Related: Academics, Celebration, Higher Education, Students, Trinity, Trinity Alumnae

Congratulations, Graduates!


Graduation hat I Made ItCongratulations to all Trinity graduates who are receiving their degrees on Friday, January 5!  Our Winter Graduation will be a festive occasion with nearly 200 degrees to award and probably more than a thousand guests, weather permitting!  Our graduates have triumphed through a lot of hard work; have overcome significant obstacles and are rightfully proud of their achievements.  We celebrate with you!  I asked our students who are graduating to share a paragraph telling their story, and below are the responses thus far —- if you are graduating and would like to add your story, please send it to me with a photo at or you can add it to the comments section below.

Congratulations, Trinity graduates, and welcome to the great body of Trinity Alumnae and Alumni!

Milicent D. White, School of Professional Studies, Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice

Mily WhiteWhile attending Trinity, I was diagnosed with and completed treatment for Stage IIA breast cancer. Likewise, during this timeframe, I returned to community college and obtained my Associate’s degree in Criminal Justice (2012). I also started my own business in 2014. While it took me twice as long to obtain my Bachelor’s degree, 9 years vice 4, I am grateful for the professors and faculty at Trinity for their compassion, support and understanding. I’m the first person in my immediate family to graduate with a four-year degree and I plan to continue my education and seek my Master’s degree in either Cybersecurity, Criminal Justice or by applying for law school.


Sara Haile, School of Nursing and Health Professions, Masters in Occupational Therapy

Sara HaileI’m earning my Master’s degree in occupational therapy. I have been yearning for this degree for many years and now I have attained it. I’m proud to be part of the first graduating class of the Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT) program at Trinity Washington University. My journey in the MOT program was not an easy task to complete, but it is an achievement that I am proud to say that I have accomplished. Studying 6+ hours per day, getting 2 hours of sleep the night before exams, completing independent and group projects, forming study groups with my classmates (whom I can for sure call my friends) was all worth the challenge! When I first received the call that I was accepted to the MOT program at Trinity, I was so happy, but I also knew that my social life MUST change in order to successfully complete this program. My friends and family were their to support me through this process. I’m now preparing for my national board exam to become a registered occupational therapist and embarking on my new career to help individuals of all ages live life to its fullest.

Shanee A. Young, School of Education, Master of Science in Educational Administration

Shanee YoungSix is the number of elementary schools I attended between kindergarten and sixth grade. As a young child matriculating through the Prince George’s County education system, I did not understand at that time what education equity meant. After six years of teaching, and two years in Trinity’s graduate program I can say I am now well aware. This knowledge, however, is accompanied by a heavy feeling; I am made aware of how detrimental education inequity can be to our most marginalized students, and charged with changing that narrative. While many students may have a story similar to mine, it should not matter if a child attends six schools…or twelve, the quality of the education should not change. How can I ensure that all students attain a quality education, regardless of their zip code? It is this question and many others that I must answer. I am charged with being a change agent in the field of education, advocating for students’ right to an excellent education. With the tools Trinity’s program has provided, I can accept the challenge!

Vanessa Bowers-Colclough, AA ’16, School of Professional Studies, Bachelor of Arts in General Studies

Note:  this Trinity graduate’s academic journey started at the University of the District of Columbia in 1982; Vanessa is a great example of the fact that lifelong learning is important and academic success is achievable!

I am a single mother of five children; one is currently a student here at Trinity, two others are enrolled in college, one has completed college and one is being inspired to go on to complete college. I had attended college in my early twenties; I did not complete. After years of wishing to return to college to complete my education, thoughts begin to form in my mind: I was too old. I heard about Trinity’s evening classes at THEARC. I was eager and excited to attend classes with other adults. Not only did I graduate with my Associate Degree from Trinity University in General Studies, but also, Trinity has enhanced my ability to think and reason in a more prolific way in pursuing my dreams in helping others to realize their lives have meaning and purpose. I continued my education at Trinity’s main campus and today I am happy to announce I am receiving my Bachelor’s Degree in General Studies. My plan is to encourage the youth to pursue their dreams because dreams, with work and dedication, can prevail. I give thanks to God, Trinity’s staff and to myself in believing I could do it, in spite of doubts and obstacles.

TyYonna Seaton, College of Arts and Sciences, Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration

As we all know, stability is maintained through the ability to adapt. As a transfer from Garrett Community College, I was inspired to attend Trinity Washington University because of the culture and most importantly the idea of being mainly populated by women with few men. This helped me a lot, although at times I felt as if I could not stay focused and perceptive. My journey was progressing with eyes and hands in front of me. This was my support system, giving me the strength and courage to figure out who I was and what I wanted out of life. Realizing that mistakes comes with growth as growth develops into knowledge. It’s true, I have worked hard to get here but I could not have done it better without the support and determination of the individuals who has empowered me to do better. I learned that the only support I needed was existence and understanding. Thank you to my professors, the staff at Trinity, my family and peers who has never gave up on me.

Talia Zephyrin, College of Arts and Sciences, Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice, Sociology Minor

TaliaWhen I first came to Trinity, I was unsure of what I wanted to do as far as my studies as well as life after college. I was a little discouraged because I had to start my educational journey a semester late and then after my first semester, I was forced to take a semester off for personal reasons. Nonetheless, I returned to school the following semester and made a commitment to myself to take the maximum amount of credits/classes for the remainder of my time at Trinity since I was so far behind. During my journey through Trinity, I pushed myself to limits I never thought I could go, discovered my strengths, improved upon my weaknesses, and developed a plan for my future. It wasn’t until one of my professors, Dr. Moitra sat with me one day to grade one of my presentations, that I realized what I wanted to do with my degree. Dr. Moitra expressed to me that my analytical skills and abilities were impeccable. That’s when I decided that I would attend grad school like so many of my professors had hoped for me and I established a career goal of working for either the FBI or CIA as an intelligence or behavioral analyst. Since that conversation, I was able to land a job on my own with DHS to prepare me for my future career goals. I have managed to maintain full time employment and excel as a full time student simultaneously, while being on the Dean’s List three semesters here at Trinity. Though my journey was far from easy, it was very beneficial to the young woman I am today and the woman that I will be tomorrow. In only three and a half years, I have successfully satisfied my graduation requirements and realized my full potential.

Wainneka Washington, College of Arts and Sciences, Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice

“Courage in women is often mistaken as insanity.”

Crime was all around me, in my neighborhood, at my school, on the news and even in my favorite movies. My four years as Criminal Justice major pushed my perspective of what I thought I knew and taught me techniques that assisted me with the knowledge of facts, concepts and principles that form the core of the Criminal Justice system. My growth these past four years has made me a better student, daughter, sister and friend. And although I’ll miss Trinity, my work as a Trinity woman doesn’t stop here. I will be pursuing my masters in Social Work at Howard University next fall. If I can make a change somewhere in someone’s life, then I’ll know that I have done my job. Here’s to my 2017 graduating class.

Nelly B. Valdes, College of Arts and Sciences, Bachelor of Arts, Health Services

Nelly Valdez and husbandI am from El Salvador and the first generation in my family to graduate from college. My success story doesn’t begin the day I enrolled at Trinity. My success story begins the day I came back after suffering a minor and a major stroke, which changed my life, having up/downs with my health and never giving up.  I had to start practically from zero.  With the support of my family and my professors such as Professor Kent Kraft and the help of the Disability Department with Ms. Kimberly McManus at Trinity I was able to continue and complete my education. Before my strokes, I was never able to get on Dean’s List. Ever since I had my strokes in 2013, I can proudly say that I have been on Dean’s list on multiple occasions. The key is not to be the smartest student in the class but to be among the most consistent of them all. I had to study harder than my classmates in order to keep the same optimistic academical goals they were showing, to make my dream come true. I set a goal for myself, promising that if I didn’t graduate on my 45th birthday I wouldn’t give up.  Finally, my dream is going to come true on January 5th the day of my graduation. I would like to give huge thanks to my family for their support, Trinity staff in every single level and most of all to Trinity itself for giving me the opportunity to continue with my education and helping my dream to come true. Especially thanks to Dean Sita Ramamurti and Provost Carlota Ocampo for believing in me.

Alisa Gbiorczyk, College of Arts and Sciences, Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs

AlisaTrinity has given me the opportunity to obtain my college degree. I am forever grateful for the compassion from the Trinity staff and the education they were able to give me.  I currently work as a project manager for an International Government Contracting Firm that provides security services to all the embassies and government institutions in Europe and Middle East.  Throughout school I many times had seizures (in the class room during lecture). The professors were always very understanding and took great care of me. They kept me motivated when I thought I was not going to make it one more day. Their mentorship and guidance kept me on the good path towards success.  The professors were very patient with me when I had to go to Poland for seizure treatments and testing. I will forever be thankful for them. They kept pushing me and encouraging me and now I was able to graduate early so that I can spend the next year focusing on getting myself back to good health. The one thing I promised my mother before she died was that I would do anything to graduate with a degree.  I am proud to say I am doing that and my next step is a masters at Harvard University studying International Studies this coming spring. Through my intense sickness and trials during my life in college I was able to finally take a breath and graduate. I am so thankful for the family I have made here. I love all my Trinity sisters here. It’s been a beautiful thing to grow with them throughout the years.

Lauren Nabinett, College of Arts & Sciences,  Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts

Lauren NabinettMy journey at Trinity has been forged with many unexpected twist and turns. I started at Trinity in 2003 and today in 2018 I complete my Undergraduate Degree in Fine Arts. I have had many challenges but, many more triumphs along the way! I have been honored to sit under the teachings of some of the best professors this side of the Mississippi, in my opinion! I have been taught by authors, US Colonels, doctors in various specialties, SND’s, historians and philanthropists, and with each course I’ve been challenged to give my best, to push beyond challenges and to come out victorious.This experience has been life changing in so many ways! I am often driven to tears in deep gratitude because of the depth of knowledge and warmth and caring shown to me. At Trinity I am not just another number or face lost in a sea of students. I am treated as equal to world renowned scholars and I consider it an honor and a privilege to be counted amongst you! All my best to the faculty, staff, graduating student body and future Trinity alums and student body.

Lolita Minnah, College of Arts and Sciences, Bachelor of Arts in Human Relations

Lolita MinnahGraduating from Trinity today was not an easy journey. My college journey was filled with lots of homework, essays, quizzes and mostly pulling all-night to get my work done on time. Throughout my years at Trinity, I’ve grown academically, professionally and most importantly, I’ve learned the importance of sisterhood and how women can come together regardless of nationality or ethnicity and bond in a way that portrays strength and creativity. I cannot forget my Conway sisters who have helped me through my journey and I won’t know what to do without them. I am in the process of applying to graduate school for social work in the fall of 2018.


Shilonda Waller, School of Business and Graduate Studies, Masters in Business Administration

Shilonda and son

I am 36 years old and I will be receiving my Master’s Degree in Business.  I decided take the journey in receiving my MBA because of a couple of different reasons.  Since I received my undergraduate degree from Morgan State University in 2004 the economy has been through many changes, which affected me personally.  I have been through two layoffs because of it and I wanted to make myself more marketable.  Also, I am an Accountant by trade and wanted to gain the credits in order to sit for the CPA exam.  I also have a ten year old son that I wanted to be proud of me and I want to be example for him to see how important education is, especially in the black community.  I originally enrolled in Trinity in 2011 and after completing one year, I had to take a break due to personal reasons.  After re-enrolling in the Fall of 2015 and going full time for the last two years I am very proud to be walking across the stage next week with my son watching me.

Kristy Monique Jones, School of Professional Studies, Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice

At the age of 17, I wanted to become a lawyer but I felt like I didn’t have time for the journey. After being laid off by my job and suing them, I won without representation. I knew it was time for me to go after my dreams. At the age of 30, I was single mother to my amazing son Christopher, a fairly new Christian, and a survivor of Domestic Violence. In 2015, the vision board I created in 2012 came to life when I returned to school after 10 years to finish my Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice. By faith, I declined all my student loans. Two weeks later, I was awarded a survivor’s scholarship every semester by Warren Buffet’s sister Doris Buffet through her foundation, the Women’s Independence Scholarship Program. This has allowed me to graduate debt free. At Trinity, I discovered a passion to advocate for boys literacy, empower women, and I established great relationships. My plans after Trinity is to publish my first book and go to Law School. I want to become a politician to advocate for women’s issues, homelessness, and child literacy. I give all the glory to God for my life, every blessing, overcoming all obstacles, making the Dean’s List, and graduating Cum Laude, Class of 2017.

Bonita Ann Burnett, School of Professional Studies, Bachelor of Arts in Human Relations

BonitaI spent 19 years here at Trinity Washington University before finally graduating. It ought to have been less, yet life travel bends never disclose to you how your street will be. Shockingly, my street was extremely rough. I am a divorcee, survivor of domestic violence, single parent, and a colored woman. I came to Trinity Washington University in the summer of 1998 when it was Trinity College. My plans were to graduate, but I had my commitment as a parent and that prevented me from graduating earlier than expected. I had to work low paying jobs, while fulfilling my single parent duties, where I had to send my daughter to a private school, so she would get better opportunities than I.  My plans changed after she graduated from secondary school and was accepted to a prestigious college in California with full scholarship. It was my responsibility as a parent to move in order to help my daughter in any capacity. Upon our return to District of Columbia, I resumed at Trinity Washington University once more, amid that time I encountered some personal and professional distractions, by and by. I kept my determination to graduate. Today I can completely say I have “discovered my strength” at Trinity Washington University.  What will I do with my degree? I plan to teach within my community and internationally, with the hope of gaining my graduate degree. This will provide me with better tools to give back to a community that was so good to me.

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