Despite being an outstanding student at William & Mary, Devin Braun believes that standing out may not always be the best way to accomplish goals.
Braun, who has been selected as the student commencement speaker for 2013, will be graduating William & Mary for a second time this year. A native of Chatham, Va., he graduated last May with a Bachelor of Arts in government and environmental policy with an honors thesis on the ideological consequences of the decline in trust in government. Braun stayed at the College for his graduate studies, pursuing a master’s in public policy with a focus on federal transportation and energy policy.
Being a graduate student has provided Braun with a different perspective on entering the professional world than he had as an undergraduate, a perspective he hopes to share with the William & Mary community in his commencement remarks.
“What I’ve realized is that there are a lot of people who really make a positive difference in the world around them without anyone really necessarily knowing who they are. It is possible to be a positive agent for change without being famous,” Braun said.
His experiences as a graduate student helped form this modest worldview.
“It came to me especially in grad school because often we’re told that it’s all about social networking and putting yourself out there,” Braun said acknowledging the necessity of those activities.
One of Braun’s goals in his address is to encourage his fellow graduates to keep the important things in life in perspective.
“If you’re only going to do the things that are going to get you famous, then you’re going to miss a lot of opportunities to do actually good things in your immediate environment,” he said.
Throughout his time at William & Mary, Braun has kept his finger on the student body’s pulse. He lived on campus all four years of his undergraduate career, serving as a resident assistant, performing in student theatre groups and working as opinions editor for The Flat Hat.
The activity dearest to his heart, however, is his role as a student DJ for WCWM, the College’s radio station. He has worked with WCWM throughout both his undergraduate and graduate studies, during which time he has earned a reputation among his listeners as “the best face in radio.” Braun’s experiences at WCWM have furthered his appreciation for quietly making a difference.
“Radio is interesting because it is all about anonymity at its core. You don’t walk out of the radio station and have people point and say ‘Hey, there’s that guy who played that horrible music on the air!’” Braun explained. “In a way, I find radio to be a good way to express oneself under the shroud of anonymity.”
Now that he is living off-campus and wrapping up his graduate studies, Braun has an even greater appreciation for the College.
“Being in a professional degree program made me appreciate the relatively rare opportunities students get on campus here both academically and outside the class,” he said.
When the Class of 2013 finally says goodbye to William & Mary, Braun hopes they will keep his message in mind.
“We don’t need to have notoriety to accomplish the noble things that we want to accomplish,” he said.