Yorick Oden-Plants

Murray 1693 ScholarYorick


Tucson, AZ 

Why William & Mary

When I was touring colleges as a prospective freshman, I loved asking stupid questions. College tour guides, reps, and even some professors seem to have a script they use to attract high school seniors that don’t really know what they’re looking for. Every college will claim they have the ideal student-faculty ratio, or that they have a top-notch honor code that unfailingly prevents anyone from stealing your things if you leave them at the library. They’ll all tell you that ‘there’s a club for anything, and if not you can start one!’, and ‘Our student body is really active in volunteering!’. The truth is, for the most part, no one you meet is willing to tell you you anything concrete about their school. By asking a silly question and forcing folks off script, I really think you can learn a lot about a university.

“If the student body was an animal, what animal would they be?” According to Professor Charity Hudley, the animal that best represents William & Mary’s student body is the awkward turtle. Not any turtle. Specifically the awkward turtle. That really resonated with me, as I had just spent ten minutes awkwardly walking around a crowded room trying to figure out where to sit. I toured 17 colleges my senior year and that was by far the least flattering and best thought out animal I’d heard. Looking back on that interaction, I’d say the awkward turtle has stood the test of time.

If I were a college rep or a tour guide, I might say something like “The great thing about sea turtles is that even though they aren’t considered ‘social animals’, they go to great lengths to be there for each other. That’s the vibe I get everytime I step on campus.”  But I’m not a college tour guide. William and Mary hosts a diverse pool of student personalities and boiling them down to a cliche caricature is probably unproductive. Ultimately, I’m sure the people here are similar to those at other colleges. Our student-faculty ratio is pretty similar to colleges in our tier. We don’t teach a special type of history or biology or math that is somehow better than the history or biology or math you’d be taught at any other accredited institution. I imagine people even steal laptops from the library at similar rates to those that steal laptops from college libraries all across the United States.

So why William & Mary? If I don’t really buy into the idea that each college is unique and will uniquely impact your life in a way that is specific to that institution, why didn’t I just flip a coin or throw a dart at a map and call it a day? I chose William and Mary for the support of the 1693 Scholars Program. While I can’t speak for all 6,299 undergraduates at the college, I can say that the community of scholars centered at the Murray House is one I’m very glad to be a part of. Couple that with the incredible support of our program directors, priority class registration, private study spaces, and free laundry and you’ve got a package that’s nearly impossible to say no to. Oh, and the full in-state scholarship doesn’t hurt either.


Self designed major in Applied Ecology

W&M Activities
  • Haven Volunteer
  • Climbing Club
  • Black Student Organization
Summer 2017
Summer 2016
  • Doris Duke Conservation Scholar 
    • Participated in weekly diversity, equity, and inclusion seminars and professional development seminars
    • Collected and analyzed biological data about relationships among and between pathogens and pollinators.
    • Created and presented research poster for annual symposium
  • National Achievement Scholar
  • National AP Scholar