Events in Miami and Tampa brought out nearly 200 alumni, families and prospective students.
The GW + You national tour held two events in Florida last week highlighting the university’s achievements, progress toward preparing the university’s strategic plan, and plans for GW’s bicentennial in 2021. Nearly 200 alumni from classes 1955 through 2019, families and prospective students attended events in Miami and Tampa to engage in a conversation with President Thomas LeBlanc and members of the GW Alumni Association Executive Committee and the GW Leadership Advisory Council.
University community members at both events shared their GW stories and their excitement for the university’s future.
"This was a fantastic evening,” said Dwayne Allen, M.B.A. ’96, a member of the GW Leadership Advisory Council who moderated the conversation with Dr. LeBlanc in Tampa. “Being relatively new to Tampa, it was so great to see and meet so many alums in the area, and I was amazed by everyone’s enthusiasm."
GW Alumni Association Executive Committee member Frances Hassun, B.A. ’10, told the crowd in opening remarks, “We're thrilled to see such a remarkable turnout this evening.” Both Ms. Hassun and Dr. LeBlanc thanked GW parents Ali Kolaghassi, B.B.A. ’90, Lama Kolaghassi, Nadim Ashi, B.S. ’84, M.S. ’86, and Marlene Ashi, B.A.’87, for their generosity in hosting the Miami event. (Photo by Craig Ambrosio.)
"My program [at the Graduate School of Education and Human Development] helped me to realize my own attributes as a person," said Linda Campbell, Ed.D. ’15 (left, with her husband, James Campbell). "GW has something that allows you to become a change agent, personally and professionally. Wherever I am, I feel very proud that I am a graduate of GW, and I was very pleased tonight to see the GW standard of excellence being carried through here in Miami. President LeBlanc was transparent, he was very supportive, and he showed his leadership in where GW is going." (Photo by Craig Ambrosio.)
"I had a very intense connection with GW, even before I went there. It was my top choice. Now that it’s post-GW, I definitely want to continue that connection," said Anahi Hurtado, B.A. ’19. Ms. Hurtado said she was excited to share the evening with family, including her father, Horacio. "My GW experience has always involved my parents. They were always keeping track of everything that was going on at GW. When I got the invitation for tonight, it was a given that they would come. Even now, it’s definitely the three of us sharing the GW experience." (Photo by Craig Ambrosio.)
“GW shaped me as a person. It made me part of who I am. I wanted to be a lawyer; I loved the politics of everything. I moved to Florida. I became an attorney. I’ve had cases in Washington, and I’ve always gone back to the school and walked around, seen my brick on campus,” said Michael Orenstein, B.A. ’79. Mr. Orenstein and his wife, Anne (right), were interested in hearing from Dr. LeBlanc because their son, Jarred, is now a first-year student. “He’s already immersed in it,” they said. “We think it will be a great experience for him.” (Photo by Craig Ambrosio.)
Joe Garrel, B.B.A. ’02 (center), is a financial adviser in Miami. "I want to stay connected," he said. "President LeBlanc was very relatable, and it's exciting to see that there are great things happening in D.C., great things for the university. I'm excited for the bicentennial. That’s a great anniversary for GW." (Photo by Craig Ambrosio.)
Anna Kouzmine (left) and her mother, Michelle Kouzmine, B.A. ’00 (right), recently visited GW for a campus tour and were excited for the opportunity to connect with GW in their hometown. “Everyone that I’m in contact with from GW is still in D.C. or abroad,” said Mrs. Kouzmine, who studied Russian language and literature at GW and spent years living abroad herself. “I don’t know anyone [from GW] in Miami, so I thought, what a great opportunity to get [my daughter] a little bit more involved, to get myself more involved.” (Photo by Craig Ambrosio.)
In Tampa, Dr. LeBlanc shared why he is passionate about advocating for paid student internships. “My wife and I are both the first in our families to graduate from college, and we both worked our way through college. If you've never met a Zamboni driver, maybe I’m your first, because that’s how I worked my way through college. I couldn't do unpaid internships and make connections,” he said. “We are working very hard to make sure that every student that comes to GW can be successful, whatever their circumstances may be back home.” Dr. LeBlanc spoke during a conversation moderated by Mr. Allen. (Photo by Steve Poisall.)
"Throughout my experience at GW, I met [with leadership], I was very vocal about my ideas at the time," said Neer Rao, B.A. ’12 (second from left), who attended GW on a full scholarship and now works for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva. "The university changed my life—doing things for social good, social impact, that's what I learned through my professors. I wanted to see what the president's perceptions were after listening to his students. As an alum, you want to be active in that. Engaging with leadership gives you insight into what the future will hold for other students." (Pictured, left to right: Natalie West, GW staff; Mr. Rao; Lauren Fiata, B.A.’06; Scott Fiata.) (Photo by Steve Poisall.)
"As someone who is very interested in international development, being in Washington was the best opportunity for my career, and GW really connected me to the major players in my field,” said Michelle Chettiath, M.A. ’19 (pictured with her husband, Royce Cyriac). "I was really excited to see that GW was hosting an event in Tampa. It's a great way for me to connect back with my D.C. experience, and I enjoyed hearing about plans for alumni engagement. Because I’m [no longer] in D.C., it’s not as accessible for me to meet GW alumni, so going to these events and hearing about cultivating community is exciting." (Photo by Steve Poisall.)
Robert Turner (right) is involved with GW via his wife, Donna Turner, M.H.A. ’17 (center). “I have been affiliated [through my wife] for many years, and I love the school,” he said. “President LeBlanc is an exciting guy, and I enjoyed listening to his direction tonight. He has a firm grasp of where GW is and where it needs to be. I loved it.” (Also pictured: Albert Tenpenny, B.B.A. ’01.) (Photo by Steve Poisall.)