From Wisconsin to Williams

by Leslie Jeffs Senke '89

ginger sailing
Ginger Greene '85

Growing up in the Midwest, going to college “Out East” was not the norm. Both of my parents attended the University of Michigan, and I probably would have ended up there myself if it weren’t for summer camp.

During the summers from 1980 to 1983, I attended an all-girls’ camp in northern Wisconsin called Minne Wonka Lodge. My camp experience influenced me in myriad ways, but most notably it introduced me to Williams College. Ginger Greene (now Ginger Greene Williams ’85) was a sailing counselor there, and I absolutely idolized her. She was smart, funny, strong, brave, beautiful, kind and always had a smile on her face and an encouraging word for anyone who stopped by the sailing cabin. She also always wore Williams College apparel and was dating a boy from a nearby camp who also went to Williams (Ben Williams ’85). I was too young to care much about college at the time, but I stored that information away. During my junior year of high school, my mom bought me a college guide, and Williams College was the first page I turned to. I figured if Ginger went there, it had to be great—and I was not wrong!!!

Sadly for me, Ginger graduated in June 1985, a few months before I arrived on campus for Freshman Days. Nevertheless, I always associated her with Williams—and still do—and I owe her a great debt of gratitude for bringing my attention to this incredible, life-changing college. Williams changed me in so many ways. It gave me some of my best friends and favorite memories. It opened my mind to the vast possibilities and opportunities that awaited me. And I received an education that has made my life infinitely more nuanced and appreciated. When I told my college counselor at my high school that I was going to Williams, her response was, “Why on earth would you want to leave Michigan?” I knew then, and I remain convinced today, that there is no greater college than Williams, and I feel lucky to have attended and to continue to feel connected through the Alumni Association. Thanks, Ginger, and thanks, Williams!

Leslie Senke at camp
Leslie Senke '89 at summer camp

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