My Williams education may be quantified by cups of Tunnel City coffee consumed, hours clocked in Schow Science Library, and the number of paragraphs that click into place in the early hours of the morning to form a cathartic final term paper. However, the true value of my Williams experience is hard to carve into numbers: the small thrill of laying the first stroke of acrylic on blank canvas in the studio, the comfort of friends collected for electric dinnertime conversations, and the sense of camaraderie found in a professor’s office hours. The value of Williams is measured in terms of the bubbling anticipation that precedes a student performance, the solidarity shared among WOOLF leaders after successful trips, and the intellectual energy that shakes and wakes you. It is measured in the generosity of donors like you for understanding the implicit value of Williams. Your donation extends the opportunity and honor to many
students such as myself to be part of the Eph family. For that, I thank you.
Born in the momentum of the Vietnam War diaspora, I am the child of refugees. My upbringing was spent straddling two languages, two cultures, and two worlds. It was defined by bouts of frustration and moments of doubt. Yet, it was marked by victories small and large, the latter of which might just be: I am the first in my family to attend college. Not only am I grateful to be the first to make that great leap, I am incredibly humbled that an institution as incredible as Williams College provided the firm foundation on which I landed.
At Williams, I have had the pleasure of being immersed in the brilliance of my peers, the compassion of my professors, and the sincerity of staff. In the liberal arts spirit, I have taken a spectrum of courses, ranging from “Principles of Microeconomics” to “Acrylic Painting.” The pleasure found in intellectual exploration has defined much of my time here. Between morning class, afternoon labs, and evening studio time, it is hard to find time to reflect on my Williams experience. However, I take comfort in how similar yet different it is to where I was raised. I know as home the Mojave Desert and grew up in the embrace of sharp mountain ranges defining the Las Vegas Valley. I am now tucked away in a pocket of the Berkshires and framed by the soft curves of Massachusetts mountains. Williams is vastly unlike the Las Vegas Valley, yet parallels home in important ways that bring with it both a sense of security and welcomed challenges. I now understand what it means to have two homes – a home into which you are born and a home that you later seek out in terms of what you value most. My deepest gratitude goes to Williams for providing the latter.
My post-graduate plans are fairly open. The intellectual freedom that comes with a liberal arts education extends to the wide range of employment opportunities afforded to Williams graduates. I know that the value of a Williams education will carry me as far as I allow it. I am confident that regardless of what I ultimately decide for a career, I will enjoy it with the same verve and enthusiasm that has marked much of my time at Williams.
With that said, your generous support of this wonderful, fulfilling education provides a catalyst for students to discover themselves, engage communities, and contribute to a greater good. Within the Purple Valley and beyond, we are greater than the sum of our parts. Thank you.
Austin Nguyen ’15