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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. Through that group, he launched monthly barber shop meetings in which barbers visited campus to give haircuts, providing a dedicated space for young multicultural men to gather and express vulnerability as a virtue of strength. 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 which 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. “I am passionate about the work that lies ahead,” he says. “When I think about the communities that yearned for cultivation here at this institution, about making a true difference on a sizeable scale in my community, nation, and world, that’s what gets me up in the morning and keeps me awake at night.”

Learn more about Alton