William & Mary committed to equity and to creating a university community where all students can excel. The Preparing for Life as a University Student (PLUS) program ensures that rising first-year students have the skills and resources needed to flourish at the university.
Each summer, the Center for Student Diversity brings between 35 and 40 first-year students to campus to participate in the PLUS program. The students are introduced to campus resources, participate in mock classes and learn from current William & Mary students and professors. The program also allows students to meet each other and begin to build their network of peers before the semester starts. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the program took place online last summer.
This network extends past freshman year, as PLUS students are invited back to apply as counselors. These upperclassmen mentor incoming freshmen and provide valuable insights on the university.
The impact of this program, funded in part by the Parents Fund for William & Mary, continues throughout a student’s time at William & Mary and far beyond.
“It was one week that ended up changing the course of my college experience and I am forever grateful,” said Ekua Biney ’22, reflecting on her time in the PLUS program. “I came into my freshman year with friends and upperclassmen who were willing to mentor and guide me —none of which would have been possible without the foundation built at PLUS and I hope this program continues to help more incoming freshmen gain a sense of community and belonging.”
The PLUS program is one way the William & Mary community encourages belonging by providing students with resources and encouraging connections that will foster flourishing.
Among the program’s strongest advocates are Philip Leibow P’20 and Lisa Leibow P’20, who established the Leibow Family Endowment in 2019 to support it.
“We chose to support William & Mary’s PLUS program because it sets the stage for academic and campus life success for underserved and underrepresented undergraduate students,” the Leibows say in a joint statement. “We hope our endowment will foster inclusion, collaboration and relationship building within the William & Mary campus community for generations to come. Exposing students to a broad range of perspectives encourages innovative problem solving and inclusive communities that will extend the ‘Who comes here, belongs here,’ way of life beyond a Tribe member’s time on campus and into the world for years to come.”
“I came into my freshman year with friends and upperclassmen who were willing to mentor and guide me — none of which would have been possible without the foundation built at PLUS.”
— Ekua Biney ’22