Faces of Lexington: Paqui Toscano ’16

Hannah Howard

1. Where is your hometown? what do you miss most about it?

I am from Kettering, Ohio, which is just outside of Dayton. I love Lexington, but there are hardly any Cincinnati Reds fans here!

2. What is your most embarrassing childhood story that you laugh about now?

I can remember once when we were playing dodgeball in gym class—which was always a struggle in the first place—a ball hit my ear and sent my hearing aid flying. I had no idea what to do, and so I fell down on my hands and knees trying desperately to find this small device as everyone else sent me strange looks, but the hearing aid made it through all in one piece!

3. What sealed the deal on your decision to come to W&L?        

I didn’t realize how much I really wanted to come to Washington and Lee until I had the opportunity to step onto campus: seeing the pervasive sense of community and trust at work here really inspired me. I can remember coming to campus and being amazed by how much the professors cared about the subjects they were teaching and their students, and the students themselves were so incredibly friendly.

4. What do you think is Is ONE OF your most important campus involvements?

Student Recruitment Committee.

5. Why does that remain so important to you?

I am honored to play a role in recruiting the next class of Generals.

6. Favorite spot on campus?

There’s something about the Colonnade that really resonates with me. The stately red brick façade of the buildings coupled with the grandeur of the columns represents to me the sense of history and tradition with which W&L is endowed. My friends and I also made quite a few memories in the former Gaines gameroom freshman year, so that was one of my favorite spots too.

7. What do you do to unwind from classes and extra commitments?

I really enjoy the time I spend hanging out with my friends at W&L, and I am very thankful for the friendships I have forged here.

8. What is the best lesson this community has taught you?

Being part of a community means that you actively participate in that community and you support others in that community; when the going gets tough, you’re there for them.

9. Tell us your three favorite professors or most inspiring campus figureS.

In the English department, I have really appreciated my time working with Prof. Wheeler and Prof. Gertz—my English advisor — and in the Classics department, I have enjoyed taking classes with Prof. Crotty and Prof. Benefiel, who is my Classics advisor. She also made it possible for me to do research as part of a field team with her in Italy this summer. Let me say, though, that one of the most inspiring campus figures I have come in contact with here was Sergeant Larry Stuart. I met Larry the first week I was at W&L, and through thick and thin, he was always more than willing to help me out.

10. What has been your favorite class at W&L?

English 299 with Prof. Wheeler, which focused on speculative poetry, holds a special place in my heart because it is the gateway to the English major (and was also the first English class I took after I returned to campus), so it really helped me think more about my writing and the way I critically read texts.

11. Best W&L memory?

One weekend we had a birthday party for Earl Warren, whom I greatly respect, after one of my friends bought two Earl Warren-themed birthday cakes. That same semester, I also stayed up until 6:00 a.m. one morning with two of my friends, just talking about life and politics; one other morning, I woke up at 4:00 a.m. to watch the Australian Open championship match with another friend.

12. Can you tell us about the support the W&L community gave you last year?

Where do I even start? Put succinctly (which is rare for me, I know), I would not have been able to get through the accident and subsequent recovery without my W&L family. From the moment of the accident, the Washington and Lee community was there for me: I received get well cards and care packages from faculty and staff members. I think back to those first few weeks when I was home from the hospital, confined to a wheelchair with little to no use of my lower extremities, and one of the things that really helped me make it through was the immense kindness that so many people showed me. I’ve been asked before why I’m an optimist, and I always say that people have simply been too good to me for me to not be.

13. Elaborate on your involvement with the SJC.

So, I am currently the junior justice on the Student Judicial Council, which means that I am one of ten justices who work to adjudicate cases of student misconduct. After the formal hearing is over, a lot of what we do involves discussion and compromise amongst each other as we deliberate the verdict and any sanctions to be imposed.

14. Why do you think student governance is so important?

I think one of the hallmark attributes of Washington and Lee is the extent to which the faculty and administration trusts us to govern each other; I take that responsibility very seriously. We do that by holding those students who have perhaps slipped from exhibiting the gentlemanly (and womanly) standards of behavior at W&L accountable for their actions. The fact that the students themselves are upholding these conceptions of honorable behavior makes them all the more real and prevalent on campus—and more enduring.

16. What is one thing you’re constantly trying to improve?

The degree to which work instills anxiety within me. I love what I study and enjoy the work that is assigned in my classes—and it is important to me to give it my all all—but I don’t take enough deep breaths in life.