When Janet, Karen, and Lynn graduated in 1971, their legacy continued. Each went on to accomplish incredible things, and impact their communities. Similarly to their college experiences, their careers were marked not by the color of their skin but their determination and intelligence.
Janet Brown Strafer
Upon graduating from William & Mary, Janet Brown Strafer taught in the Williamsburg-James City County School System. She was appointed Warrant Officer to the Army National Guard in 1986. Concurrent with her time in the Maryland National Guard, Strafer also served as a civilian, where she received the Meritous Civilian Service Award upon retirement. This hat, with its gold Warrant Officer emblem, was what Janet wore upon her appointment. Throughout her 35 years in federal service, Ms. Strafer served in a number of roles, including Management Analyst within the National Guard Bureau, Program Director for the Army Strategic Leader Development Program and Branch Chief and Senior Policy Analyst in the Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction and Proliferation Policy Division.
Not long before Robert Gates became Chancellor of William & Mary, he retired from his role as 22nd United States Secretary of Defense. Before his departure, he took pictures with many Department of Defense employees, including Janet Brown Strafer, who was #733 in line, when she was serving as Branch Chief and Senior Policy Analyst in the Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction and Proliferation Policy Division.
After majoring in biology at William & Mary, Karen Ely has committed her life to the sciences. She taught middle school life science, physical science and earth science for eight years at Wadleigh Secondary School in New York City after graduating with her Master of Science in Education from Old Dominion University. Ely has spent a total of 27 years in the radiation protection field. Fourteen of those years were spent with the Radiological Control Office at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard. She is currently a health physicist at Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center in her hometown of Portsmouth, VA.
Before attending William & Mary, Lynn Briley graduated - with honors - from I. C. Norcom High School in Portsmouth, VA. Following graduation she returned to Portsmouth Schools, teaching Language Arts, Reading and English and earned her Certificate of Advanced Study in Educational Administration at Old Dominion University in 1987. Briley became the first alumna of I. C. Norcom High School to serve as principal in 2005. She retired from Portsmouth Public Schools in 2013 and continues to teach, this time at Tidewater Community College, Portsmouth Campus.
In 2011, the Hulon Willis Association honored the three alumnae during their 40th class reunion. In 2012, the three were honored once again with a plaque in their freshmen dorm, Jefferson Hall.
In 2014, Lynn Briley ran for the Portsmouth Public School Board with the campaign slogan of “Students First.” These photographs were taken at various campaign events with her supporters, including former US Ambassador to the Republic of Liberia and Lesotho and Norcom alumnus Bismark Myrick, Vice Mayor of Portsmouth Paige D. Cherry and US Congressmen Bobby Scott.