I have been using the words "Tribe Pride" for as long as I can remember. As the daughter of two proud William & Mary alumni who met as freshmen in the fall of 1971, William & Mary has always held a special place in my heart. But, it was not until I graduated that I truly understood the meaning of "Tribe Pride." As an avid participant in many William & Mary organizations, it seemed only natural that as an alumna I would find additional ways to continue to contribute to W&M. I have always placed great value in building strong personal relationships, so becoming involved as a representative on the Young Guarde Council seemed like an ideal way to participate in outreach and programming for the youngest generation of alumni.
Since my graduation in 2009, I have been pleased to see the influence of the Young Guarde double, as alumni within their first 10 years of graduation, not just five, are now included. Many changes can take place in the lives of alumni during the first 10 years after graduation, and having more time to be a part of this group can make a big difference in one's participation level with William & Mary.
I know that the meaning of "Tribe Pride" has certainly evolved for me during the past eight years. While I have always prioritized giving my time to W&M through the planning of alumni events, my direct engagement became more limited during law school and as a young staffer on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. While I was not able to give as much financially as I would have liked during those years, I always prioritized giving what I could - especially because I knew I had a short supply of time. As I continued to find my way in the world and became more comfortable professionally, I was able to rejuvenate my engagement with W&M on multiple fronts. I became involved in a leadership capacity as vice chair of the Young Guarde Council, and I joined the William & Mary D.C. Chapter Alumni Board in 2016. One of the greatest benefits of being a part of William & Mary's largest alumni chapter has been my exposure to so many incredible leaders, colleagues and friends in one place.
From participating in career panels for current students on Capitol Hill to learning from powerful, intelligent William & Mary alumnae at this fall's Washington Women's Leadership Panel, the opportunities to become involved with W&M as young alumni are truly boundless. My connection to W&M is best expressed through my participation with young alumni, my local chapter and by donating to the departments and organizations at W&M that helped shape the person I am today. What is most important is to find the right way to give back for you - your own personal brand of "Tribe Pride."
Ashley Poling is a Raleigh, North Carolina native who graduated from William & Mary with a B.A. in English. During her time at W&M, Poling was active as a freshman orientation aide, a member of the undergraduate honor council and as a tour guide. Poling serves as a senior policy counsel to a United States senator in Washington, D.C.