This year, my suite bought a George Foreman grill. It wasn’t a purchase that we initially gave much thought or significance – the initial conversation was somewhere along the lines of the stereotypical, “Dude, you know what would be awesome? If we got a grilled cheese maker.” But I think we quickly realized a greater meaning. This George Foreman was more than just a vehicle for a delicious sandwich made of Stop & Shop cheese and leftover dining hall bread. It was the first investment in our shared common room. It was a commitment to making our common room a place where we want to need a grilled cheese. In other words, a place for watching scary movies, late night out-of-key jam sessions and poorly played poker.
The second thing we found after buying our George Foreman is that one investment gave way to another. Here we had this wonderful machine, capable of delivering a delicious vessel of melted cheese and bread at a moment’s notice, but we had nowhere to sit in the sparsely decorated Gladden common room. So we lugged back a massive couch from the Tag Sale that remains the most comfortable couch I’ve ever sat on. Once we had this couch, we began to notice the sparseness of the walls. Thankfully, the poster sale supplied us with all the A$AP Rocky and Wu Tang Clan posters we needed to complete our decoration. From the mini fridge generously donated by our former JA, to the old records adorning our walls, the investments continued, until we had created a spot that is honestly one of my favorites on campus.
I was reminded again of the benefits of giving a little extra effort during this last Winter Study. One of my good friends on campus took a web development class. The effort he put into this class was extremely impressive, especially considering all the temptations that Winter Study presents to not focus on schoolwork. What most demonstrated his impressive effort was when it came time for the final project, and he took on the initiative of creating a fully functional website, going beyond what was expected. I remember being so impressed because this extra effort wasn’t going to boost his GPA or be something to put on his resume. It was just for the love of learning, and the pride in creating something that you know is your best effort. Honestly, it was a reminder to myself because as much as I admire the effort of my friend, I’d be lying if I said that I successfully emulate that behavior at all times. This Winter Study, the importance of surrounding myself with passionate, motivated people was made clear. I think we’re all lucky that there are so many people like that on this campus.
There are a couple of ideas that I hope you can take away from this. First, and perhaps most importantly, stop by Gladden B1 for a grilled cheese. But I hope this also suggests some ideas about the benefits in investing a little extra effort in all aspects of your life at Williams. Whether it is as simple as making your common room a place where you want to hang out, or making Winter Study a time to invest in a project you might not otherwise have time for, I think a lot of times you’ll find that you obtain benefits that are worth much more than the additional efforts you put in. Finally, I learned this Winter Study that the best way to commit to giving a little extra effort is to surround yourself with people who do just that. And not just academically. It can be a friend who always does one extra sprint at practice, a friend who’s committed to doing whatever it takes to help someone in need or maybe just a friend who wants to buy a George Foreman and is willing to lug a really heavy couch halfway across campus. We’re fortunate to be literally surrounded by people like this on campus, and fortunate to have a wonderful culture of looking to each other for
mentorship, guidance and inspiration.
Matt McNaughton ’16 is from State College, Penn. He lives in Gladden.