you should use that freedom in a very mindful way.”

 Alison Roberts '15
Alison Roberts '15Murray 1693 Scholar
Alison Roberts

Alison Roberts '15

Murray 1693 Scholar

Majors: Biology and Government
When searching for schools, Alison Roberts ’15 knew she wanted a university with great science and research programs. William & Mary stood out to her because of its reputation for providing its undergraduates with exposure to these areas very early on in their college careers.

“Whereas most schools can only boast strength in one of these areas, William & Mary is able to truly say it has extraordinary programs in both,” she said. For Alison, it was the perfect mix. Admittance into the 1693 Scholars Program sealed the deal.

“It took a lot of pressure off of me, and consequently allowed me to make the most of my experience,” she explains. “More importantly, the scholarship meant that I could focus on my studies and interests outside of the classroom.”

One of the many things Alison was able to participate in because of the 1693 Scholars Program was the Student Organization for Medical Outreach and Sustainability (SOMOS), where she gained practical experience in the field of public health. Throughout her undergraduate career, Alison learned about theories on empowerment of poor and oppressed populations and how they affected health, but she never got to witness their application firsthand. Then at the end of her senior year, she travelled to the Dominican Republic with SOMOS and saw the public health theories she had been learning about in action and making a difference.

“I realized that the education I received was not only applicable, but truly world changing,” she remembers about the experience.

In addition to affording her the opportunity to get involved with SOMOS, the program provided Alison guidance and support in pursuit of her interests. “Dan and Kim were always there for any questions I had about William & Mary, summer research, or life in general,” she said.

Alison had a few inklings of interest in public health prior to coming to William & Mary, but her enthusiasm for the field was really cultivated during her freshman year. In her freshman seminar on Emerging Diseases, Alison discovered how science could interact with policy and politics and was instantly hooked.

After William & Mary, Alison worked as a consultant with Deloitte US for two years. “But consulting was not my passion,” she said. “The 1693 Scholars Program instills in you the confidence that you can do anything and inspires you to pursue your passion.” So, Alison did just that.

For the past two years Alison has worked as an urban health policy fellow at the City of Philadelphia Department of Public Health. As a fellow, Alison was involved in the Viral Hepatitis Program where she served as perinatal hepatitis C program coordinator, assisting the city’s larger hepatitis surveillance program. She also worked with the Division of Chronic Disease Prevention, helping to achieve its mission of making a healthy lifestyle the norm in Philadelphia.

In August, Alison started law school at Harvard in pursuit of a joint degree in law and public health. While working with the department of public health of a major city, she saw the impact law can have in public health, particularly in regard to healthcare access and enabling healthy choices.

“I want to learn a defined skill and use it to further public health,” she says about her decision to attend law school.

As Alison prepares to take the next step in following her passion, she is thankful to William & Mary and the 1693 Scholars Program for helping her get to this point.
 Bert Cortina '11
Bert Cortina '11Murray 1693 Scholar

Bert Cortina '11

Murray 1693 Scholar

Major: Computer Science

As most students discover, college is a great time to explore future interests. George “Bert” Cortina ’11 took this opportunity to whole new level.

Soon after arriving on campus, he began to pursue his interest in science through research in Professor Mark Forsyth's microbiology lab. When an opportunity was announced to participate in a two-week exchange trip to China to study the country’s environmental policies, Cortina signed up immediately.

“I spent a lot of time thinking about what I wanted to do going forward and I focused on using my time to explore a wide variety of options,” said Cortina. “William & Mary was the perfect place to do this.”

Cortina spent two summers doing research in Boston and at a government internship in Washington D.C. He also studied abroad in Spain. “Half my family is from Cuba and I wanted to have an immersion experience so I could improve my Spanish to better communicate with them,” said Cortina, who studied comparative government in Spain. “The great thing about William & Mary is that no one told me, ‘no, you can’t do this because you are a science major.’”

Through all his experiences, Cortina kept coming back to his combined interests in technology and biology. He is grateful for the guidance from 1693 Scholars Program Director Dan Cristol as he landed on the decision to major in computer science.

“Being a 1693 Scholar certainly accelerated my opportunities to discover and gain exposure to so many different things,” said Cortina. “It gave me the ability to get really deep into an interest but also maintain a broad perspective.”

In May, Cortina graduated from the University of Virginia (UVA) with a combined M.D./Ph.D. degree in biomedical engineering. Thanks to his experience with developing his own research questions and hypotheses at W&M, he felt well-prepared for the rigorous graduate program.

“William & Mary taught me how to learn, which, to me, is just as valuable as learning the actual facts,” said Cortina. “It is a skill I can always fall back on. If I don’t know something, I feel comfortable learning it.”

Cortina also credits his liberal arts training from W&M with helping him think more creatively in approaching research problems. Over the past year, Cortina has been working with Duke University to build machine learning models that incorporate an early alarm system to anticipate negative outcomes for hospitalized patients. This summer, he will start a five-year anesthesia residency at Duke.

“The 1693 Scholars Program was really special to me,” said Cortina, who now helps to interview 1693 Scholars finalists. “I enjoy coming back to see how the program has grown and to hear what the current students are working on. I am forever grateful to be part of this wonderful group.”

 Meredith Boulos Haag '14
Meredith Boulos Haag '14Murray 1693 Scholar

Meredith Boulos Haag '14

Murray 1693 Scholar

Major: Environmental Toxicology
Meredith Haag ’14 can easily trace a direct line from where she is today back to the 1693 Scholars Program.

Like many, she was drawn to William & Mary because of its unique combination of the research capacity of a large academic university with the close access to professors of a small liberal arts college. What she discovered was her passion for service and her desire to pursue a future career as a pediatrician.

“I knew William & Mary had a service-oriented culture. The 1693 Scholars Program enabled me to repurpose my call for service in an academic way and put an actual methodology behind what I was doing,” said Haag. “The spirit of the program promotes intellectual exploration wherever it takes you, which allowed me to explore a wide breadth of interests.”

During her time at William & Mary, Meredith participated in several international research opportunities, but it was her work in Ghana partnering with a community to improve sanitation and toilet practices for children that set her future trajectory.

“It was while doing community-based public health work that I discovered the seeds of my passion for pediatrics,” said Haag. “Professor Dan Cristol set the standard for excellent mentorship in supporting me as I worked through my future plan to pursue an MD/MPH. I am so grateful for his guidance.”

After graduating with a self-designed major in environmental toxicology, Haag applied to medical school. In June, she graduated with honors, as a member of Alpha Omega Alpha, from Oregon Health & Science University with a combined medical degree and master’s degree in public health. She will start her pediatrics residency this summer.

During her time in medical school, Haag maintained the drive and enthusiasm for service she honed at William & Mary. She worked on research and advocacy to promote safe firearm storage for gun-owning parents and helped underserved populations access safe infant sleep options.

“There is a definite thread between this work and my water and sanitation work at William & Mary,” said Haag. In Ghana, she saw the impact of a water pump that was installed by a wellmeaning service organization, but was never used because it wasn’t a local priority. She used this lesson when she approached firearm safety to be sure the solutions proposed were ones that firearm-owning parents would employ to keep their children safe.

Haag’s community engagement and volunteer work also included drafting and presenting a resolution engaging the Oregon Medical Association to endorse a ban on flavored e-cigarettes in the state of Oregon, which was unanimously passed by the board in June 2018. As an American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Pediatric Trainee Resolution Task Force member, she wrote a policy proposal to promote independent adolescent consent for HPV vaccination. The proposal is currently awaiting review by AAP leadership.

“The idea of how to transform a passion for serving a population into an actionable and sustainable solution came from William & Mary and the 1693 Scholars Program,” said Haag. “I’ll always be grateful for the opportunity the university gave me to carve out my niche, and the joy in service that the 1693 program instilled in me.”
 Jessica Joyce '17
Jessica Joyce '17Stamps 1693 Scholar
Jessica Joyce

Jessica Joyce '17

Stamps 1693 Scholar

Major: Biology, Chemistry minor

Jessica Joyce grew up in a family committed to public service. That commitment to service is part of what drew her to William & Mary.

“I wanted to go to a school where serving the community is part of daily life — W&M, as an institution, is committed to that,” says Joyce. “I loved the community focus of the 1693 Scholars Program and being surrounded by students from many backgrounds who brought different perspectives to the table.”

Joyce came to W&M with a strong science background, having already participated in research to look at protein accumulation in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients as a student at the Loudoun County Academy of Science in Sterling, Virginia.

The summer after her freshman year at W&M, Joyce’s science background helped her land a paid internship with a forensic science team in a law enforcement agency. She was assigned to a counterterrorism project to assess new types of international threats.

“I fell in love with the fast-paced nature of the work and the potential to make a measurable impact in the world,” says Joyce. “We were confronted with hard problems, and I saw that the lawyers in the room got to make the big-picture decisions about how to approach those problems.”

A biology major with a chemistry minor, Joyce continued to focus on lab research at W&M. During the summer, she worked in the tumor genetics department at St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. She spent the fall semester of her senior year as part of a clinical team researching HIV at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

“I shifted toward clinical research because I hoped I would get the sense of making a direct impact that I felt in my counterterrorism work,” says Joyce. “But what I ended up realizing was that most of the problems patients faced were less about the science involved and more about how, for one reason or another, they couldn’t get the care they needed. There are so many people who care about what is going on in the world and who want to make a difference, but just don’t know where or how to start.”

Joyce felt that earning a law degree would enable her to make an impact.

“I went to law school because I wanted to do work that you need a law degree for, not because I wanted to be lawyer,” says Joyce, who received a full scholarship to attend the University of Virginia School of Law.

During her time in law school, Joyce worked for the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. She also started a policy team for the Innocence Project at UVA Law, which helped get two Virginia state laws passed during her third year.

“Often when something needs to get done, all you need is someone to step up and figure out how to do it,” says Joyce. “The 1693 Scholars Program helped foster my courage to try to make things happen.”

After graduating law school in 2020, she worked for one year as a clerk for Judge Carl J. Nichols in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. She will clerk for Judge Ryan D. Nelson on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in the coming year.

This year, Joyce was excited to help with the 1693 Scholars finalist interviews. She feels that being part of the 1693 Scholar Program at a young age helped her build the mindset that she has something valuable to add to the world, and she is happy to see that message passed on the next group of scholars.

“That is a very powerful message to receive as a young person: ‘We believe you have something to offer.’ It is communicated through word and deed by 1693 donors and everyone who is part of the program,” says Joyce. “I still feel it today and it continues to serve me.

It was a life-changing lesson in every sense of the word, and one that I am very grateful to have received.”

 Dylan Kolhoff '14
Dylan Kolhoff '14Murray 1693 Scholar
Dylan Kolhoff

Dylan Kolhoff '14

Murray 1693 Scholar

Major: International Relations

Dylan Kolhoff’s first few weeks at William & Mary certainly got off to an unusual start. Not long before he arrived on campus, Kolhoff had a spinal fusion surgery to treat scoliosis.

“It was a weird moment in my life,” says Kolhoff. “I needed to rest a lot and I couldn’t help move myself into my own dorm room. Coming to college, you expect some of the ‘limits’ from living at home to be removed but that certainly wasn’t the case for me physically.”

Yet Kolhoff soon discovered that W&M was a place for him to grow and shine. An international relations major, he participated in W&M’s student-run theater company, Shakespeare in the Dark, and became president of his dorm, Monroe Hall.

“At W&M, I found a community of smart, interested and interesting people,” says Kolhoff. “I met so manypeople who were driven to do something because they love it. You don’t always see that at so-called prestigious universities. It is a powerful and rare asset of W&M.”

In the summer before his sophomore year, before another scheduled back surgery, Kolhoff used his 1693 program research stipend to travel to China where he studied the possible future of democracy in that country.

When he returned, he worked with a journalist through a W&M partnership with the Pulitzer Center to write an article based on the research.

“I applied what I learned on my adventure to my academics,” saysKolhoff. “The 1693 Scholars Program enabled opportunities to expand my horizons in very palpable ways.”

While at W&M, Kolhoff worked at the university’s Global Research Institute’s AidData lab as a research assistant contributing to a huge dataset project focused on tracking China’s secretive foreign aid spending. He spent his entire junior year abroad in Beijing and was a research fellow for W&M’s Project on International Peace and Security (PIPS) program his senior year.

“W&M gave me incredible contact with professionals to talk through ideas and come up with real solutions,” says Kolhoff. “It is such a supportive environment where the impact and input of students is
really appreciated.”

After graduation, Kolhoff taught English in a rural village through the Teach for China program and then worked as an educational consultant in Shanghai for about a year.

“My time in China really opened my eyes to some of the difficulties international NGOs face,” says Kolhoff, who took a couple of months to travel the globe on his own. “During my travels, I set up interviews with the heads of teaching, fair trade and education NGOs in India, Nepal, China, South Korea and Vietnam and wrote and published articles about their challenges.”

Kolhoff credits the 1693 Scholars Program with empowering him to follow his passions.

“At W&M, I was encouraged to dream what about what is possible and then figure out how to do it,” says Kolhoff. “The 1693 Scholars Program sparked my interest in the power of connections and
conversations, as did the other scholars, who are driven in so many areas of life.”

Since graduating from Yale Law School in 2016, Kolhoff has served as counsel for Dianne Feinstein in the Senate Judiciary Committee and a term clerk for Judge T.S. Ellis III in the Eastern District of
Virginia. This summer he will join the law firm of Covington & Burling as an associate focused on international law and litigation.

“I’m so grateful for the incredible contacts, widened perspective and tremendous support I received through the 1693 Scholars Program,” says Kolhoff. “It is so rare and powerful to have such wonderful
people cheer you on. Their positive influence to pursue what’s possible will always be with me.”

 Isabelle Cohen ’11
Isabelle Cohen ’11Murray 1693 Scholar
isabelle cohen

Isabelle Cohen ’11

Murray 1693 Scholar

Major: International Relations

“My time at William & Mary was made up of a tapestry of little moments,” says Isabelle Cohen ’11. “I look back on times late at night with friends talking about random stuff, participating in research and conversations with professors, and that diverse fabric coalesced into a fantastic undergraduate experience that brought me to where I am today.” 

Originally from San Rafael, California, Cohen came to William & Mary in large part due to her interest in the 1693 Scholars Program and the international study opportunities a W&M education affords. Once at college, Cohen made deep connections with her fellow scholarship recipients and received life-changing mentorship and experiences through the program.

“During my undergrad, I worked a lot with Mike Tierney at William & Mary’s AidData lab in the Global Research Institute,” Cohen recollects. Being a research assistant on that project started her interest in development economics and led her to her current role and the field she studies.

As a student, Cohen majored in International Relations, and in addition to her research with AidData, she was also involved in the LGBTQ+ Alliance, Young Democrats, served as editor of the DoG Street Journal, performed in several student-produced plays and completed a fifth-year Master of Public Policy program through W&M. Cohen also was able to study abroad in and travel to Jordan, Ecuador, Mexico and India thanks to the scholarship funding she received. She attributes this chance to pursue her varied interests to the relief from financial burden provided by the Murray Scholarship.

“The extent of deep and rich support I received at William & Mary to travel and learn internationally was invaluable,” she says. “This is an incredible time of life to support someone so fully, as the Murray Scholarship does — it has huge impacts down the line for them.”

After W&M, Cohen secured a position as a research assistant at Duke University studying financial inclusion in South India. “I then decided that if I was going to study countries in the global south, I needed to have spent more time in one — so I held a similar research position in India for two years managing our in-country teams.”

Following her time in India, Cohen then also continued her education at the University of California, Berkeley and received her Ph.D. in economics — in the fall of 2021, she accepted a position as an assistant professor at the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Washington in Seattle. Cohen studies development economics and public finance, and her research takes her across the globe. She works with partners to understand the impact of technology on individuals and their access to economic mobility in developing and non-Western nations.

“I love teaching, I love the research I get to do, and the community here is great,” Cohen says. “Now, as a professor looking back, I can see how fortunate I was with the many different professors I had at W&M — how great and deep those connections were — and that’s something that I want to continue to take forward in this role and my career ahead.”

 Francesca Fornasini ’10
Francesca Fornasini ’10Murray 1693 Scholar
francesca fornasini

Francesca Fornasini ’10

Murray 1693 Scholar

Majors: Physics and English

“I discovered an interest in physics in high school because it was the class that most challenged my brain,” Fornasini says. “I also enjoyed literature and languages, so between these two things I had no idea what I wanted to do with those passions when it came to going to university. Luckily, William & Mary allowed me to do both.”

Born in Milan, Francesca Fornasini ’10 grew up in Rockville, Maryland, and was drawn to W&M for the chance to explore her varied passions. During her time as an undergraduate student, Fornasini majored both in English and physics, traditionally disparate disciplines but two areas of interest.

She participated in unique research opportunities while at W&M through the Murray Scholars’ Research Fund as part of the program. “I was able to do research on the linguistics of my grandmothers’ regional Italian dialects while also studying astrophysics, something I never thought I would have been able to do in college,” she says.

“I got to explore different types of research and different types of engagement with others to help me figure out what I wanted to do postgraduation. I ended up doing a thesis project with two professors in the physics department, which was a formative experience for my career path.”

Fornasini was able to engage in research opportunities thanks to the 1693 Scholars Program, participating in the independent linguistics study at W&M as well as working in three different physics labs. This experience helped when she applied to the National Science Foundation’s Research Experience for Undergrads (REU) program in astrophysics at the University of Hawaii.

In addition to her research and travel experiences, Fornasini also participated in Swing Dance Club, Ballroom Club and the outdoor recreation opportunities afforded by W&M’s lush campus.

Most notably, she facilitated an independent, extra-curricular panel discussion as an upper-classman to explore the intersection of faith and science. She was also involved in Catholic Campus Ministries as a student, and thanks to the connections she had made both in and out of the classroom, she brought together professors and students for a meaningful and memorable conversation.

Following graduation from William & Mary, Fornasini continued her studies at the University of California, Berkeley where she received her Ph.D. in astrophysics. While at Berkeley, she discovered her love of teaching and engaging with students in the classroom in addition to her work as a researcher.

“I had great mentors both at W&M and in grad school who helped me figure out what I liked about research and teaching, or ‘public speaking’ to the same captive audience over and over again, as I saw it at the time,” she laughs. “Now, I am able to provide that same opportunity for other students to explore and find their passions through my role as a professor. I love seeing undergrad researchers grow in their confidence across a summer. I enjoy connecting with my students through thoughtful conversations, as I did at William & Mary.”

In 2020, Fornasini started in her position as an assistant professor in the physics department at Stonehill College, a Catholic university in Easton, Massachusetts, pursuing research in black holes and other extreme astrophysical objects.

“I want to be able to give to my students those same important formative experiences that I had thanks to the opportunities provided to me through the 1693 Scholars Program. I view it as paying it forward — the same time and resources that someone invested in me I can give that back to someone else and keep the impact moving forward.”

 Daniel Duane '15
Daniel Duane '15Murray 1693 Scholar
Daniel Duane

Daniel Duane '15

Murray 1693 Scholar

Majors: Physics and Government

“I graduated from William & Mary in 2015 with a double major in Physics and Government. I currently live in Rhode Island, where I work as an oceanographer at a government lab.

When I visited William & Mary in high school, I got the sense that W&M students had a wide variety of interests. It was common to meet students pursuing a double major in two very different topics (as I ended up doing). The focus on undergraduate teaching and the opportunities for undergraduate research were also significant factors in my decision to go to William & Mary.

As a student at W&M, I conducted research with Professor Mark Hinders in the Applied Science department, where I studied acoustic triangulation of underwater drones under icebergs. I worked as an intern and a fellow with the Project on International Peace and Security, an undergraduate think tank where students would write and present policy briefs. I also participated in the 24 Speed Film Festival for all four years at William & Mary, where students would write, shoot, and edit films over the course of 24 hours.

After graduating from William & Mary, I enrolled in the Ph.D. program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology-Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program in Oceanography, where I worked in the Laboratory for Undersea Remote Sensing at MIT. I studied the use of wide-area acoustic sensing to survey fish populations over thousands of square kilometers, providing imagery of schools containing millions of fish. I graduated in 2022, and in the last year I have been working as an oceanographer at a government research lab. Some of my recent publications have studied the effect of the COVID-19 shipping restrictions on the behavior of fish and whales, as well as the response of coral reef biological soundscapes to moonlight.

My favorite thing about oceanography is the potential to discover something new. While satellites and cameras have allowed us to map out the earth’s surface in great detail, they can’t penetrate the sea surface very far, so large parts of the ocean remain unobserved and unexplored. Acoustic sensing in the ocean provides an opportunity to probe the unknown in a way that’s rare in the 21st century.

While my undergraduate research and coursework in physics were crucial preparation for graduate school, I was genuinely surprised by how useful my major in government ended up being. I think that many Ph.D. students in STEM fields struggle to synthesize information in a way that keeps their audience in mind, and college courses in science typically underemphasize this skill in favor of making sure students know the basics of their field. The courses I took for my government major and especially my experience with the Project on International Peace and Security (PIPS) turned out to be immensely valuable for writing scientific papers, research proposals and my Ph.D. thesis.

The 1693 program gave me the opportunity to explore and find my passion. Like many college students, I had a lot of uncertainty about the direction I wanted to take my career, and the financial support and academic guidance support provided by the program helped me navigate that path. I am incredibly grateful to the donors of the 1693 program for providing me this opportunity."

 Alena Stern '12
Alena Stern '12Murray 1693 Scholar
Alena Stern

Alena Stern '12

Murray 1693 Scholar

Majors: International Relations and Economics

“Hello! My name is Alena Stern and I graduated from William & Mary in 2012 as a double major in international relations and economics. I currently live in Washington, D.C., where I’m the associate director of data science at the Urban Institute.

After graduating W&M, I briefly moved to D.C. to work for an international development contractor, but I returned to Williamsburg in 2013 to work for AidData when they were awarded $25 million from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) as part of Higher Education Solutions Network. Over my five years working at AidData, I saw the promise of new computational approaches to research for powering more effective policy and program design, and I knew that was the direction in which I wanted to take my career. I returned to school to earn a master’s degree in computational analysis and public policy from the University of Chicago. In July 2019, I joined the Urban Institute’s data science team, where I’ve been working ever since.

 In addition to my job at the Urban Institute, I’m also an adjunct professor at Georgetown University, where I teach Intro to data science and try to live up to the excellent examples of teaching set for me by my professors at W&M!

My undergraduate research experience at W&M undoubtedly paved the course of my career. The 1693 Scholarship is what initially drew me to William & Mary, but it was the faculty that I met during the 1693 Scholars finalist weekend, particularly Professor Mike Tierney ’88, M.A. ’88, P ’15 — who would become my undergraduate advisor and research supervisor (and my colleague after graduation) — who made it clear that W&M is a place that values undergraduate education and creates opportunities for students to undertake truly collaborative research with faculty.

I loved my time at W&M. I was involved in the William & Mary Debate Team and undergraduate research at the Institute for the Theory and Practice of International Relations (ITPIR), now the Global Research Institute. One of my most memorable experiences was working with current AidData Executive Director Brad Parks ’03 on research, including designing a randomized control trial in Uganda for a grant application and co-authoring a paper related to the Teaching, Research, and International Policy (TRIP) project. I was able to present the research at the International Studies Association in Montreal, where I was the only undergraduate student in the room. This type of research experience is typically reserved for graduate students, and I feel so fortunate that I had that kind of rich experience as an undergraduate.

Philanthropic investment in educational opportunities creates truly life changing opportunities for students. I want to express my deepest thanks to the donors of the 1693 program. Your generous support has changed my life and I am so grateful.

Without the 1693 program, I wouldn’t have attended W&M, which has shaped the course of my life immeasurably. I wouldn’t have met Professor Tierney before ever arriving on campus, which enabled me to quickly get involved in undergraduate research at ITPIR — that was the experience that first sparked my interest in using data analysis to inform public policy. Graduating college without student loan debt is an immense privilege enabled by philanthropy, and I am tremendously grateful to have received the 1693 scholarship.”