The Class of 2016 will soon be on campus, and -- along with furniture, clothes and photos -- the new students are bringing an array of personal experiences with them.
Some of the members of the undergraduate class include a championship figure skater, a caricature artist and a marine science researcher who is exploring the impact of jellyfish on dead zones.
Lu Sevier, who currently lives in Falls Church, Va., spent two of her high school years in Serbia, where she soon found a unique hobby: singing for a Serbian blues band.
Sevier, who moved to the country because of her mother’s job with the state department, has always enjoyed singing.
“My dad comes from a big family, so we have a lot of dinner parties,” she said. “To get our dessert, we always have to sing.”
The move to Serbia was difficult on Sevier as she had trouble making connections with others at school, she said. The highlight of her days actually came at night when she and her family members would go to local cafes to listen to live music, which is extremely popular in the country.
Soon, bands were inviting Sevier to sing one or two songs with them each night. Through those experiences, she was able to make friends with other musicians, including teenagers from other schools.
The next year, one of Sevier’s friends started a band with her and some others, and they played at cafes, bars and even embassies. Sevier said they played songs by Etta James, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations as well as some from Joss Stone and Gnarls Barkley.
Sevier said her time in Serbia was quite a learning experience and she discovered “how to make something out of nothing” – finding a way to turn what was once a difficult time into a memorable one by having the courage to take the stage.
Now, she is ready for the experiences that her time at the College will bring.
“I’m really, really excited for William & Mary because it’s a place where people like to do out-of-the-ordinary things and they like to work really, really hard,” she said.
Although she is interested in studying biology, history or international relations, music will always remain a part of her life, she said. Sevier is looking forward to getting involved in a cappella and taking some music classes – and maybe even minoring in the subject.
Like Sevier, Sky Jarrett is also coming into the College with some stage experience – under the bright lights of Broadway.
The native of Chappaqua, N.Y., spent about five years of his childhood as a professional actor, appearing not only in Broadway plays but also on television.
Jarrett became interested in acting after seeing his sister in a production of "The Velveteen Rabbit." At 6, he appeared in his first play, a local production of “Oliver.”
“Then I just kind of caught the bug,” he said.
He continued doing local theatre until he was 8, when a director suggested he go to New York City to audition for “A Christmas Carol.”
“I went and auditioned, and I got the part,” said Jarrett. “And that was my first Broadway show.”
After that, he started auditioning for “more big-league stuff,” he said.
He soon landed a part on a soap opera, a part on an animated television show and other roles on Broadway. He performed at venues like the Metropolitan Opera and the American Ballet Theatre, and he became a member of the theatre and television unions.
“It was all a whirlwind to me,” he said. “This was just my hobby. Some kids play soccer. Some kids like to paint. I like to do theatre.”
When he was 13, Jarrett stopped getting called to play younger characters because he was growing taller and his voice had changed. In the winter of 2007-2008, he performed as part of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” That was his last Broadway show.
“Then I decided, if I’m not going to be getting parts anymore, I might as well buckle down with school, and so I started doing a lot of schoolwork, and I got really involved in my high school theatre company,” he said. “I got really involved with my a capella group in high school, and that’s kind of how I transferred all my zany, creative energy from the professional scale to the home scale.”
Jarrett said that his Broadway career was a great experience, and it gave him a sense of professionalism.
“I think it really caused me to mentally mature at a really young age because even though you are 8, 9, 10 years old, you’re expected to act like a professional and not be goofing off,” he said.
Jarrett isn’t sure if he is going to major in theatre at William & Mary, but he knows he can’t imagine his life without being involved in the theatre.
“I’m not sure if I really want to be an actor when I grow up, but I know that I want to be involved with theatre somehow, and that’s one of the reasons I chose William & Mary because I could get a great education with all the liberal arts -- because William & Mary is so known for giving you this broad liberal arts education – while still doing theatre.
“I can get a great education while doing something that I love,” he said.
The new William & Mary freshman said he is “looking forward to everything” at the College, where he won’t be defined by his Broadway experience.
“It’s like a new beginning,” he said. “I’m just excited to go and be myself and see where that gets me.”
To read more tidbits about members of the Class of 2016, visit this page.