Meet Our Staff

Elaina Wenger '17

Assistant Director of Admissions
Text: 540-254-5840
Pronouns: she/her/hers

Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina

Short Answer Prompts:

To help jumpstart your brainstorming and to demonstrate that we empathize with the challenges you face in applying to college, our staff has published their own responses to our supplemental short-answer prompts. We hope you'll enjoy learning a bit about us and will feel more comfortable showcasing something new about yourself. Remember, these are optional, and you are asked to submit only one.
Prompt #3 (Max 250 words or 2-Minute Video):

Reveal to us how your curious mind works by sharing something you spend considerable time thinking or learning about.

I’ve always enjoyed chemistry more than other sciences, but never envisioned myself in a lab-centric career. Recently, though, I’ve become fascinated by the beauty industry, specifically cosmetic chemistry, and the impacts of product formulations on the ability of people to care for their skin well. There is a large fearmongering movement on social media focused on the belief that “clean” or “natural” ingredients are healthier or more efficacious than those that are more “chemical”-heavy. These “clean” products are typically more expensive and less accessible than products at drugstores or big-box stores like Walmart or Target, and many of the arguments for “clean” beauty are rooted in classism and racism. Looking to the experts — cosmetic chemists and dermatologists, primarily, many of whom also serve as social justice advocates — has helped me learn so much about not only the science of skincare, but the importance of inclusivity and affordability in the beauty industry. The confidence that comes from feeling good in one’s skin is powerful, and the approach to beauty and skincare should not be based on fear or judgment. I’m hopeful expert opinion becomes a louder voice than that of people who make baseless claims, in the beauty industry and beyond.

Prompt #5 (MAX 250 WORDS OR 2-MINUTE VIDEO):

You’re assembling a team (for a business, sports league, ensemble, etc.). Your job is to build a healthy and cohesive team that achieves and sustains success in its field. Quickly explain your team’s purpose and then focus on the types of people who comprise your team and which of their skills and/or character strengths are most important to you.

I’m not an athlete, but there’s something mesmerizing about a team when they’re playing well, watching their collective movements but not knowing their thoughts. Obviously, any successful team needs people who can play the game at a high level physically, but equally important, I think, is having players who are mentally and emotionally mature. The closest I can get to understanding those inner workings is through my favorite TV show, Ted Lasso, in which an American football coach finds himself leading a Premier League soccer team in London. AFC Richmond is full of big personalities: the surly and serious Roy Kent, the arrogant and self-absorbed, yet talented, Jamie Tartt, the kind but easily-rattled Sam Obisanya, and their teammates who, over the course of three seasons, battle their way from relegation to the Champions League. Ted tapes up a sign on his first day that simply reads “BELIEVE," and the Richmond players don’t succeed until they learn to set aside their egos, believe in each other, and uses their individual strengths to aid the entire group. If I had to build a team, I’d take a page from their book. The richness of any team’s dynamic lies in each player’s differences—you need the realism of a Roy, raw talent of a Jamie, and the emotional sensitivity of a Sam—but I think the most important quality in a successful one is the willingness of each individual to believe in and work for the good of the whole.

A Little More About Me

Favorite place on campus:

Tucker Hall because it’s home to the Classics department. I was a Classics and Political Philosophy double major and during the Colonnade renovations, my courses were scattered throughout other academic buildings. I’m so happy the Classics faculty and students now have such a gorgeous place to call home!

Favorite part of your W&L experience:

Tough question! If I had to just choose one part of my college experience, it would be the time I spent singing in the University Singers and General Admission. These organizations took me on my first trip abroad, taught me how to lead, and gave me a set of lifelong friends I wouldn’t trade for anything (not even unlimited General’s Grilled Cheeses from the E. Café).

Favorite place to eat in Lexington:

This is a three-way tie between Napa Thai, TAPS, and Pure Eats – they all have very different vibes, but they also have incredibly kind staff and delicious food. Honorable mention to Heliotrope, a delicious pizza place owned by a W&L faculty member!

Favorite W&L event:

Lessons and Carols. When I was a member of the University Singers and InterVarsity, one of W&L’s campus ministries, participating in this event allowed me to combine my faith with my passion for music. Now that I’m on staff, attending Lessons and Carols is my favorite way to celebrate Christmas with other members of the W&L community!

What makes Lexington unique?

I think Lexington’s size is its most unique feature. It is small enough that I have been able to invest deeply in the community through work, play, and service. At the same time, it is large enough that even after almost a decade as a member of the Lexington community, I continue to meet people and make new friends.

Favorite things to do outside work?

I love catching sunset views out in Rockbridge County, eating brunch at Waffle House when my alumni friends come back to town, and playing fetch on the Colonnade with my dog, Chessie (named after Lexington’s Chessie Nature Trail!).

Office of Admissions

Gilliam House
19 Letcher Avenue
Lexington, Virginia 24450