Commencement Celebration!May 25, 2018
Stormy weather did not dampen the enthusiasm of the Class of 2018 gathered with several thousand family members and friends to enjoy the 2018 Commencement on Saturday, May 19. Inside the Trinity Center, spirits were high and the Green Class members glowed with the pride of so much accomplishment. 259 graduates received diplomas for associate, baccalaureate and master’s degrees across all schools and disciplines.
Campus Minister Sr. Ann Howard, SND, opened the ceremony with a beautiful invocation. She also gave a very meaningful homily at the Baccalaureate Service on Thursday before commencement. (Sr. Ann Howard Commencement Invocation)
Trinity Board of Trustees Chair Sr. Patricia O’Brien, SND (above) greeted the Class of 2018 with lovely remarks on behalf of the Board of Trustees. (See Sr. Patricia O’Brien Greetings to the Class of 2018)
Sadhana Singh ’18 (on the right, above) welcomed Commencement honoree and speaker Donald Graham and read his citation. (See Citation for Donald Graham ). Mr. Graham’s address to the graduates (available on video here) was deeply moving, and a wonderful expression of his own generosity to so many Trinity students.
Don Graham is responsible for the creation of the D.C. Tuition Assistance Grant Program (DC-TAG) and D.C. College Access Program (DC-CAP) as well as the establishment of the national scholarship program for undocumented students known as TheDream.US — these programs have supported several thousand Trinity students across the last two decades.
Commencement 2018 included the first group of 20 graduates who are Dreamer Scholars (group photo above). These students achieved at remarkably high levels. As Mr. Graham noted in his remarks, 19 of the original 21 graduated in four years for a 95% completion rate, an astounding benchmark. 70% of the 20 Dreamers in the Class of 2018 graduated with honors (summa, magna and cum laude), a benchmark also well above the rest of the class. And 35% of the Dreamer graduates are members of Phi Beta Kappa, constituting more than 50% of the Phi Beta Kappa members of the Class of 2018, also a stunning achievement. (See Catholic News Service Article on Dreamers)
Congratulations to Emma Kamara (photo below) for winning the Mary Boyle McCrory Award for Excellence in Writing.
Many other students are members of honor societies and winners of awards given at the senior luncheon and through the year. The Commencement Program includes lists of all graduates and honors.
I gave remarks at commencement and also at the senior luncheon. You can access my remarks on these links:
You can view and purchase all commencement photos on the Commencement website. Here are some other favorites, and once again, congratulations to all graduates of the Class of 2018!Continue reading →Read comments (0) Add Comment
Sr. Ann Howard to Grads: May You Inherit PeaceMay 21, 2018
Campus Minister Sr. Ann Howard, SND, delivered a beautiful homily during the Baccalaureate Service in Notre Dame Chapel on May 17 to launch a great commencement weekend. Below is Sr. Ann’s homily:
PEACE BE WITH YOU!
Greetings in the Love of God who has brought you to this moment of grace: Commencement!
Commencement is a word that means a beginning. And every beginning signifies an end. As you end your college days, your hard work and study, your inner growth and development, you begin a path of lifelong learning. Your Trinity Days may be complete, your learning never ends! May you continue to learn as long as you are drawing breath! St. Julie Billiart, the foundress of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, a French woman of faith from the early 1800’s, loved God and instilled in the early Sisters and students this idea that learning is on-going and life-long. St. Julie would love the confidence and the courage you are exhibiting today! May your Commencement be a new beginning of further learning, deeper growth. Congratulations!
Today, in Hannah’s words, in Hebrew Scripture , we hear a ‘fiat! to God’ in Hannah’s desire to fulfill her promise to God. Her child would exercise right relationship with God and others. And in the reading from the Prophet, on Children, which is read at many graduations, we hear that children are born to live their own God-given lives. May the direction be– like Samuel, like children of all ages—a trajectory be towards a full life. One that bends towards peace and justice. The gospel reading from John, read this Sunday in our churches, tells us that Jesus’ word was PEACE. Peace beyond fear or doubt– PEACE is what he breathed on those gathered. Martin Luther King, Jr. is known to have said, “True peace is not the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.” As you step into your preferred future at commencement, draw some inspiration from the words we just heard, read by Dean Meechie, when Jesus appeared to his friends after his death… and resurrection, Not,“I’m glad that’s over!’ or “You have no idea what I have been through!” he said, “Peace be with you.”
In our world today, on the planet earth, and in our nation, and in our neighborhoods, and in our families and surely in our hearts, PEACE is a desired entity, a goal for which we work, for which we yearn.
These words are so pertinent to college graduates as you inherit your place in the world, may it be a world at peace. PEACE so our world as nations, as peoples of various cultures and geographies and sovereignties, can live in mutual respect and trust one another. PEACE be with you. Human Relations majors, political scientists, international studies majors, we ask God to bless you in your future calling.
PEACE so our planet, Earth, which is our common home, may be cared for and respected for the fragile balance that makes it work. So rich with diversity and so tender in the balance of chemistry and of careless pollution, let us strive to be agents of caring for the earth. PEACE be with you. Chemists, Science majors and Early Education majors, please continue to cultivate a care and an interest to protect the earth’s future.
Peace in our nation and our neighborhoods, may we learn to value all human life, all ages, all abilities, all racial, ethnic, educational backgrounds, toward a feasible and possible relationship of integrity and cooperation! With safety in playgrounds and schools, in city streets and rural farms and forests, let us grow in Peace. PEACE be with you! May our forensic scientists and future attorneys and civics teachers and imams and church pastors nurture the grand hope of Peace-through Justice in our neighborhoods and in our nation.
Peace in our families, for this is where we learn to live contently and peaceably. Each knowing her or his place within the home, and each contributing according to ability and talents, may we look to our families with eyes that cherish the presence of one another. You know what that requires from you, as a family, for families are different- each needing love and forgiveness, and a good measure of humor, to thrive in our day. PEACE be with you!
Students graduating this weekend, receiving your Associates, Bachelors and Masters degrees, PEACE be with you, for you have worked hard and achieved your dream. ALLELUIA!
Now, I invite all here to hold your hand toward our graduates as a gesture of blessing. Trinity Washington University is better for your presence among us. May the enduring Spirit of God’s love for you, of your own belief and profession of that faith, continue to sustain you. May you always remember that you are not alone, that God walks with you into your uniquely blessed futures. Take with you, the gift of PEACE.…Amen.Continue reading →Read comments (0) Add Comment
Voices of Trinity: Stories of Triumph and CourageMay 7, 2018
During the next several weeks leading up to Commencement, I will be featuring the stories of our outstanding students and graduates on this blog. Below are the stories of Trinity graduates in the Class of 2018 in their own words. I will keep adding stories as the days go by so if you are graduating and have a story to share, please send it to me on email email@example.com or you can add your story in the comment section below.
Brenda Alonso, B.A. Business Administration, International Affairs (CAS), Phi Beta Kappa
Hard work and dedication run in my veins, I am the living product of the struggle of my ancestors. My hard work has earned me the privilege to be a 2018 Phi Beta Kappa inductee. My four years of dedication and sacrifice as starter for the Trinity Washington University soccer team has earned me the title of the 2018 MVP for Trinity’s soccer team. The highest recognition that the department of Trinity Athletics gives to one athlete every year was also awarded to me, Trinity’s Director’s Award. The opportunities that Trinity has to offer are priceless, but only if a student is determined enough to excel in them. The first day I stepped into the beautiful campus of Trinity Washington University (Friday, August 15th 2014), I knew that the sacrifices of my parents and ancestors had been worth it. Since that very day, I ran with the priceless blessing of education and never looked back.
(Photo above: with Brenda Alonso at Phi Beta Kappa induction)
Who would have thought that a female immigrant from Mexico would have accomplished so much? In the eyes of many, I was supposed to be something they could look down upon. It still comes as a shock to many that I have found my voice when I wasn’t supposed to have one. Then there are those who have always inspired me to strive for greatness. My mother and father, the friends that have become family, the founders of the Dream.US, the inspirational men and women at Trinity, and every single soul that has treated me with true equality. To everyone who has helped me become the strong woman I am today, I owe all my accomplishments to.
Trinity changed my life. After four years at such an empowering institution I have developed into a very complete woman. The opportunities to intern for the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) have inspired me to dedicate my life to for a higher purpose, Social Justice. The opportunity to be captain of the soccer team for three years and represent Trinity at the NCAA careers in sports forum in Indianapolis, Indiana in 2017 has inspired me to use my passion for soccer as a tool to inspire other young women in sports to reach their dreams. The awards I have been recognized with at Trinity have reminded me that good deeds are both noticed and needed. Finally, the feeling of pride to say that I will be a graduating from Trinity Washington University on May 19th, 2018 with a double major in Business and International Affairs has proved to me that the result of integrity and dedication is success.
My name is Brenda Alonso and I will forever be grateful to God for putting me in the path that lead to Trinity Washington University. Forever and Ever, Go Tigers!
Kevin A. Bouknight, B.A. Human Relations (SPS)
August of 2012 began my career at Trinity Washington University. I never thought it would take seven years of time, blood, sweat, and tears, but it has been a very fulfilling journey. I was excited as any teenager, yet I was old enough to have teenage children. While I have been at Trinity, they have grown up and have graduated from college themselves. Their dad is the one lagging behind.
I spent many nights wondering what in the world I was doing. I thought I was too old for this. Some of my classes didn’t make sense, certainly not for someone who has seen half a century. I remember taking Adolescent Psychology and I asked the professor, “What do you think you can teach me? I’ve already raised two teens, a boy and a girl.” I will admit I was a bit disrespectful when I asked that, but by the end of the course, my classmates would ask me rather than the instructor. Even he asked me some things. What I learned is that experience can trump a textbook.
Now that I am a senior, I look back to my accomplishments. I have been featured on President McGuire’s blog. I have been published in The Record twice. I have been a student ambassador. I sang in the Gospel Choir. I reconnected with another student that I had gone to elementary school with. We’ve known each other longer than just about any CAS student has been living! Above all, I have made friends who will be my friends for the rest of my life. I will never regret my choosing Trinity Washington University.
Aminata Diarra, B.S. Accounting (SPS)
Five years ago (2013), while I was stopped at the bus stop of Trinity Washington University, waiting for my bus to come, I saw collegians leaving this beautiful building. I dreamed to see myself in this school, but at the same time was asking myself “How can I go to … a school like this, as an immigrant?” But no matter where you are from, your dreams are valid. I was given an opportunity to attend this school one year later, without knowing that it’s the same school that I had dreamed about. Since then, I have started to handle three full time jobs, school full-time, work full time and my 8 years old son as a single mom. I have been told me by some of friends, “You cannot,” but I said “Yes I can.” … You can do anything you set your mind to!!! The mere existence of an idea, desire and passion is proof that you are meant to push through and do everything in your power to bring them to fruition. Today I am so proud, no only about myself but about all those who helped to get through here. I didn’t commit it without you! Planning to pursue education through my CPA. Thank you, Allah. Thank you my Parents. THANK YOU LIFT-DC. Thank you my son, I won’t be able to make it without you, Mohamed.
Sadhana Singh, B.A. Communication (CAS), Phi Beta Kappa
Watch this video of a TED talk that Sadhana gave in March about her journey:
Brittany Dorsey, B.A. Human Relations (CAS)
For as long as I can remember, education has been a part of my identity. After I took a break from pursuing my degree previously, I promised myself that once I enrolled in college again, I would never stop, until I reached graduation. My journey at Trinity has been one that I am both grateful and proud to have experienced. I cried, I complained, but most importantly, I continued. While it has been a constant juggling act, being a single mom, working full-time, and attending school full-time, I have somehow managed to pick up the ball each time I dropped it. I am inexplicably appreciative of my professors and my entire support system, because this was truly a labor of love. I would be doing my two sons a huge disservice if I selfishly claimed that I have achieved this goal on my own, as they have been my biggest motivation. After all, they made me a mom. The least I could do is make them proud. I will be going on to turn my passion into my profession, studying at the University of Maryland’s school of Social Work in the fall.
Ashley Cannon, B.A. Community Education (CAS)
I started Trinity in August 2013 right after I graduated high school. I enrolled into Trinity with hesitation and fear because I didn’t know what to expect financially or academically from college. Since my freshman year I have received undying support from the Trinity staff and more specifically my professors and counselors. They have supported and influenced my decision in choosing my career path throughout the years. Meanwhile I was working to pay for tuition, books, and transportation. My fourth year at Trinity, I was diagnosed with diabetes, hospitalized for a ear infection, and riddled with personal issues that affected my mental state of mind. Throughout all of my struggles, I didn’t take a break from school. I kept going and that was because of the unwavering support from Trinity’s staff. I am pleased to announce that I MADE IT! With God on my side, I am graduating with more confidence in who I am and the impact I can make on the next generation. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4.
Chyna Branch, B.A. Sociology (CAS)
I am a first generation college graduate. I was born into a low income family and realized early on how important it is to do enough to get ahead versus do enough to just get by. Over the course of my studies at Trinity, I have completed a rigorous amount of community service hours, actively participated in all of my classes and even turned an unpaid internship into a full-time position. Even with my busy academic and work schedule, I have been serving as a primary caretaker for grandmother and younger sister, making sure to always pave the way and set a positive example regardless of the many challenges I was facing. My resilience has come from the influence of my grandmother and late aunt, and motivation from my younger sister. Over the course of my college journey, I have faced so many adversities. Regardless, I chose to persevere and allow adversity to be my professor. I plan to use my degree to create a career based on philanthropic values to help guide and empower young urban youth with all the tools they need to pull themselves up out of poverty and change the narrative. The time is now!
Kaneshia House, B.A. Communication (CAS)
When I was in the process of applying to college, I couldn’t believe it. I applied to a lot of schools and Trinity was the only school that sent me my information in time after being accepted through an on-site admissions interview. My 5 year journey here at Trinity has been a long road. There were times when I felt that I could meet the standards that my mom expected of me. I want to thank everyone who has been a constant support system to me. My teachers, advisors but most importantly God and my family. My mom has always pushed me to do my best and never to give up. With her love and guidance, I will be her first child to graduate college. After graduation, I plan on working full-time as a Youth Health Educator at Whitman Walker Health. Thank You Trinity for preparing me for life after college and thank you to my family for always supporting my dreams and keeping me on a steady path of success.
Janell Lacie Pruitt, M.A. Strategic Communication and Public Relations (BGS)
My name is Janell Lacie Pruitt and I am graduating May 19th with a masters in Strategic Communications and Public Relations. I chose to go to Trinity to receive my Master’s degree because during my journey to receive my Bachelors in Communication, I attended an all-girls school in North Carolina that equipped me with many tools to succeed professionally and personally. Although attending another all-girls school was not expected by family and friends, I knew I needed the support and love that comes with a school such as Trinity.
Currently I work at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as a program analyst in the Recovery Directorate front office. My day to day consist of drafting responses to media inquiries, responding to congressional inquiries, and inquiries from disaster survivors regarding our disaster relief programs.
We are all aware that the 2017 hurricane season proved to be one of the most catastrophic to date. The season produced 17 named storms of which 10 became hurricanes (six of those major)-including the first two major hurricanes to hit the continental U.S. in 12 years. There were millions of families affected and many are still recovering. During this time I worked 12 hour nights for weeks straight to assist disaster survivors with recovery efforts, all while attending class twice a week from 6:30-10p p.m. This is where my decision to attend Trinity proved to be the right one. Many of my classmates and professors were supportive and offered me their help, something I know I would not have received from a larger school. Although this time was physically and mentally existing, Trinity’s community helped me in ways that I will forever be grateful for.
Upon graduation I will take on more of a communications role for the whole directorate. This includes proving the Assistant Administrator of Recovery with a plan to better engage with our employees, as well as communicate externally to stakeholders our goals and objectives for 2018 hurricane season and beyond. During my time in this program I have learned many tactics, theories, and professional skills that will help me with executing this plan.
I can truly say that this program has not only prepared me for my role as a professional, but has introduced me to many lifelong friends. Graduating with a 3.6 GPA (will be higher after finals), being inducted into the Lambda Pi Eta communications honor society, and being invited to Trinity’s board luncheon are just a few of my highlights at Trinity. I hope to start my own Image consulting and public relations firm, something that I have always wanted to do but didn’t receive the inspiration to until I came to Trinity. This is a new chapter in my life that I am more than excited to encounter and I have Trinity to thank for that.
Abimbola Kuti, M.S.A. Public and Community Health (BGS)
I may not be a Dreamer but I am a lady with a dream. It was my burning desire as a lady in the city of Lagos, Nigeria, to solve global issues around in the world and meet the needs of my community but I never could fathom how that would be a reality and so I felt burdened, unfulfilled and in despair. It was more like there was a missing piece, and then I struggled to make a meaning of what I felt. I began some soul-searching. Mine was a search for purpose, a search for fulfillment. My dreams began to take shape when I was accepted into Trinity Washington University to study Public and Community Health. I can say that Trinity has not only equipped me with the tools for advocacy and program planning but has also shown me the path to recognizing career opportunities in whatever form. Today, I attend international conferences where I have taken part as a delegate. I have discovered my strength, and I am not afraid to leave my comfort zone to achieve my dream. With my degree, I hope to be involved with international organizations where I would be privileged to solve the needs of children and women around the world. I am also grateful for the community of sisters who were not only classmates but more than a friend. They taught me the importance of lifting one another up.
Joanne Paylor, A.A. ’15, B.A. General Studies (SPS)
The decision to return to college was not an easy one to make. Returning to college shows resilience. During the month of August, 2012, I began my start at Trinity Washington University at THEARC. I received my Associates of Arts degree in 2015. After receiving my AA degree from THEARC, I ventured to Main Campus to pursue my BA degree. During my college experience at Trinity, I met many diverse students and we became friends, being born and raised in Washington, DC. I was extremely overwhelmed by the openness, and inspiration we shared through learning at Trinity. I was already sold to the life of education. From the very beginning of my educational experience at Trinity Washington University my heart was set on receiving a Master’s Degree. I just love learning, and being a part of the establishment of education. Education is never ending to me, as are we that pursue it with an insatiable hunger to grow. It took clustering, brainstorming, questions, soul searching, and a lot of tears to accomplish my goals. During my career a Trinity I was given the opportunity to serve on the Student Advisory Council. Civilizations have been built and destroyed because of education; it has helped those that really wanted to see more than just what was in front of them. Education has been important to me since I was a child in elementary school. I will be graduating as a senior on Commencement day of May 18, 2018 with my BA degree in General Studies. I would like to thank ALL the advisors and professors for an outstanding job well done. I am a single mother of four grown adults of whom I am very proud. My only son and youngest daughter both are graduates. My son is CEO of “Models Inc.” number one in the DMV. Choreographed “Remy Ma’s video, and worked with others such as “Trina” Niki Manaj stylist, 106 & Park “New Year’s Final Show” to name a few. Yes, I’m proud. My other two adults are working, no complaints. It has been truly a journey. Again, thank you for an awesome and proactive team at Trinity for pushing me forward when I was depressed about the many losses in my family circle. The wonderful team at Trinity taught me as we are never too old to learn, that “God got you” his angels surround you night and day, guiding you through the trials and tribulations life brings forth. Not to mention, my mom who never had a chance to further her education, because of the large family obligations and being the oldest daughter of eight siblings, this is for her, especially. In closing, I want to thank my father in heaven. AMEN.
Brian Herbert Pitts, B.A. Psychology (SPS)
Bernice and Herbert Pitts never attended college, but dreamed that I, their only child, would become a college graduate. In 1996, I was awarded the opportunity to earn a college degree while on a full academic scholarship. But I did not finish, because I was selfish, lost focus, and was consumed by pride. I was not ready.
Fast forward to 2015. I had realized I would never fulfill my potential unless I completed my undergraduate education. I had learned that I was created and set apart by God for His purpose and for the benefit of others. I was ready to start again, but was I ready to finish? Unsure, I started my Trinity career by taking one class. Before the end of 2016, I was a full-time student and employed by Trinity part-time to serve as a tutor for my peers.
At times during my Trinity career, I have momentarily wanted to quit, thereby leaving my parents’ dream unrealized. But according to Psalms 37:23-25 of The Holy Bible, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand. I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.”
Thanks to the grace, love, and mercy of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and the love and support of my natural, Trinity, and From the Heart Church families, I am now a magna cum laude graduate of Trinity Washington University! I am grateful that my parents are alive to see their dream fulfilled. I am ready to begin the next stage of my journey, which includes attending graduate school for social work and law school, so that I am better equipped to help those who are vulnerable, marginalized, and oppressed.
Andrea Pinillos, B.A. International Affairs (CAS)
Perseverance and dedication defines my life struggles that I had to overcome with much patience and hopefulness for a better day ahead. Since I came from Peru in the early 2000’s I knew that the United States could offer my family and I better opportunities. After I finished high school I did not know what the future ahead would be like, being a Dreamer became my only hope to succeed in U.S. Thanks to many kind hearts and God I was able to accomplish my long dream.
I always believe that education is the key to success, thanks to Trinity Washington University and TheDream.US which gave me the opportunity to become a professional career woman. I am eternally grateful to God for the extraordinary professors at Trinity, that dedicate their lives to their students to adequately prepare them for their future careers. Additionally, I am currently interning for the second time at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, in the Department of Cultural Diversity of the Church. Being able to work for the Catholic Church has always been one of my dreams since my faith is a very important part of my life. During my time at Trinity I was elected for two honor society Sigma lotaRho the national Honor Society in International Studies, and Phi Alpha Theta the National History Honor Society. Graduating as an International Affairs major with double minoring in Political Science and Culture and Language will be one of my most valuable life achievements that I have ever attained.
Oluremi Akinyeye, M.A.T. Early Childhood Education (EDU)
I was inspired to pursue a career in education when, as a parent, I saw how paramount the influence of an educator can be in the life of children of all ages. I began teaching preschool at a DCPS school before I began my graduate studies at Trinity. My first year was not very successful. I was blessed to find Trinity’s graduate program and have made leaps and bounds since then! Each week, I would take the work I learned in class and utilize it with my students the next day. As a result of the stellar education I received at Trinity, I have continued to improve my technique and practices, evidenced by my upward mobility on the DCPS IMPACT assessment system. During my matriculation at Trinity, my passion for education has included significant work in social justice and early learning advocacy. My goal is to bring world-class educational opportunities and resources to marginalized groups, attempt to close the 30,000 word gap, and pull children out of the school-to-prison pipeline. Additionally, I will continue to promote and advocate for the importance of early education, especially early literacy. I’d like to thank my family for their continued support, the professors and staff at Trinity, and a special thank you to Dr. Steen who’s guidance and expertise is both inspirational and invaluable.
Ariana Jenai Flentroy, B.A. Psychology (CAS)
Attending school and receiving good grades was always my passion; however, after my mother died that all changed. My dream of becoming a college graduate seemed distant and a comment made by my high school counselor made my dream seem impossible. I will always remember sitting in his office to discuss my future, however, the conversation turned from feeling hopeful to complete hopelessness. Without hesitation, my counselor turned to look at me and in his deep voice he said “Miss Flentroy, you will not succeed in college.” My heart sank, his words began to repeat in my head but something in my heart resisted his words, and I got up from my chair and politely told him that he was wrong. That day I cried because I thought my dream was destroyed by eight simple words. Those words always stuck with me and I continued to doubt myself. After two years of community college, I applied to transfer to a four-year university, as one could imagine, I was nervous. Nevertheless to say, working hard in community college paid off and I received acceptance letters to all of the schools I applied to. I made the best decision of my college career when I decided to move from my hometown, Oakland, California to Washington, DC to attend Trinity Washington University for Fall 2015. I am forever grateful that Trinity accepted me because attending Trinity changed my life. There were bumps in the road and I was pushed to my fullest potential. However, looking back on my accomplishments at Trinity, I am proud to say that I made the Dean’s List three semesters. I was also inducted into 2018 Psi Chi Honor Society, and what I am most proud of is my last semester GPA of a 3.83. My journey is only beginning and I am hopeful and excited for my future. I would like to say thank you to my family, friends, professors, my mother (Rest in Peace), my dad, my sister Layla Zaid, my aunt Jasmine Pennix and especially to the two people that pushed me more than I pushed myself, my sister Dr. Shakila Flentroy & Rockelle Morris. I will always and forever be a Trinity woman!
Darlin Ayala-Reyes, B.A. Criminal Justice (CAS)
Hard Working, determined, and persistent, are some of many strengths I have discovered about myself at Trinity University. Successfully completed a B.A. Criminal Justice in 3.5 years while balancing studies with significant work and family responsibilities. Since the first semester I always worked hard and never gave up on my dreams. In Fall 2014 I had the opportunity to start working on my dream at Trinity Washington University. I am grateful for the Dream.US and Trinity because they provided me the opportunity I was waiting for. Trinity professors and my Trinity sisters were important because without their support it wouldn’t have been possible to achieve my education. It was not easy but I was persistent and never gave up. It was significantly important for me to achieve a higher education because I want to make a difference in my community. Being a role model for my son has been a priority because I want him to be inspired. Today I am proud to say that I am the first family member to graduate from a university. Words are not enough to explain how proud I feel of my successful accomplishment. Through strategic course planning and hard work, I successfully completed well ahead of schedule my degree. It’s an honor to be a Trinity alumna because amazing powerful women surround me. At the end, all of the hard work and commitment has paid off.
Miracle N. Proctor, B.A. Human Relations (CAS)
My journey at Trinity Washington University started in the year of 2013. In the beginning, college was at first a new journey for me to start but I was ready. I had no idea of what I was getting myself into, but I knew whatever it took, I was going to become someone in life better than my old self. When I first arrived here, I had my mind set on being a pediatric doctor, but that changed due to numerous classes I was taking and new things I was learning daily. Now as a senior, I will be receiving my bachelor’s degree in Human Relations Saturday May 19th; class of 2018. With my degree I plan on becoming a medical social worker. It has always been my dream of helping others and spreading change amongst others. Reflecting on my life as being the only child to a single parent, I am glad I decided to further my education after high school because my mother never had the opportunity to go to college herself and because I saw it was more to life than just a high school diploma. Within my years at Trinity, nothing was peaches and cream, in which the workload sometimes was heavy and draining, working three part time jobs off campus while completing work study at Trinity as a writing tutor, also battling with personal problems at home, but somehow I managed it all and realized my strengths to overcome everything I was going through. My biggest motivation was my mother whom always supported me and encouraged me to stay focused on what it was I wanted in life. By her being a single parent, it was my obligation to finish college and make her proud. And now I can finally say to her, “Mommy I did it and I made you proud”. I will also like to thank God because he was there when I thought he wasn’t and made everything possible for me today. Now that my undergrad journey has come to a closure, I know my journey of life doesn’t stop here. A new chapter is now waiting to begin. And I am more than excited to start. For the new comers that attend Trinity, I will like to leave a word of advice in which I would say, always dream big and go for what you want no matter what challenges you may face because nothing in life worth having comes easy.
Brittany Hodges, M.B.A. (BGS)
I began the path towards obtaining a Masters of Business Administration at Trinity Washington University in January of 2016. With feelings of excitement and nervousness all in one, I contemplated how I was going to manage working full-time, attend classes twice a week until 10 p.m. and still coach my cheerleading team, attend games, and competitions. The courses were challenging and pushed me out of my comfort zone while forcing me to think outside of the norm. Professors were strict with tight deadlines but brought a wealth of knowledge. There were a lot of restless nights and long weekends but it was worth every moment. I owe a lot to those in my circle and support system!
One of my biggest take-a-ways is the network that I have built among my cohort and Professors. My journey at Trinity has been one that I am extremely proud of and I am grateful that I am able to take the things that I have learned and incorporate them into the workplace. Needless to say, I was able to do it ALL and managed to start Adrnas Solutions, LLC., a Woman-Owned Small Business that focuses on managing and developing projects ranging from Financial Services, IT services and Communications for government agencies. Within six months of starting my business, I have been able to utilize my network and knowledge from Trinity Washington University and land my first two work orders as the Deputy Project Manager at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Assets Sales Office and as a Senior Financial Analyst with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), Office of Credit Risk Management. I am excited to embark on this new journey and I am honored to be recognized as a Trinity Washington Alumna.
Alexus Bankston, B.A. Communication (CAS)
Coming to Trinity in August 2014 was one of my the best things that ever happened to me, I always wanted to know what did “Discover your strengths” means. So begin a first-year student I jump right into volunteering at Christ House on Tuesdays and Capital Area Food Bank on Fridays, I enjoyed volunteering and giving back to my community I received that gift from my Mother. August 2016 I started my junior year at Trinity, a week before I moved back on campus I lost my mother to ovarian cancer, during that whole semester I was depressed and felt alone. Many nights I would cry myself to sleep in Kerby Hall and I isolated myself sometimes. However, I managed to continue going to all of my classes and completing my assignments because I knew that my mother would not have want me to take a semester off. Many people told me to take a semester off and cope with the loss of my mother but I knew that her spirit was right by my side through it all. I am happy that I am graduating on-time and I truly when out with a bang, I finished my senior year with a 3.8 G.P.A and I always say “A Trinity Woman Never Gives Up”
Tangie L. White, M.A. Clinical Mental Health Counseling (EDU)
Langston Hughes in one of his poems once asked, “What happens to a dream deferred?” During the fall semester when the request was made for stories from graduates to be posted on the blog, knowing that I only had one semester left, I began to give some thought to what I would say. I came up with nothing. I went back and forth with myself over and over again. Fast forward to this semester when the request was made, I still had nothing, and made the decision that I would not write anything. Today, as I sit in my office with tears in my eyes in a pensive mood, just four days from having a Master’s of Arts degree conferred with a 3.95 GPA, I have something to say. Choosing to attend Trinity, and having them choose me has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. I enrolled at Trinity as a non-traditional student, and walked in with a knapsack of trepidation. My first semester here, after being out of school for so long and looking at all of the young faces, reminded me of an undergraduate Advisor from another local University. During my prior course of study at that school, it was suggested that I look into another profession because I lacked the strength to prevent burnout in the field that I had chosen. I was told that I would probably not be successful because at nineteen, it would be hard trying to juggle my one year old son, and the demands of a social work career. After many courses here at Trinity with the many competent professors, I have learned that I am exactly what the “helping profession” needs. I am able to be touched, and allow myself to feel the infirmities of others who have been held back and beaten down by the social injustices that plagued the community. I am here to give voice, and a safe place to those that are underprivileged and under-served and feel they have nowhere left to turn. You see I too, at one point, was an under-served and underprivileged youth here in this city. As I age, I no longer remember all of the things that I did not have, or the names of the teachers who showed up for work every day, but appeared not to care. What I can say without a doubt is that I will always remember the adults such as Mrs. Lane (my 3rd grade teacher), Mrs. Smith (Junior High counselor), my mother (who gave all that she had to give), and all of the other adults who showed up and cared for me as I was in search of who I am.
Discovering my strength here at Trinity has helped me to see that I may not solve all the problems that exist, nor, will I always have the answers to a problem. I now have the fortitude to approach situations and people with a clarity and understanding that something may exist that requires my empathy. My story may not resonate with many of you, but it is mine. It is one of a personal triumph and perseverance. It is another chapter in the book of my life, and another rung on the climb to a dream deferred.
So what happens to a dream deferred? You continue to search and chase after it because it is always waiting to be discovered. It is yours, and no one else’s. It will lie dormant and occasionally check in with you to see if you are ready to go. This is what happened to my dream deferred. Come on dream! Let’s go! We are just getting started.
Minnie Barnes, B.A. Business Administration (CAS)
“I am fearless towards failure” has always been my motto since senior year of high school and it helped get me in and through college. As a young black girl from Southeast DC, I had to jump, dodged, roll, and tumble over a lot of hurdles. I’ve always been ambitious and eager to succeed but I never truly understood the meaning of fearless until I started Trinity Fall 2014. I built the confidence to advocate for what I believe in politically, socially, and economically. Also, I’m able to solve complex business problems thanks to courses such as International Business and Organizational Theories. I will apply this knowledge and confidence in my future career and education. On May 19th, I will be graduating cum laude with a B.A. in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance & Accounting and a minor in Economics. Leaving Trinity, I am starting my career at one of the big four accounting firms; Deloitte Consulting. I was nervous about going into a dominant male industry, but with the skills I gained here at Trinity, I know I can compete against the best! I’m aware of my strengths and weakness but I now know how to apply my strengths, and I learned ways to improve my weaknesses. I am fearless not in spite of but because of the obstacles I faced and overcame. My new inner confidence and unbreakable spirit is what drives me to soar and is the fuel to my success.
Tyrell Dale, M.S.A. Educational Leadership (EDU)
Starting in my early years, I immediately had to mature quickly to maintain a safe home environment for myself, younger cousins and sickly grandmother. Not coming from your typical household, I unfortunately did not have an influential male figure to look up to, so I rebelled during my childhood years. As a result of changing multiple schools due to my behavioral issues and absences, I one day realized I had to make a change for myself. Four years ago, after receiving my undergraduate degree from Delaware State University, I had no desire to enroll into a Master’s program. To receive two degrees was just an underlining thought of mine, until I found Trinity Washington University. I enrolled in the university’s twenty-month Educational Administration program and got accepted. Not only did the university set a dream for me to believe in, it provided me with things far beyond my imagination. Towards the conclusion of the program, I found it has helped me grow professionally and personally as I prepare myself to become a school leader. The program instilled a framework that enhanced my understanding of ways to improve and support the quality of education for schools, staff, students and families. I learned how to advocate for others and trust that my philosophy of education will create change. I increased my knowledge of different academic content areas and skills such as critical thinking, communication, technology literacy and collaboration across departments. Throughout the program, I poured my heart and soul into my work and applied my beliefs. I recognized that I must talk less and listen more and not step into particular solutions too quickly. Lastly, without my cohort members I would not have made it to be the passionate and authentic leader that schools seek for. Their guidance and support expressed all characteristics of teamwork, trust and loyalty. After I obtain my master’s degree in Educational Administration, I will take the School Leader Licensure Assessment (SLLA). For the near future, I aspire to open up my own school called Precious Little Hands. I thank Trinity Washington University for all of the things it provided me with, they will follow with me life-long.
Summer Davis, B.A. Human Relations (CAS)
The household I grew up in, education was extremely important; sometimes getting good grades and doing your work was looked down upon by others: being called a nerd and getting made fun of for taking your education serious. I went to college right after high school. I tried the away from home thing, but it did not work for me; I could not take being away from my mother. I transferred, from Delaware State University, to Trinity after taking a semester off. The application process was simple, and their response was quick. Going into Trinity, I did not know what to expect, because it was an all-girls school. When I came to Trinity, I felt accepted and like I was not alone. I was put into the Honors program because of my high school performance. The advisors and teachers were so supportive; especially my advisor since I was a freshman, Dr. Gable. There were so many times I wanted to give up, because I felt like I could not handle it; I had nights crying and debating on if I should continue, but I am glad I did. I managed to overcome everything that was meant to break me down: physically, academically, and emotionally. I am finally able to say that I MADE IT! I am taking my degree and doing everything I dreamt of; NO ONE can take that from me. I will take every opportunity I am given and go from there. No matter how hard it gets, you must keep going. No matter how many people try to discourage you, keep going. I want to thank everyone who was on this journey with me and there to lend a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on; my family and friends that were supportive. But always remember this is YOUR life, follow your dreams. I am going hard for everything and proving some people’s stereotypical views that black girls from SE Washington DC or black girls period cannot amount to anything. I JUST PROVED YOU ALL WRONG! I will not live up to the stereotypes, and it is only up from here.Continue reading →Read comments (2) Add Comment
Nerd Prom Needs a ChaperoneApril 29, 2018
(Michelle Wolf at the White House Correspondents Dinner photo credit)
If you hang around Washington as long as I have, you get invited to many event — dinners, receptions, meetings, conventions, trade shows — many of which take place at the same group of 4-5 hotels large enough to hold a big crowd. The ballrooms of these hotels become so familiar that they begin to feel reminiscent of the old high school gym at prom time, with alpha males and females all decked out in their party clothes air kissing casual friends all the while looking over shoulders to see if anybody famous or at least more important is in the room. The scene is complete with some of us wall flowers who prefer to sit along the sides of the room wondering if we are under-dressed in sensible fancy jackets and flat shoes while also wondering how anyone can walk in stilettos.
The only thing missing is the gym balcony where the chaperones kept a watchful eye to prevent things from getting really out of hand. In my high school, that would have been Sister Juanita, eagle-eye watching the throng below and ready to pounce without warning should any behaviors fall below her rather high standards for decorum.
The White House Correspondents’ Dinner (#WHCD) needs Sister Juanita. The “nerd prom” as the cool kids seem to call it, the event is a black-tie-and-stiletto evening of dining and drinking among journalists and the politicians they cover, a questionable premise to begin with, all somehow supposedly tied together for the good purpose of raising money for journalism scholarships along with a dubious sideshow of roasting both the pols and the scribes.
Apparently, this year’s #WHCD got a bit out of hand, depending on which critique you read, or your take on comedian Michelle Wolf’s “roast” jokes. She said the kind of unkind things about White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway that would definitely have incurred a week’s worth of Sr. Juanita’s detention back-in-the-day because no matter how much you might dislike someone — or disagree with their politics — it’s just not right to make fun of their appearance or wish harm to come to them.
I was not at the dinner (but full disclosure, I was at one of the receptions before the dinner), so did not hear the jokes “live,” but I saw the video afterward. One take can be, oh, c’mon, it’s just jokes! But on the other hand, in these fractious times, some things just are not funny.
Which gets to my point: at a dinner supposedly devoted to celebrating freedom of the press — and at a time when that very freedom is under daily attack by President Trump and his allies — the press should not squander its vital voice and critical role as a counterweight to government by sloshing around in the mud pit of insults and vicious personal attacks. As Sister Juanita often said, just because you have the freedom to do it doesn’t mean you should do it. In fact, prudence and maturity suggest you should not, given the current ugly political circumstances of our nation.
We are in a political moment that is about as dangerous as possible. A demagogue is the president, and he thinks nothing of trashing anyone who disagrees with him. Trump calls people names routinely, he lies constantly, he encourages racial and ethnic hatred, he foments violence. He did all of that at a rally in Michigan on the same night as the #WHCD. He is systematically stripping our nation of protections for vulnerable people, for people who have come to depend on civil rights protections, on healthcare access, on humane practices on immigration and refugees. He is promoting a return to policies and practices that are environmentally disastrous. He is virtually destroying the State Department while engaging in some kind of international theater that has the potential to go very wrong. He has created the cruelest, most inhumane and unhinged administration ever in American history.
We don’t need a comedian mocking Trump’s staff when we need to use our precious freedoms to call out the real threats to our way of life.
I disagree with just about everything Press Secretary Sanders and White House Counselor Conway say. But the White House Correspondents’ Association made a serious strategic error by allowing them to be mocked so personally at the dinner. Disagree vigorously, but do not disparage.
Why not? Doesn’t Trump disparage everyone who disagrees with him? Doesn’t Sanders display only contempt for the press at her daily briefings? Doesn’t Conway spin the truth in ways that makes your head hurt? Yes, indeed, but the worst possibly response is to get down on that same level and behave in that same way, hurling insults back, going tit-for-tat, nanny-nanny-boo-boo. That’s just like high school. That’s why the Nerd Prom needs a chaperone. Somebody has to start being the grown up in this country.Continue reading →Read comments (1) Add Comment
“Be A Nuisance Where It Counts”April 23, 2018
Pope Francis never met Marjory Stoneman Douglas, the intrepid environmentalist and defender of the Everglades in Florida, but if they had a chance to converse, they surely would have found much common ground in their fierce advocacy for Mother Earth. Unfortunately, the world came to know Douglas through the terrible tragedy of gun violence at the high school in Parkland, Florida that bears her name. In a sadly ironic way, the great loss of life in the Parkland shooting is the appalling consequence of what the Pope calls our “throw-away culture” in which everything, including human life, seems easily disposable because of selfish interests that defy the essential morality of care for the common good.
Political attitudes that think nothing of selling off the wilderness for corporate gain also defend the mindless acquisition of assault rifles as some kind of weird manifestation of freedom. It’s not. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Governance in a free society should be all about protecting everyone’s right to life, since without that first and most fundamental protection, we cannot enjoy our freedom. Freedom does not mean that I have the right to acquire as much as I want at the expense of everyone else. Rather, freedom means that we all work together cooperatively and with a shared vision to build a society rooted in fairness and justice for all, and in that kind of Good Society we can enjoy great freedom.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas urged her students to, “Be a nuisance where it counts.” Pope Francis seems to take that good advice to a new level, particularly on topics that truly irritate politicians who wish he would just be quiet, like the rights of immigrants, care for the poor, and environmental justice.
In the opening paragraphs of his magnificent 2015 encyclical Laudato Si, Pope Francis states the moral case for environmental justice quite clearly:
“Our Sister, Mother Earth, …. cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she “groans in travail” (Rom 8:22). We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth (cf. Gen 2:7); our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters. Nothing in this world is indifferent to us.”
Scott Pruitt, the chief administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, obviously has not read, or does not care about, the words of Pope Francis and the fundamental teachings of the Catholic Church on “care for God’s creation,” one of the seven tenets of Catholic social teaching. While Secretary Pruitt is not Catholic, he does profess to be “pro-life” but his policies and political positions on environmental protection are a direct affront to the preservation of human life and all life on this planet. While Pruitt has been embroiled in a breathtaking array of scandals, any one of which would nullify his appointment in any other administration, the real scandal of Pruitt’s continuing appointment is not his excessive greed and self-dealing, but rather, the many ways in which he is systematically destroying environmental protections.
Pruitt is a notorious climate change denier, has made “climate science” a dirty phrase at the EPA, and scientists are leaving the agency in record numbers. He has replaced scientists on advisory boards with industry representatives. Among the many damaging reversals of environmental protections he is leading at the behest of President Trump, some of the most damning include relaxation of rules requiring companies (oil, gas, power,automobile manufacturers, e.g.) to act to protect the environment by controlling the flow of harmful toxins from their products into the air and water; permitting offshore drilling and opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for drilling, reduction of protected lands at Bears Ears in Utah to allow more development, and perhaps worst of all, withdrawal from the Paris Accords that are the global community’s most important commitment to saving this planet. He appointed Susan Combs, a vocal opponent of the Endangered Species Act, as the Interior Department Secretary of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. How can somebody who opposes protection for fish and wildlife even agree to take such a position? The moral vacuum of such decisions is appalling.
“We can be silent witnesses to terrible injustices if we think we can obtain significant benefits by making the rest of humanity, present and future, play the extremely high costs of environmental deterioration.” (Laudato Si #36)
Law and policy forcing actions to protect the environment have actually proven effective over the last half century. Bald eagles are one example of a species restored after coming close to extinction. The Potomac River is getting closer to being safe for swimming. The Chesapeake Bay is showing signs of restoration after years of decline. And yet, with all the signs of progress, the current administration would return this nation and our planet to a time when the rivers and bays were more polluted, the air less breathable, the forests destroyed to build more shopping plazas and condos. Rolling back the clock on environmental protection will never make America great again, and in fact, it will hasten the destruction of the entire planet. Global climate change is real, and the consequences in droughts, wildfires, floods, increasingly violent hurricanes and destructive weather patterns are all a harbinger of a grim future if we allow climate science deniers to continue to hold office.
“I urgently appeal…for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all…We require a new and universal solidarity…All of us can cooperate as instruments of god for the care of creation, each according to his or her own culture, experience, involvements and talents.” — Pope Francis, #14 in the Encyclical Letter Laudato Si, On Care for our Common Home
Let’s make sure that every day is Earth Day. Be that nuisance for what is right. Insist that our government officials act with moral sensibility in doing what is necessary and essential to ensure environmental protection as a matter of justice not only for ourselves, but to ensure that future generations will be able to enjoy the fullness of human life and all life on our small planet.
TRINITY STUDENT GOVERNMENT IS HOSTING A SCREENING OF “RIVER BLUE” ON THURSDAY AT 6:30 PM
SGA President Gabrielle Clary writes: River Blue is a film about the fashion industry’s impact on our water resources. We are working with Fashion Revolution and Free the Slaves, two non-profit organizations that focus on human rights and environmental sustainability. After the film, there will be a panel discussion. The panel includes two reps from the World Bank, a DC government rep , and an Anacostia River historian. If you have time in your day on Thursday feel free to come to Social Hall to join the event. The flyer is below. If you know of any other guests that would like to come, the link to RSVP is also attached below.
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