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!
Olivia Walch '11
Murray 1693 Scholar
“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
Murray 1693 Scholar
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
Murray 1693 Scholar
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
Murray 1693 Scholar
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."
Rachael Tatman '12
Murray 1693 Scholar
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
Murray 1693 Scholar
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
Murray 1693 Scholar
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
Murray 1693 Scholar
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
Murray 1693 Scholar
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
Murray 1693 Scholar
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
Murray 1693 Scholar
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
Murray 1693 Scholar
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
Murray 1693 Scholar
“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
Murray 1693 Scholar
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
Stamps 1693 Scholar
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
Murray 1693 Scholar
“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
Murray 1693 Scholar
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
Murray 1693 Scholar
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.”