Backing the Essentials of University Excellence
The University’s Jefferson Literary and Debating Society may seem an unlikely setting for romance, but for Puja Seam (College ’00) and Allan J. “Jamey” Thompson III (Engineering ’00), that’s where theirs began.
“We met the second semester of our second year in the Jeff Society,” Seam recalled. “We were just friends at first, but started dating the next fall.”
Founded in 1825, the society is both the oldest organization at U.Va. and oldest continuously existing collegiate debating society in North America.
A native of Winchester, Virginia, Seam spent a summer during high school taking courses at the University. When the time came for college, she chose U.Va. for its strong academics. She was an Echols Scholar and knew early on that she wanted to major in government and foreign affairs.
Thompson chose U.Va. for other reasons. Between Charlottesville and his hometown in South Carolina lay a multitude of colleges and universities he could have attended. But it was U.Va.’s size and location that drew him. “I didn’t want to go to a school in a big city. The Grounds were beautiful, and U.Va. seemed like the right combination of history, academics, and geographic setting.”
At U.Va., Seam and Thompson pursued various extracurricular interests. In addition to their Jefferson Society membership, he was elected Student Council vice president, she joined the University Democrats, and they both served as class trustees during their fourth year. The trustee role was, Thompson said, the first step in their “transition from being students at the University to being alumni.”
After graduation, Seam moved to New York to work in investment banking; two years later, she entered Harvard Law School and graduated in 2005. Thompson headed to Princeton University, where he earned a master’s degree and doctorate in operations research and financial engineering. They continued to date long distance and married in 2006. They now live in Chicago, where Seam works as a corporate attorney and Thompson as a portfolio manager at a hedge fund.
Yet neither time nor geographic distance has diminished their connection to U.Va. Seam cited the rich academic experience and lasting friendships she forged as the hallmarks of her undergraduate life. Thompson agreed. Then, he laughingly added that the “image of the White Spot on Friday night at 2 a.m.” stands out in his storehouse of U.Va. memories.
Their reasons for supporting the University speak to the essentials of educational excellence. “We give,” Seam said, “to ensure that U.Va. can attract top faculty and support strong academic programs, which can then help students reach their potential.”