Class of 2020 Learns to Raise High at Colonial Inauguration

Summer CI sessions introduce more than 3,000 students and their families to life at George Washington University.

Colonial Inauguration 2016
Colonial Cabinet members direct incoming students from the class of 2020 to their correct seats in Lisner Auditorium for the opening session of CI. (GW Today
June 13, 2016

Brittney Dunkins

Just a few hours after a plane brought Jackie Torrez from the suburbs of Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., last Thursday, she began her college career at the George Washington University Colonial Inauguration (CI) alongside hundreds of members of the class of 2020 and their families.

As CI cabinet members in navy pants and neon socks waved a bustling crowd of students and their families through check-in on the third floor of the Marvin Center, Ms. Torrez described the scene as new, but somehow familiar.

She was once again the new kid in school.

“It’s the beginning again, and I’m starting all over,” Ms. Torrez said while clutching a stack of leaflets in one hand and a black rolling suitcase in the other. “I’ve only been to D.C. once before, so while I’m here I just want to get a feel for the school, the city and the people.”

Ms. Torrez and nearly 500 other members of the class of 2020 did just that during the first session of the high-energy CI orientation program held June 9-11. GW students, faculty, administrators and staff offered a guided tour of the GW journey from academics, athletics and career services to student organizations, campus life, student support services and health and wellness resources.

Parents, caregivers and siblings once again had their own specially tailored programming that included small group dinners for parent and caregivers to get to know one another and a tour of D.C. landmarks such as the Smithsonian National Zoo and the Newseum.

According to CI Coordinator Kendra Scott, more than 3,000 students and their families are expected to attend CI during Fall CI held Aug. 24-26 and the four summer sessions held June 9-11, June 16-18, June 22-24 and June 28-30.

Though students attend different CI sessions, they can follow one another’s experiences on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram using #CISelfie. Photos posted on social media are streamed during the closing session of each CI.

Ms. Scott said that this year, the second day of each CI session is all about “capturing the spirit” of GW. Incoming students learn about GW traditions, watch a student performance showcase and meet current students during the student organizations fair.

During the closing session, a new activity helps incoming students connect with CI staff members as students and individual members of the GW community.

“Statements are read aloud, and CI staff members step forward when a statement applies to them,” Ms. Scott said. “It’s an opportunity to showcase the varied talent of current students and further emphasize the diversity of the GW community.”

Before experiencing CI traditions, such as the “Scenes from College Life” performance and the Buff and Blue BBQ, students and their families filled the Lisner Auditorium for the CI opening session.

The Colonial Cabinet performed skits about life at GW during "Scenes from College Life." (William Atkins/GW Today)

Interim Provost Forrest Maltzman encouraged students to take “healthy risks” during their time at GW. For example, he said, exploring new academic interests, volunteering on campus and in D.C., studying abroad and even befriending a student from a different cultural, religious or geographic background are critical parts of getting the “absolute value of a GW education.”

“You may stumble or fall sometimes when you try new things, but that is normal,” Dr. Maltzman said. “GW is a loving and caring community, and I challenge you to watch out for one another.”

Student Association President Erika Feinman took the stage to explain the SA’s role in the university community as an advocate for student voices, an allocating source for student organization funding and an assistance resource for student issues.

“Three years ago, my CI leader told me the problem at GW isn’t finding something to do, it’s deciding what to do,” Feinman said. “Embrace it, and try as many things as possible.”

"Watch out for one another," Dr. Maltzman said. (William Atkins/GW Today)

As the opening session wrapped up, Vice Provost and Dean of Student Affairs Peter Konwerski charged students to not only think about civility and respect as they contribute to the GW community, but also to dive into their college experience with enthusiasm, whether tackling academics or taking on new responsibilities as student and community leaders.

“This is a community that values and serves everyone,” Dr. Konwerski said. “At GW we pride ourselves on creating a spirit of connection, and now it’s your turn.”

Student Life, Brittney Dunkins