10 Things to Do Around Williamsburg

Thinking of coming to W&M, or already here on campus? Here are just a few of the things our MPP students love to do around the area on their days off.

The Williamsburg Farmers Market


The farmers market is teeming with people picking up local produce, meats, and sweets. Photo by Lauren Pudvah (MPP)

The Williamsburg Farmers Market is an awesome way to get fresh, local food and support Virginia businesses. The market is held in Merchant Square every Saturday morning (rain or shine) from 8 am to noon. With 40 vendors, live music, and an easy walk from main campus make sure to catch this bustling market! Don’t forget to check out the center booth where you can pick up a free punch card and be entered to win a free gift basket. Most vendors accept VISA, MasterCard, and even W&M Express.

Busch Gardens Williamsburg


The entrance to Busch Gardens Williamsburg with the 210-foot drop of Apollo’s Chariot Hypercoaster looming in the background. This coaster reaches speeds up to 73 mph! Photo by Lauren Pudvah (MPP)

If you love thrills, treats, and good company, then Busch Gardens is worth checking out. The best part about the park is their rotation of events throughout the year. In the Spring and early summer sample foods from around the world at their Food & Wine Festival. As the summer nights heat up, catch summer concerts in the park with free tickets to pass holders offered. In the fall swing by for their craft beer festival and come to the park at night for some Halloween haunts sure to make you scream! In the late fall and early winter, the park becomes home to Christmas Town a magical display of millions of Christmas lights. Whatever you’re into, Busch Gardens is worth a visit for sure!
The park has a seasons pass for students that stay in the area year-round. Students also have the option of purchasing discounted tickets exclusively for W&M students on Busch Gardens Day, a once a year event sponsored by the Student Assembly and Student Affairs at the college.

Second Sundays Art and Music Festival

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On the second Sunday of every month March to December, the streets of Colonial Williamsburg showcase tons of different vendors selling unique art, jewelry, and home goods. If you’re into petting dogs, which we know you are, Second Sundays is a great place to listen to live music, buy some cool things, and smile at all the cute dogs you see.

Virginia Beer Company


Virginia Beer Company is a great place to grab a drink with friends. The brewery has an outdoor area equipt with cornhole and firepits, and inside you can find tons of different board games to play. Photo by Lauren Pudvah (MPP)

For our 21+ students, Virginia Beer Company is a new brewery that opened up a few miles from main campus that hosts tons of different food trucks and live weekly events. The brewery has an industrial type feel and was started by 3 W&M graduates. Their beers are delicious, and their events are always a good time. Some nights they even offer W&M student discounts so don’t forget your student ID!

York River State Park


Photo by Lauren Pudvah (MPP)

York River State Park is a beautiful state park in Williamsburg situated on the York River. A short drive away from main campus, you can find over 30 miles of great hiking, biking, and horse trails, as well as beach-front fossil beds. Check it out and enjoy all this unique estuarine park has to offer 🙂

Williamsburg Winery


Beautiful day for a little rosé at the Williamsburg Winery tasting room and wine bar in Merchants Square. Photo by Lauren Pudvah (MPP)

Another local favorite is the Williamsburg Winery. The winery is located on a 300-acre farm and the whole place has an awesome vibe. Make sure to check out Sunday’s brunch menu at the onsite Tavern for some delicious food and cocktails. Tours and tastings are given daily and offer a unique opportunity to see how they make their wine.

If you can’t make the drive to the winery, walk over to their new tasting room and wine bar in CW’s Merchants Square. Grab a glass, bottle, or wine flight and enjoy some local flavor!

Kimball Theatre


The Kimball Theatre is a short walk from campus and next to great shops and restaurants! Photo by Lauren Pudvah (MPP)

Kimball Theatre is centrally in downtown Merchant Square and is a short walk from main campus. The theater first opened in 1933 and has a main stage for both live productions and a movie screen. ClickitTicket has listed the Kimball as one of the best small stage theaters in America.

This year’s W&M Global Film Festival was hosted here and students could view award-winning movies from around the world. The historic feel and variety of show options make it a place worth checking out during your free time!

Jamestown Rediscovery

Contrary to popular belief, the Jamestown Settlement and Jamestown Rediscovery are not one in the same. While they both cover the history of America’s first permanent English colony, the experiences at each establishment are a little different.

If you’re looking for a museum experience with some historical reenactments on the side, spend a day at the Jamestown Settlement where the entrance is free to residents of Williamsburg. Here you can tour a recreation of the Powhatan Indian Village, the James Fort, and even board recreations of the Susan Constant, Godspeed, and the Discovery which set sail in 1606 headed for Virginia.


A Jamestown archeologist shows a group of visitors the active dig site. Photo by Lauren Pudvah (MPP)

If an active historical archeological dig site if more your style, head a little further up the road to Jamestown Rediscovery where you can watch and interact with staff archeologists and historians uncovering the history of Jamestown. The site is located right on the James River and the Dale House is a wonderful place to grab lunch with great riverfront views.


Beautiful sunset at Historic Jamestown. Image captured on the Dale House Patio. Photo by Lauren Pudvah (MPP)

Lake Matoaka

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A favorite spot on campus is Lake Matoaka. The area has over 10 miles of hiking trails through the largest remaining contiguous forest in the city, and a waterfront amphitheater that hosts concerts and events. Students can rent canoes and kayaks at an onsite boathouse or stargaze at night.

Colonial Williamsburg


Spring gardens in Colonial Williamsburg. Photo by Lauren Pudvah (MPP)

Colonial Williamsburg is a short walk from main campus and a great place for students to exercise, lounge, or grab a bite to eat at one of their historic taverns. CW offers a uniquely immersive experience into early colonial American history with through daily tours, reenactments, and special events. In the early spring, CW welcomes baby lambs and beautiful flower garden displays. In the winter enjoy ice skating, colonial holiday decorations, and don’t miss the Grand Illumination, a spectacular firework display sure to light up the night sky.  Don’t forget to find the cider stand and purchase an official CW mug for a year of discounted refills.

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Check out the Official Tourism & Visitors Guide of Williamsburg for upcoming events and more things to do in the area.

What are your favorite things to do around campus? Please feel free to let us know in the comments below 🙂

Don’t forget to follow W&M MPP on Facebook and LinkedIn!


W&M’s Schroeder Center for Health Policy celebrates its 15th anniversary


Dr. Jennifer Mellor, Director of the W&M Schroeder Center for Health Policy, introduces the alumni panel to kick off the discussion (Photo: Lauren Pudvah, MPP)

This month, the Schroeder Center for Health Policy celebrated its 15th anniversary by bringing together past and present W&M MPPs. The highlight of the event may have been an alumni panel that spoke to how different career paths were enriched by skills learned in the MPP program. As our graduating students seek employment and our first-year students seek internship placements, our alumni wisdom couldn’t have been more pertinent.

The panel discussion was titled “W&M Shapes Health Policy” and featured Ashley Gray* (MPP ’14), Massey Whorley* (MPP ’08), Joanna Young* (MPP ’07), Michael Cassidy* (MPP ’99), and Carol Blackford* (MPP ’95). The alumni highlighted skills they obtained from the W&M MPP program that have made them successful in their careers across different policy sectors.

The MPP program’s strong economic and quantitative focus, encouragement of effective and thoughtful communication, law class requirements, and solid foundation classes were just a few things they said give them a leg up in their careers. This panel was a great way to get our current MPP students thinking about what strengths to highlight as they are on the job or internship search!


More information on our featured alumni:

* Ashley Gray, ’14, Director of State Affairs, Medicaid, BlueCross BlueShield Association; Since graduation, Ashley has had 4 senior level positions in the Government, Non-Profits, NGOs, and a Trade Association. She is a top flyer who is frequently found on the 30 under 30 or 40 on 40 lists.

* Massey Whorley, ’08, Senior Policy Advisor, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam; In the 10 years since graduating Massey has been senior staff at JLARC, TCI and the VA state Governor’s Office for Terry McAuliffe and now Ralph Northam.

* Joanna Young, ’07 Senior Director, Avalere Health; Joanna is has made her career in DC working in for-profit and not-for-profits firms focused on data analytics.

* Michael Cassidy, ’99, Founder, President and CEO, Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis; TCI has grown from a small startup into the state’s leading independent voice on state fiscal and economic policy issues.

* Carol Blackford, ’95, Director of Hospital and Ambulatory Policy Group, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services; Carol is an SES level senior manager with a 20+ year career in federal service.


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Thank you to the students, faculty, and alumni who made the event such a success! 

Stay tuned for more MPP events. In the meantime, don’t forget to follow W&M MPP on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Meet Our Students: Sam Holliday

In the Master of Public Policy program at William & Mary, we take great pride in our students. Each person in the program brings something special to the table and we are thrilled to shine the spotlight on them whenever we get the chance. This is Sam Holliday (’18). Sam is a second year BA/MPP in the Public Policy Analysis track and answered a few questions for us recently.

Sam Holliday

Where are you from?

I am from Washington, DC; my license plates say “Taxation Without Representation” and everything!

What brought you to the William & Mary Master of Public Policy Program?

I am part of the Accelerated Masters of Public Policy Program, in which the final year of my bachelors and the first year of my masters were combined. This provided me with the fantastic opportunity to pursue an advanced degree while remaining at William & Mary in lovely Williamsburg.

What is your favorite thing to do on campus?

I love attending musical and theatrical performances and Tribe athletic events. This campus is filled with such wonderfully talented individuals and surrounded by a vibrant community.

Favorite thing about the program?

My favorite part of the MPP Program is the people. The small cohort sizes and ample opportunities to grow closer as a group have helped make my classmates close friends that I will cherish for life.

What advice do you have for prospective graduate students who may be on the fence about applying to the W&M MPP program?

The William & Mary MPP program does a fantastic job preparing you for a career in public policy. Having had such a variety of academic experiences – everything from econometrics to election law – I feel prepared to tackle policy issues from many angles.

Where do you want to go from here?

Over my professional and academic career, I have developed a preference for Congressional policymaking and politics. I plan to work on Capitol Hill moving forward.

What are your hobbies?

My hobbies include photography, trying to improve my golf game, cooking with friends and family, and occasionally binge-watching great shows on Netflix.

Describe yourself in three words.

Affable, earnest, and scholarly.

Favorite book?

So difficult to choose! I’d have to say The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway – rarely have I encountered a novel which makes such wonderfully precise and sparing use of the English language that is yet so captivating.

If you could receive a message from future-you, what would you want it to say?

Your work has helped beyond the people you can see.

If you could meet one person in the world, living or dead, who would it be and why?

George Washington, to discuss what drove the man to extraordinarily yield his military power back to the people – like the ancient Cincinnatus – following the Revolution, and to share that the city he built and the government he led carry on more than two centuries later.

Anything else you would like us to know?

I’m also an ardent lover of classic films (if you couldn’t tell by my Movie Night* selections: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and Rear Window).

What has been your favorite class so far and why? 

My favorite course has been Professor Wilkerson’s seminar on National Security; the wealth of knowledge he brings to class and shares freely with his students is incredible.

Who is your favorite professor/researcher you’ve worked with and why?

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed both courses I’ve had with Professor Gilmour – he’s both knowledgeable and funny, leading to wonderful classes.


Thanks for sharing Sam! *Sam featured a few of his favorite films during our program’s movie nights hosted by the MPP Graduate Policy Association.


Stay tuned for more student spotlights. In the meantime, don’t forget to follow W&M MPP on Facebook and LinkedIn!

2018 Admitted Students Day

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Some of this year’s admitted students spent the day hearing from current W&M MPP students and professors all about what the program has to offer. Students enjoyed a delicious lunch from The Cheese Shop, a local favorite, and toured our beautifully renovated Tyler Hall, as well as the rest of our historic campus.

Thank you to the students, faculty, and admitted students who came and made the day such a success. We hope to see you all in the fall!


Stay tuned for more MPP events. In the meantime, don’t forget to follow W&M MPP on Facebook and LinkedIn.

A Reflection on the 2018 Graduate Research Symposium by Kara Newman (MPP ’18)

Earlier this month, Kara Newman (MPP ’18) received an Excellence in Scholarship award for her paper, “Aid Shocks and Immigration to the United States” at the 2018 Graduate Research Symposium. She was kind enough to offer a few thoughts about her own research and about how participating in the symposium enriched her understanding of policy issues:

Kara with her award

“I recently had the opportunity to present my research, “Aid Shocks and Immigration to the United States,” at William & Mary’s Graduate Research Symposium. My experience at the symposium highlights how interdisciplinary it is: on Friday, I listened to my classmate Laura Mallison present on intersectionality in critical legal studies, learned about the concept of “relational mobility,” and examined a portrait of a member of a powerful colonial Virginia family. On Saturday, I was challenged to rethink the way terrorists select their targets before presenting my own research.

Conducting this research was a neat way to put concepts from my quantitative classes to work. While thinking about a potential research topic, I had been thinking a lot about the complex relationship between aid and immigration. Much has been written about it, and there is nothing near a consensus on the topic—the relationship depends on more apparent factors like immigration policy and diplomatic relations, but also on the exact type of foreign aid a country is receiving and the country’s wealth. While brainstorming, I remembered a discussion about aid shocks (severe negative changes in aid from one time period to the next) from Professor Tierney’s class, leading me to an epiphany: instead of looking at foreign aid provision, I could best contribute to this literature by focusing on severe reductions in foreign aid.

I hypothesized that severe reductions in the amount of aid that a country receives from one time period to the next would increase immigration, both to the United States and in general (measured with the net migration rate). My initial findings were not statistically significant (it happens!) and actually showed the opposite effect of what I had expected. There is more to be done with this research, including looking at a more detailed dataset that shows immigration flows between 30 selected countries and coding additional control variables. That said, I have really enjoyed using the tools from cross-section econometrics to explore a relationship that is important to understand.”

Good luck as you continue to explore the study, Kara!

In the Public Policy Program, we pride ourselves on facilitating opportunities for students to study and research the policy issues that are important to them and to the future of the field. Beyond the main curriculum, we encourage students to conduct independent studies and to foster their own policy interests in a supportive environment. There are even funding opportunities to support student research and conference attendance!

Do you have questions about the MPP program here at William & Mary? Feel free to visit our website to learn more.

A Scientist Walks Into a Bar: Graduate Student Edition- Taylor Goelz (MPP & MS)



Taylor Goelz W&M MPP and VIMS MS dual degree student discusses her research with the public at a graduate student event. (Photo credit: VIMS Twitter)


One thing I’ve learned from my time in the W&M Public Policy Program is if you want to make any influence on policy, you should be able to communicate your position. If you can’t present a clear, coherent and concise argument, then your chances of influencing anyone are low. I’m fortunate that this message emphasizing communication has also started to bloom within the scientific community, especially from scientists that wish to have their work incorporated into setting policy. As a dual degree student in the W&M Master of Public Policy program and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science’s (VIMS) Masters program of Marine Science, I’m lucky to be in the crosshairs of these two amazing disciplines and the messaging on communication they both emphasize.

A few weeks ago I got to share some early results from some of my VIMS thesis work at a public outreach event titled “A Scientist Walks Into a Bar: Graduate Student Edition” held at Alewerks Brewing Company. The purpose of this event was to allow graduate students a platform to practice communicating their research with the general public. During my time at W&M and VIMS, I’ve spent a lot of time on trying to develop my science communication skills, ranging from taking a course offered by Virginia Sea Grant to helping Dr. Emily Rivest develop a Science Communication course being offered this semester.  This event was exciting because it gave me another opportunity to practice these vital skills.

During the evening, I gave a short and sweet five-minute talk while sharing my results via poster with dozens of interested individuals. I worked hard on making my results easy to understand. I explained how I’ve been measuring different stakeholder’s attitudes towards science, local knowledge, and scientific modeling. These attitudes are becoming more similar as stakeholder groups interact together and share their ideas. That’s a punch line that I think everyone can understand; the more you talk to someone, the more similar how you think, feel, talk, etc. can become. I found the night a little ironic, a science-communication focused dual degree student speaking on the importance of communication, but I think the event went really well! Through relaxed conversation with many interested parties, I think I was able to spread the importance of social science research in the marine sciences paired perfectly with delicious beer!


Meet Our Students: Molly Miller

In the Master of Public Policy program at William & Mary, we take great pride in our students. Each person in the program brings something special to the table and we are thrilled to shine the spotlight on them whenever we get the chance. This is Molly Miller (’19). Molly is a first year student in the International Development and Policy track and she answered a few questions for us recently.

Molly Miller

1. Where are you from?

Springfield, Virginia

2. What brought you to the William & Mary Master of Public Policy Program?

I liked the program’s emphasis on quantitative skills and the opportunity to take law courses at the William & Mary Law School. Both of these features made the W&M program stand out from other programs.

3. What were you doing before you joined us?

I was an undergraduate studying International Affairs at the University of Mary Washington.

4. What is your favorite thing to do on campus?

This isn’t actually on campus, but it’s really close to campus so I’m going to count it. I love to go to Aroma’s coffee shop and get their flavored coffee of the day with a biscotti and study for an hour or two.

5. Favorite thing about the program?

I like how personal our program is, all of the professors and administrators know all the students by name, and all the students know one another.

6. What advice do you have for prospective graduate students who may be on the fence about applying to the W&M MPP program?

Definitely come to admitted students’ day and get a better feel for the program, the community, and the school! Walking around campus and talking to current students will definitely help you decide if this is the place for you, I know it did for me!

7. What has been your favorite class so far and why? 
I loved Quantitative Methods 1 with Professor DiLorenzo. This class covered material that was so totally new to me, but Matt made everything accessible and easy to understand. It was fun to be out of my element, and I enjoyed developing new skills in Stata and data analysis.

8. Where do you want to go from here?

I would love to work with a development organization, public or private, and create programs that promote economic growth in developing countries.

9. What are your hobbies?

Hot Yoga, Reading YA Novels, Facetiming my nephews, The Bachelor, Barre Classes

10. Describe yourself in three words.

Upbeat, Adventurous, Noodle-y

11. Favorite book?

Wool by Hugh Howey

12. What message would you like to receive from the future? 

I would love something along the lines of “The life you have chosen to lead will be endlessly fulfilling.”

13. If you could meet one person in the world, living or dead, who would it be and why?

J.R.R. Tolkien, because I love Lord of the Rings and I would love to have a conversation about how he was able to imagine the LOTR world. He was a serious genius, he created languages, religious concepts, and managed to make his stories an allegory for WWII. I just think that he was so brilliant, and I would love to pick his brain. Also, he wrote a children’s book called Letters from Father Christmas that is really magical, so he wrote more than just adult fiction. He was a man of many talents I guess.

Thanks for sharing, Molly! Keep up with Molly and the other MPPs by following us on Facebook and LinkedIn. For more information on the Public Policy Program, visit our website.