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President's Office | Remarks: New CAS Students, 2007

Remarks for New Trinity Students
Trinity College of Arts and Sciences

August 27, 2007

“I am the Artist of My Life … the Director of My Future”

Greetings to all new students! In this, Trinity’s 110th year, we are so pleased to welcome this remarkable new group of first year students and upperclass transfer students who are joining our Trinity community in great number today in the College of Arts and Sciences. Indeed, this is one of our largest groups of new students ever, certainly the largest since the late 1960’s, surpassing even last year’s total which held that title until today.

You are coming to college today at a time of great opportunity for you personally, and great peril in our world. You are here to learn how to become great citizen leaders of a world whose inhabitants need your talent, your wisdom, your values and your passionate commitment to justice.

Perilous global conditions demand all of the talent you can muster. Economic markets are roiling as easy credit and spending sprees have left investors and homeowners stressed and unable to meet their obligations. The price of oil is on a roller coaster, spiking and dropping with the seasons, storms in the gulf, wars in the Middle East, or the whims of the public and private leaders of business and government who really control prices. The War in Iraq is a tragedy without end, while here at home the presidential campaign of 2008 is already in full swing — an election that is perhaps the most critical yet in our history, also seeming right now to be one of the most chaotic. You are arriving in college in the capital of the free world just in time to participate in this new election cycle, and, believe me, we need your full engagement to bring sense to it all. Whatever party you prefer, whatever your political views, whomever you support as a presidential candidate — our expectation of you as Trinity Women is to respect all political views, to be fully engaged with the political process, and to vote in every election.

In calling you to full political engagement, we are mindful of Trinity’s long and strong tradition of women’s leadership in the public square. We celebrate our graduates who have taken on some of the toughest leadership positions women have ever held — Nancy Pelosi, Class of 1962, who is the Speaker of the House of the United States, the highest ranking elected position ever held by a woman, Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, Class of 1970, the first woman governor of Kansas, a Democrat in one of the most Republican states in America, a real bipartisan leader.

We have many other women leaders in our Alumnae Association and right here on campus, and you will meet as many of them as you can make it your business to meet — we’re all part of the vast Trinity Women’s Network and every single one of us wants to help you to reach your dreams.

You have many dreams. You come to Trinity with boundless hopes and zeal for the bright future that you will have with this excellent education. You know that education will make a great difference in your lives. You are a remarkably diverse group but you come together as women on the move, people with the drive and determination to succeed.

Each year on opening day, I share a profile of the entering class of new students. This is not a data profile, that will come later. Rather, this is a sociological, intellectual and spiritual profile. How can I create this, having just met you? You shared a great deal about yourselves already on the pages of your college applications and your admissions essays. I will be quoting from those essays in this talk — anonymously, since I have not had a chance to ask your permission to quote you. Thank you in advance for allowing me to lift up your writing as a vital part of the mosaic of Trinity Women through the ages.

Trinity believes deeply in ‘Education for Global Leadership,’ our slogan under our logo, and you come to Trinity with a vast world view.

You are women of the world, coming to Trinity with life experience from these nations:

Dominican Republic
El Salvador
Sierra Leone

You speak many languages including:

Broken English

You have come from these states and cities in the United States:

New Jersey
District of Columbia
Pennsylvania ‘ Philadelphia and Pittsburgh
Massachusetts — Boston
New York — City, Bronx, Upstate
St. Louis, Missouri
North Carolina
Omaha, Nebraska

You are one of the largest classes in Trinity’s history.

You are here with the same hopes and dreams, aspirations and goals as the thousands of women who marched down the Marble Corridor before you.

And yet, you are as different, even unique, as any group of women we have ever greeted.

You have grown up in times of terrorism and war.

For you, the concept of global climate change is not only today’s reality but tomorrow’s great challenge.

Your generation has never known a time without’.

‘ the World Wide Web
‘ Rap and Hip Hop
‘ war in the Middle East
‘ bottled water, Diet Coke, pizza delivery
‘ someone named Bush or Clinton in the White House

You have come into young adulthood in the long tragic shadow of September 11.

You take for granted’

‘ personal computers
‘ cell phones
‘ instant messaging
‘ myspace, facebook, etc.
‘ women’s rights at work and in the political arena

You want to major in’

International Affairs
Criminal Justice
Social Work
Political Science
Human Relations

You have enjoyed an impressive array of co-curricular activities in high school including:

Muslim Youth Group
Computer club
Track & Field
Gospel Choir
Model UN
Performing Arts
Student Government
Girl Scouts
Amnesty International
Mock Trial
Step Team

In your essays you expressed a great desire to help people all over the world. Some of this deep desire arises from your personal experience.

You want to bring medical help to suffering people in Africa:

[NOTE: All quotations from student essays are in italics, and each paragraph represents the work of a different student writer.]

I want to open medical centers throughout Africa where many AIDS and cancer victims suffer silently alone. With the help of the village and the families of patients I plan to build cooperative clinics. Those centers will be supplied with the best technology in treating Cancer and AIDS for absolutely free. If the centers are successful my ultimate goal would be to expand them into other countries…

All my life, I have dreamt of helping patients who require much attention and genuine care. I want to become a nurse so that I can fulfill this dream’ I am originally from Ghana ‘ where hospital equipment and facilities are inadequate. There is a shortage of doctors and nurses as well. … I plan to go back to my native home, Ghana, to make a difference. I hope to do this by building and reconstructing the health facilities, to create an efficient environment for pregnant women and children

I have chosen the medical field because of my childhood exposure and experiences in my country, Sierra Leone in West Africa where many people died including several of my family members, due to the war in my country. My grandmother was a casualty of the war. People did not get proper medical care; many had no medical insurance, and there were no trained to take care of them and also recovery was slow in most cases…. I promised myself that if given the educational opportunity, I would give back to my country…

(Envisioning her 10th reunion year’)’ A lot has happened since my graduation in 2011. I attended Howard University Medical School and became a pediatrician. Following graduation from Howard University I entered a pediatric residency program at the Children’s Hospital National medical Center. I specialized in the treatment of ADHD in children. During my second year in private practice I took a trip to Africa to obtain information and observe very ill impoverished children with minimal or no health care facilities. I set up a pediatric medical center and trained local doctors to be able to care for these children appropriately…

You want to relieve suffering closer to home’.

As a Haitian-American woman, my goal is to graduate from Trinity’ I believe that attending Trinity will enable me to become a psychologist because it will provide me with a supportive and inspiring environment that will be instrumental during my academic career… Being surrounded by other academically focused women will give me the strength and courage to fulfill my dreams, along with the certainty to succeed. As a young woman who lost her mother because of a void in community mental health resources, I believe that I can help others avoid similar tragedies’

You have known what it’s like to care for sick parents, siblings and relatives:

Being the only child of a single mother can be very stressful because you feel like you have to be better than ten children of a regular family’ I did not plan on moving away from home so that basically made everything much easier since my mother is not in the best condition due to her medical illnesses… The only thing that is left is to make my mother happy, the only person in the world that has been there for me and never told me to give up

At the age of 14 I became a part time mother [to my] three brothers at the time my mother had to go away. I was left to be the mother for them for about 3 to 4 years’ I stayed in school and maintained a high grade point average. Throughout those years, I did everything I could to make them happy as well as myself. When it first happened I did not understand why it happened to me. Nevertheless, my grandmother told me, “Be strong, God would not give you anything he did not think you couldn’t handle.

It has been hard growing up with a sickly parent— never knowing what the next day will bring. I have always felt older than I was and had to mature must faster than I intended to. I would watch the kids out my window playing jump rope, hopscotch, and tag. Even sitting on the porch outdoors looked like fun to me, but I knew that I could not go out to play. I had a more important job to do….. In becoming an adult too soon, I became more of who I am.

Growing up I discovered the true meaning of hard work and responsibility. Although I am the second eldest child, I was put into a situation where I had to become the big sister. By the 7th grade I was habitually waking up in the middle of the night with my mother to look for my oldest sister, who would periodically run away from home..not knowing where she was at 2 o’clock in the morning was hard because the thought of death would come across our minds. Along with this struggle of fearing death, I was responsible for watching my three siblings…

You have been part of the great natural and human catastrophes of our contemporary world’

(As a result of Hurricane Katrina)’ Living only thirty minutes from the Mississippi Gulf Coast my family sustained lots of damage. This world catastrophe opened my eyes’ Sitting in an extremely hot and dark house for thirteen days was not a dream, it was a reality! … I am so thankful for all of the volunteers who participated in the many rebuilding projects. This disaster motivated me to get involved and to give back some of the help that was given to my family and community.

I came to the United States as a refugee with my grandparents and siblings after escaping a brutal civil war in Sierra Leone, West Africa to have a better life: the American dream. My beloved mother was killed during the war. My mother’s death was a devastating experience. The only people who took my siblings and me with open arms were my grandparents. When we came to the United States life was a struggle. I reminisced on the past with my mother and the times we used to share as a family. Our entrance into the United States was life-changing…it is my own responsibility to prepare myself for college and my determination will guide me there…. I am willing to embark on this journey because since the day of my mother’s death it has been my duty to live each day of my life making her proud. I will also be the first woman in my family to attend college. I must set a positive example for my brother and prove that we will have a chance at happiness and prosperity. Despite the stress and sadness I endure, I remain committed to my studies, perform above average academically, and take my education seriously…. I know my life was spared for a reason… I serve a purpose in this world….

I remember being in Rwanda after the 1994 genocide. The sight of children with scars over their bodies and those traumatized by the horrific genocide has left an indelible mark on my mind. I feel that it is my obligation as a Rwandan citizen to help by participating in the reconstruction and healing effort…

You want to help other people:

I want to help people! This was a constant thought when I became a teenager. Well truthfully this thought went right along with teen heart throbs, my favorite music and the cute boys at school, yet helping others seemed pretty high on the priority list, too.

You have struggled with disabilities’

Due to my learning disability I think I am different from the rest of the applicants but in a good way. I am different from the rest of the applicants because I work about twice as much as they do. I do everything they have to do but I work, study, twice as hard as the ordinary…. I have accomplished many things that have made me stronger. Now my next goal …is to get accepted to college and become a Latin American/Spanish college professor. I believe that if I can accomplish this goal I can do anything in life and that I have the power if I just believe. This will also prove to all other people with some disability that if I can do it then anyone can and it doesn’t matter how smart you are or how fast you get things but how much dedication you have in yourself to succeed.

My unusual interest that sets me apart from my peers is my determination to keep succeeding even with my disability’

You have served your country and known this time of war first-hand’

After graduating from high school I enlisted in the army through which I have gained an understanding of life that I know will stay with me forever. During that time, I was deployed to Afghanistan for six months where I served as a supply clerk to the troops overseas. The different culture and mindset of the people of Afghanistan taught me so much about myself and of the conflicts of the world that we live in today. My ultimate goal is to obtain an international affairs degree where I will be able to travel to the Middle East and other conflict areas around the world in order to understand and ultimately resolve their issues….

I joined the Navy in order to serve my country, gain experience and have financial support for my education. I’ve been in the Navy for five years and am currently a Hospital Corpsman, specialized as a Histopathology Technician’.

You know more about life than many people three times your age’.

Imagine you are an eight year old child; your parents are strung out on drugs and one day they leave the house and never come back. You try your best to fend for yourself but in the process you realize how thin you’ve become and how bad your hygiene is. One day your school counselor comes to your house and discovers you on the floor basically dying. The counselor reports you to child and family services and how you have been placed in the system under child neglect and abuse. This is where I come in; my future ambitions and goals are to become a child neglect and abuse judge. In being placed in that particular position I plan to help children to the best of my ability and to revamp the foster care system completely.

You have learned from your mistakes’

Life involves mistakes. The key is learning from mistakes. ‘ I am an eighteen year old high school senior with mistakes that gave me the title of mother. A year ago I was placed in the category that says, ‘If you have a baby you don’t go to college or even finish high school.’ In my lesson learned, I want to be different. I want to be a mother that sets the right example. I can look up to my mother but not in all ways because she didn’t go to college. I want my daughter to look up to me in every way. Because she didn’t go to college we always lived in low-income houses. My mother had four children by the age of 24, so she just started to work at jobs that did not take her anywhere. I don’t want to live like that and I am willing to work hard so that I can make real money and give my daughter a future. I can’t make real money without a college education and that’s why I would like to attend Trinity. As a resident of the District of Columbia I am aware of the true value of getting an education in such a wonderful institution in such a great city. I wish to stay close to my daughter. She is my inspiration; she motivates me to go to college because I want to move her to a better environment. It is my belief that through attending Trinity I can be all I want to be…

You want to prevail over the violence around you’

Raised in Washington, DC, I have been exposed to crime all my life. Though I am a good person, bullets do not have a name. I do not want to be another statistic because of someone else’s stupidity. I have lost a cousin to violence. .. I have also lost childhood friends to crime. If I attended your university it would provide me with that sense of security.

When I was eight years old my only brother, and the oldest of my mom’s four children, was killed. He was shot by another over not giving up his coat. He was the only male figure in my life. He was my bodyguard and my role model. I looked up to him in everything he did. At the time of his death he had just moved back home….He had planned to go to college…. My goals are the goals that I want to complete but I also want to finish his goals because he was not able to. The common goal that we shared was to receive a quality higher education…

You have struggled with the challenge of being immigrants, learning a new language, adapting to this new culture’

Growing up in DC has not been easy, especially because my family is from El Salvador. Many times I struggled in school because I did not know how to complete the school work.

I was born and raised in Georgetown, Guyana which is the only English speaking country in a predominantly Spanish-Speaking South America. I am often mistaken for many other ethnicities such as Ethiopian or Latino when I’m simply East Indian. My lineage goes way back to the days of slavery and indentureship when my country was a British colony and the British brought people from all over the world to first work as slaves then as indentured laborers. My ancestors came from Bihar, India as indentured laborers and therefore that makes me East Indian… My family left a reasonably comfortable life to come to the United States and begin an entirely new life so that I could have a college education….We quickly assimilated to this new and strange American lifestyle, however, we still kept our cultural values. When we first came here it was very different from anything we had ever known…

I’ve been here in the US for almost 4 years and I’ve come to realize that “differences” is the greatest factor of my self-change. The diverse surroundings I have right now have influenced me a lot. Within that four years, I’ve seen myself grow. I can say that I’m more mature, have gained more self-discipline.. The diversity of this country has given me the opportunity to see another side of the world. It has offered me to meet new people, try new things, and anticipate their different cultures. I like the fact that I’ve learned so much from these new people even though I see myself really different from them…

Everyone at some point comes upon transitions in her life.. For me that transition came when I was eleven years old [and came to the US from Guatemala]’. When I first arrived in Washington, D.C., I knew little English. I could not establish a conversation nor understand one. I was filled with all different kinds of feelings… sad, scared, and mad. … The challenges I faced were tough. I had to learn a new language that was really hard for me. I had to adapt to new cultures and traditions…. All I have gone through thus far has taught me many things… I have learned that new experiences come with obstacles and facing them have made me a stronger person.. I have gained confidence and I know now where I stand and where I want to be…

You represent the human community, rejecting stereotypes and labels that are superficial:

Whenever I meet someone and inform them that I am Jamaican, they don’t believe me. They will in return say something like, “You don’t act like a Jamaican” or “You don’t look like one.” How does a Jamaican look or act’ Educating others about different cultures is important because they can learn things from people who have actually lived the lifestyle. They will know more about where we are from and have a better understand of our way of life…

When I was about a year old, I was adopted from the Philippines. I have Caucasian parents, two brothers who are also adopted, and who are both mixed, African American and Caucasian’. We are a family that does not recognize color. Family is made up of love and people who care about one another….

You know the deeply satisfying values inherent in the arts — writing, dance, performance’

Several of you have expressed the joy you find in writing’

I like to write, just writing and being able to express myself. I usually write to release stress or just express my feelings’

My special talent’ is writing or poetry’Poetry is therapeutic and a perfect type of expression. Poetry possesses no boundary and has no limitations. You’re free to express in any shape or form, and I love that type of freedom’

There are a number of dancers in this class, and several have echoed this sentiment:

Dance isn’t a one-day activity to me. It’s a lifestyle. It’s my verb. I express my emotions and feelings that are kept inside my heart and soul. When I perform it’s as if I’m a totally different person. My goal when I dance is to inspire people…. when you find a special talent or interest it’s no longer an activity, it becomes your alter ego..

Dance is a fluid motion that meets an expressive design. It’s like when you are hustling through your day and suddenly hear this cool beat and you are overtaken by the urge to tap your toes or sway your hips, then your head starts bouncing and before you know it you’re dancing… at the tender age of eight I knew that dancing would be my outlet to freedom. It’s my way to express my inner feelings…

Other artistic talents include:

My special talent is playing the violin’music has been my life and I would never trade my experiences for anything’

I have been performing on stage since I was seven years old and played a street urchin in Pagliacci with Placido Domingo at the Kennedy Center’ By the next season of the National Opera Society I played the Turtle and a Papagano child in the Magic Flute… I want to pursue a career in theatre because I love every minute of the acting, singing, dancing, directing, writing, makeup….. The stage is where I want my career to grow….

You want to be role models for your families’

I want to prove to all that I can be successful. The feeling to know that I may be the first female in my family to go to college is so fulfilling’

My family and I always dreamed about “the American dream.” I wanted to attend school in this country so that I could guarantee a better future for myself and give back to my community.

Growing up wasn’t easy. My parents are Hispanic and don’t understand English very well, so they couldn’t help me with my homework assignments. Ever since I was a little girl, I had to rely on myself to find solutions to questions I couldn’t answer. I am determined to succeed and become the first member of my family to attend college.

What motivates me to attend college is that neither one of my parents attended college and I saw how hard it can get at times with just having a high school diploma.. In today’s society it’s very hard for young black women to achieve their goals. There are not many people who believe in us.

I want to give the world another well-rounded black woman that isn’t a movie star, singer, rapper or model.

I am the first in my family to attend college and it means a lot to me to continue my education so that I can show the up and coming generation of my family and many others that all things are possible

Ever since I was little I wanted to make something of myself. Growing up I encountered stereotypes about Latinas, how they would become pregnant and not make it to college. I, on the other hand, did not want to be stereotyped in that way, nor did I want to become a statistic. I wanted to succeed and represent successful Latina women. I am very proud that I am the first from my family to attend college and graduate. It’s good to finally have broken the chain of family members who just dropped out of school…”

I grew up in poverty and didn’t have much to live comfortable by. We were always worrying about money and how we’re going to eat that night. When I became 13 years old I decided that I was going to be the one that will have to support my mother and my siblings….

When I was about ten years old, I started realizing that my family members would never continue school after high school. I remember being told, at the age of thirteen, by one of my cousins, “You will never make it to college, that’s if you even graduate from high school.” Instead of feeling upset, I made a promise to myself to attend college. … I intend to walk out of the shadows that my cousins have planted on me and walk into the light that my parents want me to walk into..

My mother and grandmother are both single mothers. I was raised in a house full of women: sisters, cousins, aunts. I was taught that education is the only key to a successful life, and that school comes first. School comes before going out, and way before a “boyfriend.”… I am committed to being financially stable in life and to give back to the person who has always given to me. This person, my mother, has always put her children first. Going to college would not only be my dream, but her’s also. I am the third of three children and the first to attend college.

Many of you are already mothers yourselves, and you want to do the right thing for your children by earning your college degrees’

(After having a baby as a high school sophomore)’ Many people had their opinions about how far I would make it after having a child at such a young age. I did not let having a child be an excuse not to attend college’ I want to grow up and know that my decisions were not mistakes but achievements…

Having a child is making me step up to the plate and be a more responsible individual’.I know that I must keep a steady head and stay on track. I want my child to have a very promising future and I know for that to happen I must expand my horizons and be more open-minded to new people and experiences.

(Motherhood at age 15 while a sophomore in high school, she describes how her mother has kept her focused’) “I want for you to go to college and be somebody in life and not end up like those young people who have no life on the streets. Give your baby everything positive that is out there in store for him. Only you can do that by being someone better in life.” That’s the phrase my mother always tells me… Every time I hear the same phrases from my mother, the thing that comes up in my head is the face of my little smiling prince… Every important decision I make in life is for a better tomorrow for him and myself…

You want to change yourselves’

I want to learn to take risks. I want to change my attitude about taking chances.

Education is the key to success’Since I came to the United States three years ago from a rural region of Ghana, I have become more conscious of the numerous opportunities that education has to offer me, and this realization has strengthened my goals and made me more ambitious in life. I have immersed myself into the whole educational system which includes attending class regularly, working hard to maintain good grades, and staying in school …

You want to give back to your mothers’

I grew up in a single parent home where I witnessed my mother struggle to make ends meet. My mom took care and raised my sister and I by herself without any help, child support or father by her side’ Although my mother didn’t receive a high school diploma nor a college degree, she still pushed forward to make a better life for her children and herself….

My birthmother was a woman of her early twenties when she put me up for adoption, the reason why I was put up is still unknown but I have a theory. During the time of my birth there was a civil war. I believe with all my heart my birthmother gave me up to save me.

My mother pushes me to do the right thing and to stay focused in school. The reason she pushes me as hard as she does is because I will be the first of my siblings to graduate from high school and go on to college’

My mother is my role model’she guides me in life with her wisdom’ I hope that one day the smile on her face when I finish college will be enough to repay her for everything she has done for me and more’ My mother had me at the age of 17 and her life was changed completely. She sold clothes to support me in my country because in Nicaragua life is not easy. She came to the United States to build a better life for me…The hardship of being on her own in a whole new environment gave her many experiences… have given her wisdom….

Undoubtedly, the most influential people in my life have been my grandmother and mother. In them I see enduring qualities of courage, strength, hope and especially love’

My mother has been a source of strength in my life. She has empowered me with her wisdom and encouragement’ she always reminds me of the value of my life and presence in the world’

You have traveled around the world and seen the need that will be the work of your lives’

At the age of sixteen’ I was able to go on a missionary/volunteer trip to Honduras with my grandfather. We lived very humbly and worked to build a technical school for a boy’s orphanage. Being there opened my eyes to how taking the time to help someone in need can be so gratifying. The impact on the way I viewed the world was changed forever… I have decided to study political science [which] might seem like a far cry from missionary work, but I believe that I could work to make a difference in government and public policy….We need strong women leaders who want to be a part of the political process in a positive way…

(She is a certified HIV and AIDS peer educator who went to South Africa to teach about AIDS prevention)’ The first day we arrived in South Africa, we rose early in the morning and journeyed to an extremely remote area known as Atlantis. Ninety-Five percent of the population in Atlantis is HIV infected and unemployed. After discovering the rapidly increasing rate of HIV, unemployment and poverty in this area, I became more eager to help the people in whatever way I could. I assisted the families by going to their homes and planting vegetables in their backyards. I also had the opportunity to visit clinics, schools, hospitals and hospices to spread the information about HIV and AIDS prevention and to have a better understanding of the epidemic in this country…

My experience in the Dominican Republic has greatly influenced my career calling. While there are many beautiful things about the nation… I have had the opportunity to view things from an everyday person’s perspective. People in the Dominican Republic struggle with economic empowerment on a daily basis… limited resources have greatly impacted the economic growth of the country. I hope in some way to help countries like this and third world nations identify ways to thrive and not view America as the land of salvation…

You have chosen Trinity because you believe deeply in the power of women to make change for the better’

Growing up, I always knew that I had a special passion for the advancement of women in all aspects of life. I was blessed with the opportunity to grow up around triumphant women who have all influenced me to be the woman I am today’ I made it my ambition to focus on the advancement of African American Women….I am a leading women’s rights activist and an active philanthropist…My ultimate aspiration is for African American women everywhere to have a fair chance at succeeding in life, and they all should believe in themselves.

It was not until my cousin was murdered ‘ a few months ago that I realized how much I did not know. I realized that if my life ended tomorrow I would not have gained all the information and knowledge that I could have’ I want to become the first person in my family to go to college… where my family is from (the Dominican Republic) the chance to get a higher education was limited, especially for Woman. It’s not that woman from my country don’t believe in education, but they tend to have families at a young age. The Woman has to stay home and take care of the children or get some type of job to help pay the bills. I want to break this type of thinking and start a cycle of success through education.

You are women with big plans’

I am confident that someday I will become a woman of distinction. I am prepared mentally, physically, socially and intellectually for this moment in my life’ My true passion is to become a teacher’I was fortunate to have had several extraordinary teachers. Their dedication, commitment and encouragement were instrumental in what I have become. They taught me the true meaning of sacrifice and service. I have envisioned myself standing in their places, molding the lives of students in my own way.

Phenomenal Woman, Yes, that’s me! Phenomenal Woman, strong as can be! I am standing tall and proud among you’ Becoming a woman, having a child, maintaining my grades, impressing my family, mentoring my friends and working two jobs has been my lifestyle for the past year and a half. I have set myself apart from others to master and accomplish my goals… Lacking was not on my agenda….Times have been hard and times have been rough yet never in a million years would I pass my life up….

(15 years from now she wants to have her own business in fashion)’.In fifteen years I plan to reach a point where I have made something out of myself and am a confident and strong woman. My business will be well accomplished and I will have an office in two different states….my parents should be sitting watching me making a lot of money and building onto their house with money that was put away. They will not worry about saving money to pay bills, that will be handled by me. They should be having fun doing things that they want to do…. I am a woman with big plans.”

You know what you have to do’.

I am the artist of my life and the director of my future’

You have come to Trinity to learn how to paint the canvas well, how to frame the scenes and light the sets of your lives, how to imagine the images you want to portray, how to select and manage the tools, the talent, the time, the money, the labor and good faith you will need to be successful in your grand endeavors.

Your study of the liberal arts will give you the broad intellectual and philosophical fabric necessary for the work you will undertake throughout your lives.

You will study history so that you will know what humanity has already learned, and must learn anew in each generation; you will study literature so that you will know how the human mind has perceived and created realities that you have never experienced.

You will study psychology to understand how the human mind and heart and soul come together, what makes human beings act as they do, what happens when the systems fall apart. You will study sociology to learn how we create communities and social constructs. You will study math and science so that you will come to know the measures and elements of the physical and material worlds, so that you will have the conceptual skills necessary for quantitative analysis, which is essential for your professional lives as well as personal success.

You will study religion in order to plumb the depths of human spirituality and belief systems. You will study politics and government as citizens of the world and of a nation where self-government is essential but only truly possible with educated, engaged citizen leaders. You will study the arts so that you can cultivate the highest aesthetic sensibilities, enjoying what is beautiful in art and music and dance and drama, learning more about the conditions of life through the ways we represent our souls. You will study philosophy in order to cultivate the habit of philosophizing, that essential intellectual skill that is the foundation for all mature life and work.

You will choose a major subject in your later years, and through that major you will set yourself on a path toward developing true expertise in a given subject. You will establish sound habits for research, critical analysis, disciplined writing and persuasive public speaking. You will become a cultured, literate, thoughtful, sophisticated human being — but, we pray, without arrogance or elitism.

To ensure that you stay grounded in what’s really important in life, we expect you to live by the highest standards of honor and integrity through Trinity’s Honor System, about which you will hear much in the days to come. We also expect you to be engaged with the work of service to our community and world, to live the principles of social justice that are shared by most major religions, to manifest a belief that the power of education is only well utilized when applied to the service of others and the advancement of the common good.

A word to the parents who are with us today: we are delighted to join you as partners along the way of raising these exceptional women and future world leaders. You are welcome here, always, and we look forward to greeting you on many occasions at Trinity. We do ask that you understand our teaching methods here, which sometimes will mean that we ask you to step back, to realize that college is now a different place in her journey, a place that often will require her to deal with her own business directly, standing on her own to resolve problems and learn to be a mature adult. We are always happy to talk with you, and hope that you will work with us along this part of her journey.

In all of this, we honor to the idea of Trinity that first took root 110 years ago in the minds and hearts and courage and fortitude of a group of women we revere as the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, Trinity’s founders. Those brave women had a passionate belief in the right of women to obtain a higher education, and they had a profound expectation for the women they educated here at Trinity — an expectation that each of us will use this education to improve our families, community and society. You, the Class of 2011 and the new transfer students we welcome today, you are the latest heirs of their great vision, joining a long procession of thousands of Trinity Women who have come before you on this campus, sharing the simple idea that through education women can become powerful, and powerful women can change the world.

On this, your first official day at Trinity, we offer special prayers for your success in this great endeavor of learning.

May your minds and hearts be truly open to the transformative power of learning. May your educational experience here at Trinity illuminate your intellect, enlarge your spirit, lead you to achieve more than you ever thought possible.

May the hopes and dreams you hold fast today flourish through your Trinity years as this education shows you the way to achieve your highest goals.

May you know the strength that comes from learning with great faculty who will challenge you; may you know the joy of great friends who will comfort and sustain you; may you know the wisdom that can only come after hard effort to master the knowledge you have come here to acquire.

May your education here at Trinity empower your life’s work, helping you to discover the great causes that will be worthy of the investment of your time, talent and passion down through the years.

May the blessings of the Trinity go with you as you begin this glorious journey in learning.

Congratulations to all new students of Trinity!

Patricia A. McGuire, President, Trinity, 125 Michigan Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20017
Phone: 202.884.9050   Email:



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