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Alton Coston, III ’23

Majors: {{,Public Policy}} & {{,Africana Studies}}

A native of Richmond, Virginia, Alton applied to William & Mary knowing he would not be able to afford college, but he was hopeful his high school record would be strong enough to make the grade. Several weeks later he learned he was accepted and that W&M would cover his tuition. “When I enrolled, I felt the onus to give back, and I made a promise to myself that no matter what happened I would simply make this university a better place than I found it.”

Upon his arrival at W&M, Alton went to work reestablishing the university’s African American Male Coalition. He has also served as the Undersecretary of Multicultural Affairs for the Student Assembly, ensuring high-quality programs relating to matters of equity for the W&M student body. At W&M's Day for Admitted Students, Alton spoke to future students and their families about some of these transformative experiences, especially issues concerning his identity, and why they might choose to join him at William & Mary.


As a junior, Alton was awarded the highly prestigious Truman Scholarship by the Harry S. Truman Foundation, an award that provides funding to the next generation of public service leaders. He was also awarded the university’s inaugural John Lewis Social Justice Award which honors a student with the potential to continue the legacy of the civil rights icon. In December 2023, Alton was selected as a Schwarzman Scholar, one of the premier graduate fellowships in the world. The scholarship provides one year of funding for graduate study in global affairs at Schwarzman College on the campus of Tsinghua University in Beijing.

Learn more about Alton