Dina Biblin's life has been marked by curiosity, energy and gratitude. She vigorously pursues chances to learn new things and is grateful for the opportunities that come her way, largely because her university education was made possible by a full scholarship when she started at the George Washington University.
Now, 45 years after her curiosity and energy led her to two GW degrees, she counts her experiences at GW as life altering.
“If it wasn’t for my scholarships, plus financial benefits from serving as a resident counselor, I wouldn’t have gone to GW,” Biblin said. “And it really affected my whole life. All my life decisions stemmed from being in Washington, having the experiences I did and the things I learned.”
Her gratitude for how GW changed her life prompted Biblin, B.A. ’75, J.D. ’78, to support scholarships that will allow extraordinary female students who otherwise couldn’t afford a GW education to attend the Elliott School of International Affairs.
“I’m very impressed with what the Elliott School is doing,” Biblin said. “Their Middle East Studies Program is working to create peace in the Middle East through education, and the university’s association with José Andrés to help feed and educate others is something about which I’m proud. If we can educate more students who want to help others around the globe, to me that’s a gift that GW is giving to the world. That’s why I chose the Elliott School for my donation.”
Biblin came from a middle-class family that often relocated. At age 16, she graduated from high school in Edina, Minnesota. In addition to earning outstanding grades, she was captain of her high school debate team, a talented musician, playing piano for high school plays and even collaborating with another student to write a rock opera about the Middle Ages. She had never been to Washington, D.C., and couldn’t afford to travel, but a high school guidance counselor, aware of her interest in politics, made the crucial suggestion that she apply to GW. When she was not only admitted but offered a full scholarship, her decision was easy. Biblin arrived on campus in August 1971 and threw herself wholeheartedly into the experience, taking advantage of every opportunity she could.
She treasures memories of her political science classes and joining friends during her early years at GW for meals in the dining halls. “We’d be at our lunch table in Thurston Hall for hours,” she said, “arguing about politics and talking about life.” She remains close friends with several college classmates as well as her fellow resident counselors from the residence halls.
A volunteer internship with a U.S. senator from Minnesota, Walter Mondale, was her first experience in government. There, she drafted responses to constituent letters and some press releases. Sometimes, she joined Mondale and fellow Minnesota Sen. Hubert Humphrey for lunch in the Senate Dining Room, which she says was “really pretty cool for somebody who was just a kid.”
Biblin also spent a semester interning for a Ralph Nader consumer lobby group and worked at various federal agencies during her summer breaks to help earn money for incidentals during the school year. These undergraduate experiences helped prepare her for studying law, she said.
After graduating from GW Law, she practiced law for 45 years, first with several law firms, and then as a trial lawyer for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, doing fraud enforcement and investigations. She also defended the Defense Department and the financial regulatory agencies while working as a trial attorney for the Department of Justice before closing out the past 24 years of her federal government career as senior litigation counsel for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and as a trial advocacy instructor for federal agencies and the National Institute of Trial Advocacy.
She credits the faculty of the 1970’s Political Science Department with strengthening her desire to enter public service. Her favorite professor at GW Law was the late David Seidelson, whom she credits with teaching her how to approach a legal problem “step by step, to analyze facts, decipher each issue, and then interpret the case law to determine how best to apply it to the facts at hand. His logic for analyzing conflicts in law stayed with me throughout my career.”
Biblin remains active in retirement, partly by volunteering as a member of various boards of directors including that of a camera club, where she is developing skills to improve her post-retirement hobby, photography.
“Every day without learning something is a day wasted,” she said. “I just feel lucky. GW was a fabulous experience, and I made the most I could of it. I can’t say enough good things about the university. For me, the years I spent at GW contributed to my growth as a young adult, let alone as a contributing member of society. I want other students to have that opportunity.”
The scholarship she is creating will ensure that other talented students can experience GW and have those only-at-GW moments, too. To the list of her other qualities—energy, curiosity and gratitude—we can add generosity.
Open Doors: The Centuries Initiative for Scholarships & Fellowships charts a course to increase access to the transformative power of a GW degree. Learn more about how GW is expanding opportunity for the next generation of leaders.