A long time ago, thanks to the generosity of benefactors I never knew, I was able to achieve what once seemed like an impossible dream — a Trinity degree! I was in the first generation in my family to attend and complete college, and then law school, and scholarships made all the difference.
I thought of this yesterday when I attended a wonderful event at the J.W. Marriott for D.C. high school students. The D.C. College Assistance Program (DC-CAP) is a privately-funded organization that provides scholarships and college counseling for D.C. high school students. Many Trinity students have received very generous “last dollar” grants from DC-CAP, and this financial assistance often makes the difference in the students’ ability to complete each semester successfully.
DC-CAP was founded and funded by Washington Post Chairman Donald Graham; his remarkable vision and energetic persuasion pulled together a coalition of local corporations and foundations who provided sizeable gifts to support the program. Thanks to their generosity, more than 6,000 D.C. students are now enrolled in colleges across the nation, with one of the largest single groups enrolled at Trinity. Because of Trinity’s leadership in the education of D.C. residents, DC-CAP honored Trinity yesterday with the annual DC-CAPtain’s Award — a very nice recognition for Trinity.
Argelia Rodriguez, the extraordinary executive director of DC-CAP, led yesterday’s program that recognized many outstanding young women and men in the D.C. Schools, and provided valuable college preparation advice to the more than 1,000 students and parents attending. I was very impressed with the students who won prizes for their poems, essays and artwork illustrating their desire to attend college. They also heard an inspired talk by Sheila Johnson, co-founder of BET and president of the Washington Mystics, an entrepreneur and leader who encouraged the students to pursue their dreams with passion and intelligence each day.
One of the best parts of the afternoon came when I met a group of DC-CAP counselors who revealed that most of them are also enrolled in Trinity’s graduate programs in teaching and counseling, or are recent master’s graduates. I was also delighted to reconnect with Savetria Y. Francis, a 2002 graduate of Trinity’s School of Education, who is now assistant principal at T. Roosevelt High School. These men and women of Trinity are making a real difference in the D.C. Schools — they make alma mater proud!
Gratitude was the strongest feeling I took away from this event — gratitude for the hard work of the DC-CAP staff and counselors; gratitude for the great generosity of Donald Graham and his colleagues who founded this program and who fund so many Trinity students today; gratitude for the students and parents who will spend a tremendous amount of time and energy to be sure that their college search is successful. And, as I drove home, I also remembered to say a word of thanks to those benefactors nearly four decades ago whose generosity gave me my start on the pathway to success.