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William and Mary Digest. Nov. 16

Former student now part of Congress

Stephanie Murphy, a first-generation college student who graduated from William and Mary in 2000, found her way to Congress. She won Florida's 7th Congressional District race last week, upending John Mica, who'd been in his spot for more than 20 years.

Murphy tweeted the following after her win: "From the bottom of my heart, thank you Florida for the faith you have placed in me. I'm incredibly honored, and I will make you proud."

After graduating from William and Mary with a degree in economics, Murphy earned her master's in foreign service for Georgetown and has worked professionally in the public and private sectors.

Invasive species threaten campus garden

Students are working to restore the Crim Dell, a garden on the William and Mary campus which is overrun by English Ivy, bamboo and other species that do not belong there.

"Basically, the initial thing that we're working on is the ecology. We're removing invasive plants and trying to replace them with native ones to the area that are healthier but are actually meant to grow in that type of environment," said Jesse Smyth, a student working on the restoration.

The garden's importance to the look of the campus is a priority for the students as they have worked to remove plants that don't belong.

"We want it to blossom throughout the year," she said.

Volunteers have logged hundreds of hours and pulled thousands of plants. Eventually, the garden could become a mental health space.

"This is a really good green space on campus, where ideally people can go, sit, relax, get away from studies, get away from the stress of everyday college life," said Smyth. "And there have been studies that show being in green spaces is really good for your mental health, so we really want to make it an accessible place for people to do that."

Military policeman at Law School

Joshua Barnett spent time overseas in the Army National Guard as a military policeman; now he's back stateside studying for his next facet of public service.

"Law school is incredibly challenging, but in the best way," said Barnett. "My veteran experience makes it easy to keep things in proper perspective. When I feel overwhelmed. I just remember that I've been in more stressful situations, and, if I can deal with those, I can tackle law school."

Barnett, who went through deployments in Iraq and Kuwait, is quickly coming to the end of his military stint. Once he graduates in 2019, he'll transition into the courtroom to defend people who cannot afford a lawyer.

"In April of 2017, I formally leave the National Guard," he said. "I think that my deployments really affirmed my personal goals of helping others. Now it's time to help myself. I'm ready to focus on my future career as a Public Defender."

William and Mary's University News & Media department contributed to this report.

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