My name is Allison Wu, and I am a member of the Class of 2016 from Newton, Massachusetts. I haven’t been at Williams for very long, but I know I have found a home for the next four years. Before Williams, I did not know how to light a match or hang a bear bag. Now I do, thanks to my WOOLF trip (Williams Outdoor Orientation for Living as First-Years). But beyond these life skills, I have learned about ideas, people, and experiences—about everything from partisan gridlock in Congress to relocating from Kenya to Texas as a younger girl—and have seen the explosion of debates, understanding, and frankly, fun, that emerge when all three mix on a campus in the middle-of-nowhere Massachusetts.
During my first Winter Study, I’ve gone cross-country skiing twice (and fallen more than twice) and had a snowball fight once (with many more to come, I hope!). I’m taking “Social Entrepreneurship: Innovating in the Social Sector,” in which the students are divided into groups and paired with nonprofits that are seeking consulting assistance. My group is working with DataKind, a Brooklyn-based nonprofit that connects data scientists with nonprofits to help them best utilize data.
I’m thrilled with my Winter Study class because I was active in social entrepreneurship, policymaking, and education reform in high school, and chose Williams conscious of the fact that there barely existed an entrepreneurship scene at the school. I was pleasantly surprised to find a budding Entrepreneurs@Williams program eager to expand, especially in the realm of social entrepreneurship.
Recently, I’ve been recruiting students to help tackle the problem of my generation’s “action gap”; young people today spend a lot of time complaining about problems, local and global, or even talking about solving them, but very few of them delve into the issues and grapple with them in an action-oriented manner. Williams is the perfect place to begin to resolve this gap. After all, a liberal arts education equips students with a mindset and critical thinking skills that can be applied to a wide range of situations and challenges.
I don’t yet know what I want to major in, but I loved my economics class in the fall. In “Principles of Microeconomics,” taught by Professor Lucie Schmidt, I wrote a paper on why so many Williams alumni marry other Williams alumni. Explaining the phenomenon in economic terms certainly made it less romantic, but it was a fun paper to write and made the applications of the course even more interesting.
In my free time, I am a coxswain for the women’s crew team. There is a recognizable sense of pride that comes with competing as an Eph, and it builds character. Competing for Williams and its legacy in athletics connects us to something meaningful to ourselves, our teammates, and an entire community that extends far beyond the Purple Valley.
These are the last four years of my life when learning, both inside and outside the classroom, is my only responsibility. Thank you so much for your gift to the Alumni Fund. It’s the Eph community, with alumni like you, who make these four years some of the best of our lives.
Allison Wu ’16