Statesman Scholar Makenzie Cloninger
The ‘dream school’ Makenzie Cloninger envisioned from the time she was a child is what she found at Richard Bland College of William & Mary.
“Richard Bland College has given me a lot of things that I never even knew that I wanted. It has also checked off everything that I dreamed to have in my college experience,” says Cloninger, a member of RBC’s Class of 2019. “Amazing experiences can come from the most unexpected places.”
Financial reasons prompted the Colonial Height native to apply to Richard Bland when she realized a four-year university’s tuition was out of reach. Through scholarships, Cloninger was able to attend RBC and has flourished.
“When I look back on my freshman year at Richard Bland, I see what I have accomplished and how I have changed since high school,” Cloninger reflects. “I remember how I made my first friend at RBC on the second day of classes, and everything just took off from there. In high school, I was incredibly shy. I would only participate in class when I had to, and I would never actively try to be involved or speak my mind. I never expected Richard Bland and the people here to change me so much. I have gone from that shy girl who would hide in the back of the classroom and barely speak, to someone who actively participates in discussions and is a member of multiple clubs.”
The honor student is a tutor at RBC. She is also a Student Ambassador, a position within Admissions that introduces the College to prospective students through campus tours and orientations.
Last year, Cloninger participated in a service-learning spring break trip to historic Hobcaw Barony, South Carolina. She learned about the ecology and history of the area and helped preserve the grounds. “The feeling of accomplishment to better a place of with such great history is something I will hold onto my entire life,” says Cloninger.
Cloninger also participated in a five-week Stream Ecosystems Assessment program in West Virginia that included classroom study and hands-on experiential learning. “The class measured and evaluated streams and explored aquatic life in the Monongahela National Forest,” Cloninger explains. “It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that taught me how to make connections and learn outside the classroom.”
Cloninger says the combination of academics and extra circular programs at RBC have prepared her to attend William & Mary this fall. She plans to double major in environmental science and biology with a minor in marine science and wants to pursue a career in marine life rehabilitation.
“I am grateful to Richard Bland for the many opportunities to grow as a student and adult,” she says. “I wholeheartedly believe that RBC offers experiences that are impossible to replicate anywhere else.”