Seniors’ Favorite GW Memories

In their own words, graduating seniors talk about their most memorable moments during their time at the university.

Clockwise from top left: Ashley Le, Deven Patel, Harrison Jones, Lydia Schalles, Imani Ross, Morgan Hyman, Tyriana Evans and Vi
Clockwise from top left: Ashley Le, Deven Patel, Harrison Jones, Lydia Schalles, Imani Ross, Morgan Hyman, Tyriana Evans and Vikram Albrecht.
May 02, 2019

With the 2019 Commencement less than two weeks away, GW Today has asked members of the Class of 2019 to reflect on their time at the George Washington University.

Here are moments that mattered to them:

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Vikram Albrecht
Hometown: Winchester, Mass.
Major: B.A. in geography/international affairs

My favorite GW memory actually occurred off campus at Twins Jazz, a small jazz club in the U Street Corridor. Each semester the GW Jazz Orchestra, an entirely student-led ensemble, hikes up to Twins to perform a weekend of shows.

I had the pleasure of playing trombone in this group.

For our shows at Twins, we crammed 20-plus musicians on a stage built for about five, and played songs that ranged from old jazz standards to new funk charts. But the best part of our shows was looking down at the audience sitting directly in front of us at tiny tables, ordering cheesecake and drinks. That is because the faces in the crowd were all recognizable— students who came up from Foggy Bottom to support us and listen to us make music.

It was incredibly special to bring GW students out to a unique, local destination like Twins because I got to incorporate the larger D.C. community into my GW experience.

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Morgan Hyman
Hometown: Philadelphia
Degree: B.A. in accountancy
Post-graduation plans: Summer internship at Deloitte in New York, then graduate school for a master’s of accountancy at Temple University

I remember moving into my dorm on the first day of freshman year like it was yesterday. My dad, a GW alum, told stories throughout the entire day. He had a memory for every spot we visited on campus, and every story involved his college roommate and lifelong friend. I remember hoping that I would love my time at GW as much as he did, make memories around D.C., and most importantly, meet a lifelong friend to share those memories with.

Two days later, I sat down next to a girl in my university writing class, Sam Holender. We hit it off. We got coffee after class and walked home together, where we discovered that we were next-door neighbors in our freshman dorm. Fast forward a week, and we were inseparable. Now, four years later, Sam and I live together, we studied abroad together, and we are graduating together. We share memories all over campus, all over D.C., and all over the world. 

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Imani Ross
Hometown: Philadelphia, Pa.
Degree: B.A. in political science
Post-graduation: Working at Gartner tech advisory company in Rosslyn, Va., as a client engagement specialist

"My favorite GW memory, I would say, was the conception or the founding of the Women of Color affinity, so that was able to start going into my sophomore year. So, being able to leave something behind on campus that kind of shaped me as a student was my favorite thing I ever did at GW.

The Women of Color affinity is in District House, it houses 20 women of color, and it's a living learning community, so we all live together, but we also used to put on events toward self-care and professional development and building a fellowship and be around other people who look like you and did similar things and had similar cultural backgrounds. 

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Harrison Jones
Hometown: Hanover, Pa.
Degree: B.F.A. in photojournalism
Post-graduation plans: Continue working in photography and begin volunteering as a firefighter/EMT

In four great years at GW, there have been way too many memories for me to count. A common thread between many of them is the incredible events and opportunities I’ve been able to photograph and experience being right here in the heart of Washington. From following the GW men’s basketball team to Madison Square Garden to document an incredible victory to having the opportunity to photograph at the White House, I can’t think of a better place to study to be a photographer.  

One thing I surely won’t forget anytime soon: meeting my role model, Pete Souza, in person while photographing his event at Lisner Auditorium. Souza was one of my inspirations to become a photographer, and in meeting him during my last year of college, everything felt like it had come full circle.

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Lydia Schalles
Hometown: Ocean City, N.J.
Degree: B.A. in international affairs
Post-graduation plans: Working for the Department of Defense

Throughout my four years at GW I have made so many memories, but if I had to choose just one, I would say my favorite was being part of GW Club Gymnastics.

Gymnastics has been such a huge part of my life. I competed in the sport for most of my life, starting in elementary school and through high school. When the club gymnastics team was formed last year, it gave me the opportunity to do something I had enjoyed for so long and to get more involved on campus. I previously, had not been involved with any on-campus organizations.

This year we started competing, and going to meets has been amazing!

There is so much comradery on the team and so much school spirit. Everyone on the team cheers for each other and helps one another in any way possible—everything from setting up the uneven bars, braiding hair, putting on face tattoos or choreographing routines for each other.

The Club Gymnastics team has allowed me to proudly represent GW and meet gymnasts from other schools. I am so excited to watch the club grow and hope to stay involved after I graduate!

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Ashley Le
Hometown: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and Orange County, Calif.
Degree: B.A. in journalism/mass communication
Post-graduation plans: Looking for the intersection of advocacy and storytelling

The summer after my first year, a Presidential Fellow reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in working on a documentary about the 2016 presidential election. I responded, "Sure, I guess?" Little did I know that this response would lead to four months of intense filming and editing, accompanied by an emotional rollercoaster. After countless sleepless nights, the SMPA 510 editing lab became my home away from home that semester. But over the years, I have also seen many cohorts of SMPA students uplift the stories of underrepresented communities using their video production skills in the same room—that's really powerful. Storytelling is urgent and important now more than ever, and we all can be a part of that effort. 

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Tyriana Evans
Hometown: Upper Marlboro, Md.
Degree: B.A., journalism and mass communications
Post-graduation plans: Pursing a master’s degree in pan-African studies at Syracuse University, where I’ll also be a teaching assistant in the Department of African American Studies.

Last year, I won a lottery ticket to see Emmanuel Macron, the president of France, at the Smith Center. I thought, “This is so cool—he’s not going to any other colleges in the area. He chose GW.” I didn’t go with friends, but I sat near these other students, a really mixed group of people, and we were all sharing our experience at GW and talking about how cool it was to be selected to sit in there and see him.

It wasn’t just being able to listen to President Macron talk about his experiences. He also was willing to listen to us and take questions from us, even personal stuff like how to stand up for yourself and make a difference for yourself.

I remember that he stopped to talk with a group of protestors before he came into the event, which made him late. When he came in after that, he said even though these protestors were kind of in opposition to him, he took time to hear their perspective. That’s something you have to do as a student and a person in the world: Listen to people’s perspectives, even if they’re different from yours, and be respectful. That was something that stuck with me, because I think a lot of times we don’t listen to each other.

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Deven Patel
Hometown: Robins, Iowa
Degree: B.A. in international affairs, B.S. in economics
Post-graduation plans: Working as an analyst at Cornerstone Research

Last spring, my international affairs fraternity, Sigma Iota Rho, held “SIR Olympics,” where fraternity’s different families competed in a series of challenges and games such as capture-the- flag and water balloon fights.

My family, being extremely competitive, decided to go all out for this event.

We wore all black shorts and T-shirts with purple bandanas and painted our faces with purple and white paint. Like all the other families, we also designed and painted a flag. All dressed up, we descended on U-Yard for a day of fun and games.

Spending a beautiful day outside with great friends will always be one of the highlights of my time at GW.

Student Life, Commencement