As Thanksgiving weekend draws to a close, a few final reflections about gratitude for the lives we share at Trinity. We have a remarkable community at Trinity, a great place for learning and growing and advancing the best of what a great higher education should be. Surely, we have our challenges! But when I observe our students, faculty and staff together on any given day —- whether on the soccer field (our wonderful winning team, above!) or racing through the lobby of the Payden Center for class or giving presentations in the Rose Parlor or figuring out financial aid in Enrollment Services or talking about so many things over lunch in the dining hall — when I watch the daily life of Trinity I know that this is a special place that deserves our gratitude and also our best efforts to keep our mission vital and fresh for each new generation of students.
Trinity students are always ready to swing into action, whether to march on the Hill for a #CleanDreamActNow or heading off to clinicals or internships or volunteer opportunities all over Washington. The energy and commitment of Trinity students is obvious when others in our community encounter them in many different places of work and service.
This sense of urgency to change the world for the better carries over into the lives of our graduates. Sydney Cross ’10 and Brigid Otieno ’09 carried their passion to the State Department after earning prestigious Rangel Fellowships for postgraduate study at Howard University. At State, these young Trinity alumnae have already had assignments all over the world, and they seek to improve conditions of life in every place they encounter:
I encounter Trinity alumnae and alumni in so many places — at meetings at the D.C. Public Schools where so many Trinity alums are teachers and administrators, or in the nonprofit community, or out and about in the business community. We are so fortunate that many alumnae return to Trinity as adjunct faculty — thank you! Here’s a great example, our very own Peggy O’Brien ’69 of Folger Shakespeare Library (also former board chair, former president of the Alumnae Association, and so much more!) who is teaching Shakespeare here this semester and her very lucky students got to examine some of the Folger’s treasured manuscripts:
And here’s Katie Breslin ’13, who was a great student leader and now continues the tradition in her work for the Friends Committee on National Legislation as she welcomes Trinity students Daniella and Gabriella (below) on their way to lobby for the Dream Act:
Thank you, Katie! And in her “spare” time Katie continues to be active with Young Democrats (she led the College Dems here in her student days) and recently was on “Off Script” with Bruce Johnson (Channel 9) discussing the pervasive news about sexual harassment:
Recently, we also welcomed one of our most prominent alumnae to campus as part of the Dreamer Symposium on October 24. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi ’62 has an unimaginably packed schedule, but when she heard that Trinity students and faculty had organized the day to learn about DACA and how we could support our Dreamers, she made sure she found the time to come out to campus to be with our students (photos below by Summer Faulk):
Thank you, Trinity Sister Nancy Pelosi! This kind of solidarity among alums, students, faculty and staff is a powerful thread that energizes Trinity’s mission across generations. My gratitude to all is immense.
Yes, Trinity has challenges as mentioned above. We are a frugal, thrifty institution — that means we never have enough money, it seems, and yet, we take the spirit of poverty that we inherited from the Sisters of Notre Dame as a virtue, not a deficit. The SNDs founded Trinity so that women could enjoy a superb collegiate education, something women once were denied. We continue to make a great Trinity education accessible to women, and many men today, who might not otherwise achieve a higher education. That commitment means we put our students first in every thing we do, including our budget choices. In the current fiscal year, that amounts to about $10 million in student grants. Much of that amount is “unfunded” meaning that we simply discount tuition. We are grateful to generous donors who help to close some of that gap.
At a time when higher education is roundly criticized for being too expensive, Trinity does everything possible to keep our costs affordable for our students, and that means some sacrifices of amenities and salary levels that would seem “normal” elsewhere. We put our values in the right place, controlling costs rather than spending on frills. We do this for our students in large ways and small ones each day.
I am very grateful to the faculty and staff who share this commitment to Trinity’s values, and to our trustees, alumnae and benefactors whose volunteer service, personal generosity and commitment to Trinity’s mission ensure a vibrant future for this remarkable university. To all who work to ensure Trinity’s vibrant present and bright future each day, I offer two small words with great meaning: THANK YOU!