Judy Che-Castaldo, W&M Class of 2004
Judy Che-Castaldo arrived at William & Mary in 2000. During here time at the College, she worked as a research assistant in the Biology department, participated in the Chinese Student Organization, volunteered at the Muscarelle Museum of Art, and tutored English as a second language to international students.
After graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Biology in 2004, Che-Castaldo received a doctoral degree in ecology from the University of Maryland. Following working as a postdoctoral fellow at the National Socio-Environmental Center, she began her current position as a research scientist at the Lincoln Park Zoo.
In her interview, Che-Castaldo describes how receiving the Gates Millenium Scholarship allowed her to attend William & Mary from North Ridgeville, Ohio. At the College, she created strong relationships in the Biology department with professors like John Swaddle and Laurie Sanderson. She emphasizes that the large number of female faculty in the sciences at William & Mary encouraged her to pursue a STEM career. After graduating, Che-Castaldo studied ecology at the University of Maryland and gained experience researching endangered plant species, leading her to later receive the opportunity to work at the Lincoln Park Zoo. From William & Mary, Che-Castaldo learned to prioritize and focus on “the more important parts” of her life and to “let go” of the rest. Both in her career and at the College, Che-Castaldo stresses the importance of gender and racial diversity in the sciences and how this representation influenced her trajectory. She hopes to see this diversity increase at William & Mary in the future.
William & Mary
Interviewee: Judy Che-Castaldo
Interviewer: Carmen Bolt
Interview Date: May 31st, 2018
Carmen: Okay. My name is Carmen Bolt. I’m the oral historian at William and Mary. It’s currently around 2:30 p.m. on May 31st, 2018. I’m sitting at Lincoln Park Zoo, in Chicago, Illinois with Judy Che-Castaldo, Class of 2004. So, we can start by talking about the date and place of your birth and what years you attended William and Mary.
Judy: Okay, sure. Yeah, I was born in Hong Kong in 1981, and I attended William and Mary between 2000 and 2004.
Carmen: Great. So, can you tell me a little bit more about where and how you were raised and some about your family?
Judy: Sure. Where to start. So, I was born in Hong Kong, so I was raised there until I was 9, and then my family emigrated to the states when – yeah, when I was 9. And so, we moved to Ohio, the Western side of Ohio, and that’s where I spent the rest of my childhood, before college.
Carmen: And did you have any siblings?
Judy: Yeah, I have a sister. She is three years older, and then my brother is 11 years younger.
Carmen: Oh, and what sort of things did your parents do? Why that part of Ohio in particular?
Judy: Yeah, so they – my aunt moved here first. I think she married an American, and then moved to the states, and then she applied for Visas for us to move here, and that was likely because of the – China taking over Hong Kong, in--what year was it? I can’t remember – [laughing]--was that ’97? And so, we were kind of afraid of that, and so, in order for them to give me better opportunities, and my sister of course, at the time, we moved to the states.
And so, my aunt was in North Ridgeville, Ohio, and she had a restaurant there, so that’s where we moved.
Carmen: Okay, great. So, when did you first start thinking about college?
Judy: Oh, my goodness. Probably in high school, right? When people really started taking the Pre-SATs and all the tests, and the counselor is talking to us about opportunities. And I remember one meeting with a counselor where she recommended that I apply for the Gates Millennium Scholar – scholarship program, and so that was, I think, one of its earliest years. It had just started, so I applied for that, and several months later, I found out I’d received it, so I actually was able to expand my options by quite a bit, because most of my family and my cousins, they all went to Ohio State, which is local, and in-state, and so I was able to explore other schools.
Carmen: Great – and how did William and Mary, in particular, get on your radar?
Judy: That’s actually a funny story. So, I went to--what was it called? I call it Nerd Camp [laughs]. It was like a gifted program for kids starting senior year in high school, and so I joined that camp that summer, and there was another participant who, his dream school was William and Mary. And so, he told me about it, and I researched it, and I thought . . .
Carmen: Did you ever get to go on campus before your first day as a freshman?
Judy: Yes. So, that other person, Matt [Meeks? 0:03:42.7 ?], he also ended up going to William and Mary, and he and I took a train trip, like an Amtrak trip to Williamsburg from Ohio to tour the school for a weekend, so, yeah, we did get to see it.
Carmen: And what were your memories of that trip? What did it look like? Smell like? What do you remember?
Judy: The thing I remember most was how empty it was, because it was right after graduation. So, we couldn’t go until we had time in our high school schedule, so, it was, I think probably early June or something, and so everybody had just gotten out. We went to the--what is that – not the UC, but the other center? It used to be the bookstore?
Carmen: Yeah, right. Yes, I know what you’re –
Judy: [laughing] Some things that are – yeah, that other center, and there was a help desk there, and so, we were just walking around, going into all the open buildings that we could, so that was when it was open. And then we talked to the girl who was at the counter, and she was a graduating senior for the next year, so she talked to us, and told us her experience. She just loved it. That was thing I remember the most.
Carmen: Great. And yeah, actually when nobody is around campus, it’s kind of – we love it. It’s unusual.
Judy: Exactly. So, it was, yeah – I think you can definitely tell the historical setting and the building . . . really different from anything we saw in Cleveland, or the other schools I had toured were Case Western, and of course Ohio State, you know. So, those are really different kind of settings.
Carmen: So, what finally, won you over) – if there was a thing?
Judy: Oh, I think it was - I had already decided at that time. So, yeah, the decision was both like having this friend at the time, who really recommended it and just loved it. Another factor was how small the Greek life was on campus, so I thought that was good for me, because I wasn’t interested in that at all.
0:06:04.4 So, yeah. It seemed like a good fit.
Carmen: Great. So, what did you choose to study, and why did you know what you were going to study when you got there?
Judy: Yeah, I did. So, in high school, I took a biology class, and my high school teacher took me aside one afternoon, and was just asking me what I wanted to do. And I said, “Well, maybe I want to be a magazine editor,” which I didn’t even know what that meant, right? [laughing] So, I wasn’t particularly good at writing or anything, but she said, “No, I think you should go into science. You know, you’re showing real interest in biology.” So, she recommended that I follow that. And so, I just took her advice, basically, and William and Mary also had a good biology program, and so, that’s what I majored in, and stuck with it.
Carmen: What was that experience like? Being a biology major at William and Mary?
Judy: It was great. [laughing] I really enjoyed it. I know some people found it a little bit too intense, but I thought it was great. I definitely felt like I was amongst other people who were really invested in their kind of future. And it was challenging, but it was fun and I liked it. The teachers were great. You can – always felt like you can approach them. They were there to help you, so –
Carmen: So, did any professors or advisors or mentors stand out as being particularly impactful during that time?
Judy: For sure. John Swaddle was my research advisor, so, they didn’t have senior thesis, or anything like that, but I joined his lab after taking his – I think it was an evolutionary biology course.
0:08:00.3 I think as a sophomore. And I think he was relatively new at the time, and so, he was looking for people to join his lab. And so, I joined and started doing research with him on animal behavior studies, and then I stayed on to do another study on looking at bluebirds, and impact on golf course habitats on bluebirds. So yeah, he was definitely the major mentor, and he taught me so much. So, I’m really grateful to him. And we keep in touch a little bit.
Carmen: Oh great. Any other mentors or advisors, or – also, I always like to ask about the president at any given time, because William and Mary’s so small, I hear stories of just proximity to the president. So, Tim Sullivan was president while you were there.
Judy: Right. Yes. I definitely saw him at all the events, but what I remember was – was it the vice president?
0:08:59.7 The tall, lanky guy who would ride his bike around? [laughing] Do you know who I’m talking about?
Carmen: I need to find out, though, because that is –
Judy: Yes, he would often just like ride his bike around campus, and just be amongst the students, and so that was what I remember. [laughing]
Carmen: So, what are some of your favorite memories or experiences during your time?
Judy: Oh, my goodness. That’s a good question. Well, I’ll say two – the first was the Yule Log. You know how we do the Yule Log every year. I just thought that was so cool. [laughing] It’s super nerdy, but it’s so cool. I just think that it’s great that people have been doing this for like, so many years, and we’re still doing the same thing. I love that. And I try to go every year to all of the events, and welcoming the students. I forgot what that’s called.
00:10:05 And then the other favorite memory was working in the lab, and just going out into the field. It was my first time – so, as a kid growing up I didn’t do a lot of like outdoorsy things, and then, so, working on these field research projects, that was my first time like being outside for a long time, and like figuring out how to keep yourself safe in the Virginia heat, for example [laughs]. So, things that I didn’t grow up knowing. But it was so fun to work with the lab, and just learn about the outdoors, and appreciate the wild settings, learning about birds. [laughs]
Carmen: And what did you do for fun?
Judy: For fun – oh my gosh. We were so nerdy.
Carmen: I love it.
Judy: Well, at that time, Williamsburg was pretty small, so there wasn’t a lot to do. So, you have to like make your own fun.
0:10:59.8 So, we mostly hung out, you know, watched TV, that kind of thing. Watch movies. There was not even really a movie theater. There was just that one on Dog Street, that they – yup – and they were actually closed for two of the four years I was there, for renovations. [laughs] So, we really had no movie theaters. We had the internet, so that was new-ish at the time. So, I got my first email at the college, and so – yeah. We just hung out, and then one of the things we did, I remember, a friend an I went to – we decided we would camp out at Lake Matoaka. [laughs] And it wasn’t, I think, built up. I think since then, they’ve built a lot of things around it. But at the time, it was just this broken amphitheater. [laughs]
0:12:00.9 Have you seen pictures of it?
Carmen: Not from before its kind of current . . .
Judy: Yeah. It’s so funny. And they would have music contests, stuff like that. But there was this old tower, and my friend and I decided we would like, camp out there for the night, and it was – it was fun. It was silly [laughs].
Carmen: I’ve not heard a story like that.
Judy: So, yeah. But that’s what we did. And actually, it was – it got really cold, so we went home at like 4:00 in the morning.
Carmen: You made it most of the night. So, it counts.
Judy: Yeah, it totally counts.
Carmen: That’s great. Were there any restaurants in particular that you liked to frequent?
Judy: Oh my gosh. What did we do? I think – is Tequila Road still there? No? It’s like this Mexican place. And I remember there was – there wasn’t a lot of ethnic food, but I think there was like one Asian restaurant in that shopping center, with the Food Lion.
0:13:05.2 I don’t know if it’s still there. But we would go there. But mostly, because of my scholarship, I had a meal plan all four years, so I just did that. And I was happy to not have to cook, and not have to spend money on food. So, that was totally good for me.
Carmen: So, looking at the opposite experiences, what were some difficult or challenging experiences you had during your time at William and Mary?
Judy: Let me think. Really trying to think. Well, courses were always hard, right? I mean, we took studying very seriously, but that is typical.
0:14:00.6 I think one of the – it’s not like a sad memory, but I think it was difficult for me, at the time we were applying to graduate schools. So, my senior year, I was looking around for my next steps, and different graduate programs and for that you have to pull together an application package, so, your CV, and at that time I didn’t know what CV stands for, you know, so it was like a big learning process. But then, I had spent a lot of time writing the whatever – the application, and I gave it to John, and he was just – he sat me down, and he said, “This is not acceptable.” [laughing] And I was just devastated, because I – I had worked so hard on it, but, yeah, I’m glad he did it, because I’m sure it was much better afterwards. So, yeah, that was a little sad memory. [laughs]
Carmen: Yeah that’s a grueling process as it is – but he helped you modify it?
Judy: He really did. So, I was able to get accepted to Maryland, so that was good. Really trying to think of other hard things. That sounds pretty lame. I just selectively remember the good parts. [laughing]
Carmen: That is more often than not, the case. Something about human experience.
Carmen: So, were there any pieces, I like to ask, of your identity that you felt were particularly supported while at William and Mary? Or not supported at William and Mary?
Judy: Oh, I see. Yeah, I think I did get more opportunities because I’m Asian, and I think at the time, William and Mary was not super-diverse. I remember joking with my friend Matt. He’s African American.
0:15:59.4 He was in the music program, and we would laugh that if we were sitting together for lunch, they would try to take pictures of us, for the catalog [laughing]. Which I think actually may have happened once. But it wasn’t that we felt not supported, you know? It was, I think they were actually really trying. So, I got a scholarship to study abroad in France, which I think, you know, I don’t know what the criteria were for choosing who received it, but maybe that helped. So, yeah. I didn’t feel like I was not supported, but it was definitely not as diverse as some other places. But at the time, coming from Ohio, which was even less diverse, I didn’t hardly notice.
Carmen: Ah – okay. So, you were explaining a little bit of the experience of being Asian, or an Asian American at William and Mary during the early 2000s.
Judy: Mm-hmm –
Carmen: Was there anything else you want to expand on that? You said it was not a very diverse place at the time, but you were coming from a place that wasn’t a very diverse place.
Judy: Yeah, so I didn’t really notice. And I was paired with another Asian American for our freshman roommates, and so we became friends, and yeah, there were other students, especially in the biology program, so I mean, looking back now, Asians hardly count as minorities in higher education. But, yeah – so – I felt like it was fine. [chuckles]
Carmen: Were there any affinity groups or like organizations that you joined?
Judy: Yeah, right. Yes. I was in the Chinese student organization. So, that was really fun. I think when I first started, it was – it was kind of a smaller organization, and then each year, you know, people would graduate, and people would join.
0:18:01.2 And I think over the years more people participated in it. It was just a really fun, nice group. They were – we would put on shows, I think a couple times a year. One for the Harvest Moon Festival, and maybe one for the New Year, or something like that. That was always fun, you know. There was one student, she was from Northern Virginia, and she actually had some formal training in like dance, in Chinese dance, and so she would – yeah – she just did dances and choreographed the show for us. I think having someone with experience like that made our shows better, for sure. So, that was really fun. And for some reason, I felt like, it was just a different friend group. So, those from the organization, and then the people from, you know, my classes, or from my dorm, so –
Carmen: So, in addition to joining that organization, you mentioned you participated in study abroad.
Judy: Mm-hmm –
Carmen: I had a note when I was doing research that you were a Muscarelle student volunteer, is that correct?
Judy: Oh yeah. Oh, my goodness yes. It wasn’t a long time. I think maybe only for my senior year, but yes. I had always loved art and drawing, and I was, especially in high school, really interested in it. But then, when I did try to take art courses at William and Mary, it was always – ended up being more work than fun. So, that’s where I learned that maybe it wasn’t for me. But I was – I still wanted to be involved, and so I volunteered and helped out at some openings – things like that, so, that was really fun. I forgot about that.
0:19:56.5 Is that still there?
Carmen: Yeah. The Muscarelle is about to undergo a really large renovation.
Judy: Nice. That’s great. I’ll have to go back to see it.
Carmen: Oh, definitely. They’ve been putting on some great exhibitions, which I’m sure they were at time you were there, too.
Judy: They had a Picasso show when we were there, so that was amazing. So, yeah.
Carmen: That’s great. That’s a way to tap into that hobby, I guess, without adding a ton more to your scholarly workload.
Judy: I did try – oh! That reminds me, when I was thinking before the interview, 9/11 happened when I was a student, and that was one of the memories I had, was that it happened in the morning, and that morning I had Art Studio class, and so it was – it’s from like 8:30 to noon, or something like that, so we had no idea. We just did our lesson that day. Yeah. And toward the end of the class I think our professor went to do something and she found out the news, and she came back.
0:21:01.5 And, like we could tell she was so shaken. And we had no idea. And so, she shared with us what happened, and she dismissed the class. I think she actually had a relative that was in New York at the time, so yeah – it was really devastating. I just remember walking around in a daze, you know, after that. Going to the University Center where they had the TVs in the basement. And just going to watch with the other students. Just shocked, with no idea.
Carmen: Yeah. What was the aftermath of that like on campus?
Judy: We were just trying to process it, and a lot of people, obviously, were from Northern Virginia, and so the Pentagon – and we would just be sharing about, you know, do you have family? You know, how is everybody doing? Just touching base with everybody. It was really somber. You know?
Carmen: One of those events no one forgets where they were at that exact moment.
Judy: Exactly. Right. And to be in an art studio, also not finding out for like three hours. That was as weird experience.
Carmen: How did you see other, sort of socio-political, national or international events play out on campus during your time there. I’m thinking: war in Iraq, I mean, even something like the birth of social networking which kind of came at the end of your time there.
Judy: Yeah, so – I think we were less involved with that. But I think I did attend a rally, I think it was, about the war, and obviously we were students, and were anti-war. So, like I remember that being at the biology building, in the auditorium there, and people were showing up with banners, and just –
0:23:02.6 I mean, we were trying to keep up, but I mean it was – it was a small – it’s a local gathering, so I wasn’t – I felt like, inspired to be a part of it, but then I really wasn’t sure what the reach would be, beyond campus. So, and I felt like we were pretty isolated from the local community – the rest of Williamsburg, so I didn’t have sense of how other people felt at the time.
So, yeah, I think because the internet was like, young--that makes me sound so old--I think we were just a little bit less connected to the broader, global views of things. I did take a course called Globalization, and we did learn about the internet, and like the governance of the internet, so we thought a lot about that.
0:24:04.5 So, that was a more scholarly exercise than anything we lived, you know? So, it’s interesting.
Carmen: Mm-hmm. And what was – or was there a reaction to like the rallies--the anti-war rallies--from the administration?
Judy: Oh – I think they were actually supportive. I think the faculty were in attendance. It wasn’t rowdy or anything, so it was organized. I think people knew in advance. So, it wasn’t – yeah, it was definitely peaceful.
Carmen: Oh, it’s always interesting--part of what we try to do with these oral histories is track different moments of activism, or social movement on William and Mary’s campus, because we do hear a lot that was isolated, or kind of a bubble.
Judy: Yeah. That’s interesting to hear.
Carmen: And so hearing about those moments is always really interesting.
Judy: Hmm – yeah. And I definitely feel that it was supported by the school, so –
Carmen: So, let’s discuss what it was like, from your perspective, to be a woman on William and Mary’s campus in the early 2000s. Third wave feminism, more broadly was in full-swing in the United States during that period. Did you see that play out on campus in any way?
Judy: Not really directly. One of the great things, actually, I found about the faculty was that there was a very good representation of women in science, in that department. So, our faculty was, I felt like almost, you know, evenly women and men.
0:25:57.9 So, that was great, and it wasn’t until afterwards that I realized that that’s not the case at a lot of universities. A lot of the faculty tend to be male, and older. So, it was great for me to have those mentors that I could look to. There was Laurie Sanderson. I took a course from her, and Alison – Dr. Alison – I forgot her first name, who was a molecular genetics teacher, and so yeah – yeah – I didn’t realize it at the time, but I think I was able to see that as a potential career, because other people obviously do it.
Carmen: Sure – and so somewhat – well, definitely related to the kind of topic of co-education is the topic of sexual harassment and assault on campuses, and during the time you were there, a little bit before, really this became something, a topic that was kicked up pretty frequently in different news media. What was your level of awareness of this going on at William and Mary?
Judy: Ah – well, I mean, I think, the extent to which I know about that is really in relation to the frat parties.
0:27:04.9 I mean everybody attended the – when they were a freshman. And so, I think we were just so young, and there was a lot of alcohol, and there was a lot of underage kids just going overboard, and I think we were all just trying to figure out, you know, meeting all these new people. So, it wasn’t – and I don’t think we put it into those terms – although, I think there was – there was a rally one time, I think – Take Back the Night?
Carmen: Mm-hmm –
Judy: Yeah, so I do remember that. So, yeah, we must have talked about it. They were trying to raise awareness. And of course, it’s a thing that happened, but it didn’t happen to anybody that I knew, personally.
0:28:01.0 But it’s messy. It’s a gradient, for sure, and so – yeah.
Carmen: It sounds like, even if it wasn’t being discussed specifically, that at the institutional level, there was definitely space for things like Take Back the Night to occur.
Judy: Yeah, definitely. Mm-hmm.
Carmen: So, let’s transition to your trajectory post-William and Mary.
Carmen: You said a little bit about it when you were giving us a glimpse into your application process.
Judy: Yeah [chuckling].
Carmen: So, you received your doctoral degree in Ecology?
Carmen: At the University of Maryland. And then became a post-doc fellow at the National Socio-Environmental Center.
Judy: Synthesis Center.
Carmen: Synthesis Center. And, you are currently employed as a research scientist here at Lincoln Park Zoo. So, do you want to walk--I mean, I kind of did--but will you walk us through your trajectory and how you ended up at this place?
Judy: Sure – it was actually very circuitous, as these things go. But when I graduated from undergrad, I had done animal behavior research, so I was really thinking that I would just continue in that. And at the time, I actually applied to work with primate behavior scientists, and so – not realizing how competitive – I mean, you knew it was competitive, but it’s way more than I even recognized. It’s a competitive field, so I wasn’t able to get into a lot of those programs, but then the one that I did get into was University of Maryland that had a good affiliation with the National Zoo, which was in the D.C. area. And so that was why I ended up going there, and joined their program. But then I joined the lab – David Inoue was my graduate advisor, and his research is actually on plant population dynamics. [laughs]
0:30:00.5 And so, I joined the program, and the summer before I started he had funding to take me out to his – the field station, where he did his research, which was the Rocky Mountain Biological Lab, in Colorado. And so, I spent a summer there. And again, like I said, I hadn’t had a lot of field experience, and the little that I had was in kind of like suburban Virginia. So, this is my first time in the mountains and seeing – it was awesome. I just loved it, immediately, and decided, well, yeah – I’ll stay and do research here. So, switched focus from animal studies to doing plant biology. And then, during my years there, I gained a lot of interest in modeling and data analysis, and saw the value of, you know, using data to help manage species.
0:31:07.1 And so, I decided on my project which was to look at this plant that was being studied, developed for Phytoremediation, which is where if this plant can uptake heavy metals, and it can be used to remediate old mines, and [laughs] – it sounded so cool that I was interested in, if you just to introduce that to a mine site. Is it going to become invasive? How will it affect the native ecosystem? So, that was what I was interested in. And I did my dissertation on that, and I also helped my advisor analyze some of his data sets. So, I just got a range of different skills, through that.
0:31:56.9 And then after that, I was looking for post-docs, and one of my committee members hired me on to work on a project that she had just gotten a grant for, which was to look at species listed under the Endangered Species Act, and how science was being used to manage those species. So, that’s really where the endangered species, where it comes from, and I love that.
And then I applied to the postdoc at SESYNC, and got funded to further develop that research project. And so, through all of that, I now have animal behavior experience, population data experience, endangered species management experience, and then when I was looking for jobs, this opportunity came up, and so my experience was kind of a good set – magically.
0:32:59.5 So, if you had asked me as an undergraduate, you know, I probably would have said, “I would love to work at a zoo. To help manage the species.” But I didn’t really know how to get there, but kind of a little bit coincidental that I was able to – so –
Judy: Yes, exactly. So, it’s really – long story, but I got here eventually.
Carmen: So, what does a normal day look like for you? Outline kind of what it is that you’re doing here.
Judy: Yeah, so I actually have two major aspects: one is helping to analyze data for zoo populations, and so – by that, I mean all the zoos actually manage their animals as a population across the zoos. So, like all of the polar bears in the North American zoos are actually considered a population, because they can move them around, when they need to.
0:34:01.6 And so there’s a group of scientists here at Lincoln Park Zoo that help to analyze data and inform that kind of management of the animals. And so, I helped to do that.
And then the other aspect is just continuing my own research, which is in population dynamics, and just writing papers. So, on the one side, I work with managers in population programs, and on the other side, I’m mostly just looking at data and writing papers.
Carmen: I did see an extensive list of papers that you have published.
Judy: Yes. And so, the two definitely process while I just have a recent one submitted, I think it’s close – where I’m evaluating what is the role of zoos, actually, in conserving listed species.
0:35:00.6 So, they have projects here and there. You have examples that are individuals, but then across the board, like how much are we actually doing? We summarize that, and hopefully that’ll come out soon.
Carmen: It’s a process, but it’s very interesting.
Judy: Yes. So – great.
Carmen: So, how have you seen then, your William and Mary experience prepare you or shape your trajectory, afterwards?
Judy: Oh man. Easy question. I think just the focus. I think we really learned to focus, and actually, one of the things that I personally learned from my experience was also to kind of let go of certain things. So, as a high school student, I was super intense. I’m going to get the straight As, and then I went to William and Mary, and realized like everybody is like that here.
0:36:01.3 You know? And there are just some things that you have to let go, and just enjoy yourself, and figure out which are the important parts that you do need to focus on, and ones that maybe it’s not so important. And so, I think that kind of prioritization definitely helps in life. So, yeah. I chilled out a little bit, in college.
Carmen: So, in what ways, if any, have you remained involved with William and Mary, or have you returned since you graduated?
Judy: Yeah – not a lot of involvement. So, I’ll be helping out with William and Mary weekend, in Chicago, this weekend. And then, we’ve definitely been back a few times, because when I was in Maryland, we would go back to visit friends, or go to the beach in North Carolina and South – so, it’s been a few times, but it’s been a couple years.
0:37:01.2 And every time we stop, it’s changed. So, it’s fun to see all the changes.
Carmen: What kind of changes have you seen over time?
Judy: Yeah – mostly structural, because when we go back, it’s just – we’re stopping in for the day. So, the new buildings by Lake Matoaka, and the new University Center, and that new building next to the University Center?
Carmen: Oh, the Cohen Career Center?
Judy: Yeah, so that was new. And oh, the first big one was the dorm that they built on Barksdale Field. Yeah, so, it’s not new at all. No, but that was built since I left, and I remember seeing that for the first time. That’s cool. It makes sense. You need more dorm space.
Carmen: And there are two movie theaters now – in addition to Kimball
Judy: Oh man –
Carmen: I know – can you imagine?
Judy: I can’t. I hear there’s also a bowling alley, and actual things, you know –
Carmen: Some still – you know, in Williamsburg might argue with you, but yeah, it’s bigger than when you were there.
Judy: That’s probably true. I do remember going to do the historical Williamsburg thing, you know, for fun, about what we’d do for fun. And that was so silly. We went to one of the taverns, and they had bar wenches. [laughing] It’s so goofy. That’s what we did for fun.
Carmen: And millions continue to go every summer.
Judy: Yes. Do they still have that?
Carmen: Oh yes. It sounds like when you went to visit William and Mary, you came right between the window of students leaving and tourists coming.
Judy: mm-hmm – exactly.
Carmen: Has a little sweet spot we’ve been in the last couple weeks as well. But yeah. People still come by the thousands and thousands.
Judy: Gosh, that’s so amazing. And the Cheese Shop, of course. That’s still there, right?
Carmen: Yes, it is.
Judy: We definitely went and had our fair share.
Carmen: So, you just noted a couple of changes you have seen – structural, or the footprint of William and Mary. Are there any changes you’d like to see happen to William and Mary?
Judy: Actually, I think one of the best things about it is that it’s got such a long history in a lot of things that they do. And so, for me, personally, I just love it, like I said, like the Yule Log, and those kinds of historical traditions. I just hope they keep those. You know, modernized in some kind of way, and make it more popular, but –
Carmen: Speaking of changes, William and Mary just elected its first female president.
Judy: Ohh! That’s exciting. Who is it?
Carmen: Her name is Katherine Rowe.
Judy: Okay, cool. Nice.
Carmen: She will be the next president after Taylor Reveley leaves this year.
Judy: That’s awesome.
Carmen: While things like the Yule Log still remain, this is a pretty significant change –
Judy: That’s really cool. Yeah. Definitely. That will be awesome.
Carmen: So, is there anything people should know about William and Mary that might be helpful for them to know, to understand it better, or from your experience, even if it’s negative or difficult? Something that might be helpful, or productive for people to know about the place as an institution?
Judy: Hmm – I’m not sure. In the broad scope, I’m not sure. Nothing more specific than what they already advertise.
Carmen: Alright. Considering we’re about to kick off, truly like this month, really, celebration for our 100th year of coeducation at William and Mary, can you tell me what you believe to be the value and contribution of women?
Judy: Oh wow!
Carmen: Big question.
Judy: That sure is. I mean, it’s something we think about all the time. I don’t know – such a hard question. I feel like it’s something that we’re struggling with. I’m a mom, and so, working – the work-life balance is always something we talk about. And I’m fortunate that my husband definitely does an equal share of the child rearing. But it’s not the case all the time. So, I don’t know if you’d count it as a contribution, but just the fact that we do it. We carry on.
Carmen: That may be the biggest contribution of all –
Judy: [laughing] So, yeah . . .
Carmen: You could even narrow it down though, to a college campus.
Judy: Hmm – well, diversity in general. I feel like – when I was there, it was pretty equal –males and females--wasn’t it? I think so. I really didn’t feel discriminated against...so yeah...I don’t know...
Carmen: That’s okay.
Judy: Not a very satisfying . . .
Carmen: You mentioned that it wasn’t an incredibly diverse place to be while you were there. And I think the diversity among students, at least, has increased...
Judy: Okay. That’s good.
Carmen: ...an amount--a significant amount. But I think they’re still waiting to see similar changes in faculty –
Judy: faculty –
Carmen: yeah, faculty and even higher up in the administration.
Judy: Yeah, for sure. And that’s the case, I feel like everywhere. Partially, because I went to – on to an institution like University of Maryland, which is a much larger institution, with its own problems. I just feel like they’re doing as good a job as they can. It’s not just a singular problem. Yeah, we’re trying to change that. And I do feel that responsibility to well, being a woman in science. I recently got my first NSF grant, and I was able to hire staff under the grant. And so, I worked really hard to make sure I hire diverse people, and just give people opportunities, and thankfully, I have really qualified and really excellent people.
0:43:59.5 So, I’m happy to be able to do that for the next, upcoming scientists.
Carmen: That’s great. So, you have just run through my questions. I always like to open it up at the end to you. If there’s anything I haven’t asked you that you thought I would ask you, or you would like to talk about at this time. This is the time.
Judy: Okay – oh, you know, I just remembered one thing. The other kind of extracurricular thing I did – I volunteered at the – was it the language center – I forgot what the name of it was. But basically, I helped tutor English as a Second Language. And there were graduate students, in probably, I think, the math or science departments, and they were Chinese students. So, I would help them. And I did that for a couple of years. And I wonder if their experience is a lot different.
0:45:00.5 Because I did grow up in the states, and I don’t sound different. I’m American, mostly. But for them, I wonder if it would have been a really different experience, in Williamsburg, where you probably couldn’t get to an ethnic grocery store. [laughing] Do they have that now? Maybe?
Carmen: Slight, slight progress in that direction, maybe.
Judy: So, yeah. And so, I really enjoyed being able to do that, but I did feel like, a little bit that, that it would have been hard, being in Williamsburg, and just having moved out of the country that you’re from. So, yeah. In a lot of ways, these questions make me realize how American, really, I am. [laughing]
Carmen: That’s an excellent point. And when I think of individuals to interview and how they get a really good range of individuals who’ve come through William and Mary, it’s important not to forget individuals who have actually, quite literally, come to America to participate in this – the degree program that they’re in, and how that shaped their experience.
Judy: Yeah, do you ever talk with the graduate students, who just went to William and Mary for graduate schooling?
Carmen: Yes, I do, and yes, that would be a particularly good demographic to look at, because, I interview undergraduates, grad students, staff persons, faculty, and so yeah. This is just kind of another area, I think – it would be remiss to miss those stories.
Judy: I’m sure. Yeah, that would be interesting.
Carmen: Yeah very. We’ll have to follow up on that.
Judy: Yeah, definitely.
Carmen: Well, is there anything else? Any other things you want to share, before we wrap the interview up?
Judy: I think that’s it.
Carmen: Well, thank you so much for participating, and taking time out of your day.
[End of recording]
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