By Ruth Steinhardt
First-year George Washington University graduate students packed Lisner Auditorium Thursday afternoon for a ceremony and reception where administrators, faculty and fellow students welcomed them to campus.
Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Forrest Maltzman encouraged the new arrivals to take advantage of teaching and learning opportunities unique to graduate study.
“As a member of the faculty, I have always viewed—and my colleagues on the faculty have always viewed—their graduate students as peers and colleagues,” he said.
Gabrielle Julien-Molineaux, senior recruitment and marketing associate in the Office of Graduate Enrollment, emphasized the experiential diversity of the graduate population. Polling the audience, she pointed out that only about half of those present arrived directly from undergraduate institutions. Many were international students. Many had years of professional, educational or military experience. Many were balancing their studies and their families.
“I hope you will take advantage of this diversity, as well as the wonderful diversity that is present in our city,” Ms. Julien-Molineaux said. She added that GW graduate students “significantly outnumber” undergraduates, which “means is that there is a tremendous opportunity to create community with such a robust number of fellow scholars.”
Current students Ty Miranda and Shaheera Jalil Albasit also addressed their new fellows. Ms. Albasit, a master’s of public administration candidate in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences and CCAS graduate senator in the GW Student Association, lost her 17-year-old cousin Sabika Sheikh in a school shooting in Santa Fe, Tex. Returning to Pakistan with her cousin’s body after the death, Ms. Albasit asked herself whether it was worth it to continue her studies.
Ultimately, she said, GW and its activist community convinced her that it was.
“If any institution can truly, truly empower me to turn the loss of my cousin Sabika into a meaningful opportunity for education, reform, activism, it’s the George Washington University,” she said. “So brace yourselves, because this city and this campus have so much to offer a grad student.”
Community was already on display after the welcome ceremony, as students got to know each other over snacks and lemonade in Kogan Plaza.
Aaron Faugstad, Steven Glick and Ari Mitropoulos, all incoming students at the Elliott School of International Affairs, chatted with each other after a day of site visits that included the Cato Institute, the Center for Advanced Defense Studies and the Global Taiwan Institute.
“D.C.’s a pretty big place, and there are a lot of big names here, so I guess there’s a bit of an intimidation factor,” Mr. Faugstad said. “But I’m excited.”
Mr. Mitropoulos agreed. “It’s already a pretty great start,” he said.