Revolutionary Tales: Graduating Senior Ishani Patel Made the Most of Her GW Experience

Whether it was with orientation, Program Board, moot court, internships or walks to the monuments with friends, the political communications major took advantage of her time at the university.

May 8, 2024

Ishani Patel riding a skateboard around Potomac Square

Ishani Patel, a graduating political communications major at the George Washington University, lives life leaving nothing to chance. She possesses both curiosity and commitment, an ideal combination for GW and Washington, D.C. Patel goes all in on everything she does and usually tackles it with a great deal of enthusiasm that stems from her overall zest for living.

For instance, when her first-year roommate at GW, public health major Heather Motta, would longboard in the back alleyways of District House, Patel would watch and wonder whether that was an activity she too could take up to form an even deeper bond with the person who shared her living space.

Despite no prior experience, Patel decided—with a little encouragement from Motta, who only started longboarding as means to pass time during the pandemic—to give the wheels a whirl. Once she started rolling, there was no stopping her.

“I was like ‘Girl, this so much fun, like, we have to keep doing this!’” Patel said. “I bought a skateboard off Amazon for $30. It’s my favorite thing ever.”

She does confess that one time, a wheel popped off and she had to screw it back on its rightful axle. But, alas, a new hobby had been formed. Suddenly, the alleyways of District House and concrete of Potomac Square would become the practice grounds for simple riding—and beyond.

“She was a quick learner,” said Motta, who paused before adding a description that encapsulates the spirit to which Patel lives her life. “She’s also a bit of a daredevil.”

If you’ve stepped foot on to the Foggy Bottom campus at any point since August 2021, there’s a good chance you’ve run into the always busy but even more sociable Patel. And if you’ve had the opportunity to meet her, whether she was your guide through orientation, moot court teammate or the person you sat next to in class, chances are your experience was memorable. That smile rarely leaves her face and is downright infectious to those around her.

Her hard work both in and out of the classroom has paid off in a big way, as she’ll graduate at GW’s Commencement on the National Mall on May 19, having completed her bachelor’s degree in just three years.

That daredevil mentality that she exhibited while learning to skateboard perfectly symbolizes just why she has been able to squeeze so much out of her GW experience. She was never afraid to take chances.

“Being able to come to GW as an out-of-state student and being able to grow into myself has been absolutely huge,” said Patel, who hails from Dracut, Mass., just about an hour north of Boston. “I've learned so many things about myself here. I've made so many mistakes here, and just being able to grow from them has taught me so much.”

Whether it was Motta in Potomac Square, a professor in the classroom or someone else, Patel appreciated just how heavily she could rely on the GW community to push her to places she never thought she’d go.

“There's so many people here to support you at GW...they teach you so many ways to get back up and keep going,” she said.

Patel is the living embodiment of “you get out what you put in” as she immersed herself in all GW has to offer from the moment she arrived on campus.

Ishani Patel riding a skateboard around Potomac Square
Ishani Patel learned to ride the skateboard during her first year on campus and has since used the alley behind District House and Potomac Square as her practice grounds. (Cara Taylor/GW Today)

Moot court was her absolute favorite, and she eventually served as its communications manager. Not only did she scratch an itch for constitutional law created by her self-described inner nerd, but she also made lifelong friendships and experiences—such as hosting an actual competition— through moot court that she’ll never forget. “It was the best experience of my life,” she said.

While working for the for orientation, she started a podcast for prospective students who wanted to learn more about the university. Patel also helped to run the orientation’s social media accounts, in addition to her duties interacting with prospective students on visits.

“Some students still come say hi to me even now, as a senior, and it's just so, so amazing,” said Patel, who is an ace every admissions department would love to have up their sleeves.

One of her favorite “only-at-GW” moments came while marketing Fall Comedy Show featuring Leslie Jones in October of 2022. Patel, who was working for Program Board, made a video for the Student Life’s Instagram story and tagged Jones in the post. The former Saturday Night Live star then reposted the story to her more than 2 million followers.

“It was just like ‘oh my gosh, that’s my face!’” Patel remembers screaming when she saw the repost.

Patel, whose held numerous internships during her time at GW, has also been involved with the Women’s Pre Law-Student Association and Bipartisan Women’s Supper Club, all while carrying a rigorous course load that has included favorite classes such as public diplomacy and media law. (OK, she may have been on to something with that whole constitutional law nerd thing.)

While her schedule has been packed to the brim with classroom and extracurricular activities, she has also taken advantage of living in Washington, D.C. She’ll never get sick of a monument walk, often bringing her friends with her to share a moment on the marble steps gazing out at the same sight Martin Luther King Jr. saw during his famous “I Have a Dream Speech” in 1963.

“Over time, you get desensitized to it, and you’re like ‘oh yeah, it’s just the Washington Monument.’ But then you go see it, and it never ceases to amaze you,” said Patel, who is a frequent user of the U-Pass partnership with Metro. “I can just sit and stare at the Washington Monument while sitting at the Lincoln Memorial forever.”

On an overcast Thursday afternoon just over a month before graduation, Patel finally opened the package containing her cap and gown in the comforts of her own apartment, filled with photographs of her with friends both on campus and throughout the city—in addition to all the GW merchandise and swag she’s collected over the years.

She tried on the blue robe first before sliding the cap onto her head. Then she gave the tassel a little flick, undoubtedly reflecting on the experiences and memories made the last three years. Next, of course, she smiled.

And finally, she took off the cap and gown and stored it safely away for May 19 before walking to the kitchen.

On the fridge? A spoof certificate from the orientation team awarding her the “Biggest Skater Girl.”