Graduates Stay Close to Home

Sarah Hennis, Online Newspaper Editor

Mary Wilson Grist:
Graduate Mary Wilson Grist grew up in Lexington and began attending Washington & Lee University in the fall. Location was a downside to Grist at first, but she does not regret staying close to home.
“At first, location was a con. I often thought I would be taking a “cop out” by staying in Lexington,” said Grist. “However I now see location as a major pro. By participating with the Outing Club, I have been able to explore different parts of the county. Plus, who could complain about four more years of Blue Ridge Parkway sunsets?”
Being close to home has both advantages and disadvantages when it comes to daily life.
“There are countless benefits of W&L that I wasn’t able to take advantage of as a high school student,” said Grist. “For example, W&L’s unique four week Spring Term is allowing me to study geology at Mt. St. Helen’s in Washington state.”

Mallory Keeley:
Highschool graduate Mallory Keeley has lived in Lexington her entire life, but does not regret her decision to stay another four years by attending W&L.
“I’m really glad I chose W&L because I get to live in a town surrounded by people I love and grew up with, as well as see Lexington from a different angle through new people I meet on campus,” said Keely.
Despite Keely’s love for her new home, there were some difficulties during the decision process.
“My biggest challenge was whether or not I wanted to stay close to home. I thought staying in Lexington would be a con at first, but staying is one of the best decisions I could’ve made,” said Keely. “I love the balance of being able to walk into town to visit family, childhood friends etc. at my own leisure, but then being able to walk on campus and feel like I’m entering a whole new city. Although I thought it would be the biggest con, it’s been one of the biggest pros.”

Elizabeth Grist:
Elizabeth Grist graduated at the top of her class in RCHS and began attending W&L in the fall. Grist does not have regrets about her college decisions, but the closeness to home made her choice difficult.
“Going to college in my hometown had a big impact on my college decision. I originally wanted to get away from Lexington for college,” said Grist. “However, the only downside that I could find to W&L when considering my options for college was that it was in my hometown, and all of the great attributes of W&L by far outweighed this factor.”
Grist finds herself seeing similar aspects of Lexington, but constantly sees differences as well.
“Going to college in my hometown feels a lot different than I thought it would. Since I live on campus, I rarely have a need to leave campus in my day-to-day life. As a result, I find myself entering a “W&L bubble,” an experience I never encountered growing up in Lexington,” said Grist. “Even though I am still in Lexington, I encounter new friends and professors, live in a different dorm room, eat in a different cafeteria…I experience all of the same “news” and “differents” that my peers are experiencing, even though I am still in my hometown.”

Lexie Paxton:
For RCHS graduate Lexie Paxton, who also grew up in Lexington, W&L was a clear choice.
“During my decision process, location was a pro for sure. I couldn’t afford to go far away and W&L was my best option when it came to financial aid,” said Paxton. “Plus, home sickness is at a minimum.”
Paxton had difficulty adjusting to her new home at first, but in the grand scheme of things is happy with her choice.
“The first semester was tricky If I’m being honest,” said Paxton. “It took time adjusting, planning my own schedule, and doing schoolwork while trying to meet new people. But overall, W&L is the perfect fit for me. The Lexington community is great and I feel fortunate to be a part of it for the years to come.”