Voices of the Historic Red Class of 2020: Triumphant Graduates!
We invited Trinity alumnae to send letters of congratulation to the Red Class of 2020 — they responded with enthusiasm, watch this video to read the letters (feel free to pause on each if you need more time to read them!)…. Thank you, alumnae, especially all Red Class alums!
Across history from this year forward, the Class of 2020 will be legendary. In every school, college and university around the globe, this is the class that learned the hard lessons of a global pandemic; this is the class that had their lives thrown into complete disruption when Covid-19 forced schools everywhere to stop, pivot, and switch to alternative instructional modes. The Class of 2020 suffered the loss of rituals and traditions, the final parties, senior games, and postponement of the biggest ceremony of all, commencement.
But, true to form, Trinity students rise to the occasion! The Red Class of 2020 at Trinity — red was the color of our very first class, the Class of 1904, so there is a historic parallel on pathbreaking here — this class has not wasted time bemoaning the fate that befell them. Instead, in so many ways, the Trinity Class of 2020 confronted the setbacks, learned to adapt, looked outward to a world they are eager to serve, and continued their determined march toward degrees that they cherish. Many are the first in their families to attend college, earn degrees, look forward to professional careers. They were not about to let coronavirus stop them. They persisted, showing great fortitude and courage as they learned to Zoom and work on projects virtually and complete their degree requirements with an amazing array of technology tools.
In the paragraphs below, in their own words, Trinity’s Class of 2020 are telling their stories. They are following in the footsteps of the many brave women and men who came before them. They are trailblazers in their own right, and they deserve our respect, admiration and loud cheers for their achievements.
CONGRATULATIONS, TRINITY REDS OF 2020! I will keep adding their stories through the end of May….
Youssra Khalil, CAS, B.A. Communication
At the age of eleven, I moved to the United States in 2007, with my mother and two brothers. My mother gave up her career and believed that we deserved better educational and life filling opportunities. Immigrating to the United States at the age of eleven from a place with different cultural expectations was complicated and challenging. Every morning when I left home to attend school, I became acutely aware of the fact that my elementary school lacked diversity. Unfortunately, this lack of exposure to other races and cultures led my schoolmates to bully me daily for being the outcast Egyptian girl who lacked an understanding of the English language. Despite these struggles, being in the United States has allowed me to change my outlook on life and become somebody I never thought possible.
Now, I am a twenty-three-year-old woman, gifted with the ability to speak three languages fluently, and recently completed my Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communication, at Trinity Washington University, an amazing 122-year-old women’s college founded by the Sisters of Notre Dame De Namur. I am thriving at this moment, encouraged by those women who have come before me. I have found a new passion for learning, and for once, I am seeking personal development for my own sake.
To everyone I met through this undergrad journey, I want to say thank you for making me a better person and being there for me when I thought I couldn’t do it. To my professors, thank you for believing in me and challenging me to be an awesome scholar/person.
To ma, I did it for you and me.
Don’t let anyone ever tell you that you’re incapable of pursuing a higher degree. Class of 2020, we did it!
Daniela Vargas, CAS, B.A Health Services
I came to Trinity because I was given a huge opportunity to continue my education. I knew this was my once in a lifetime opportunity to excel and conquer not only for myself, but also for my family. I also understood that I was given this chance because people advocated for my release from ICE detention and I knew then that this degree wasn’t just for me, it was for every single individual that took a stand on my behalf because they believed in my dream. While at Trinity, I learned to always think bigger and bolder. I learned to become a leader by becoming CAA (Campus Activities Association) President alongside a great Vice President, Sam Murillo. Here, I was also able to discover my strength by being a teammate on the Trinity Basketball team. I overcame many obstacles while being here including my family’s deportation, but I was constantly surrounded by faculty and staff that supported us in every way possible. Trinity found many ways to heal my heart and push me to my fullest potential. I found many reasons to smile and enjoy my time on campus and this is why I enjoyed being our mascot “Tina the Tiger” on student acceptance days. I am immensely grateful for everyone that supported my dream and stood by me during this long process.
“Cuando me vean volar recuerden que ustedes me pintaron las alas” “When you see me fly, remember that you’ve painted my wings.”
Arthur Stewart, SPS at THEARC, A.A. General Studies
I am a proud graduate of Trinity at THEARC, School of Professional Studies. I started my journey at Trinity in 2017 as a 56 year old freshman returning to college after 30 years to continue my studies and obtain my degree to be the first in my family to do so. I am so very proud of this accomplishment and very thankful to Trinity Washington University for establishing THEARC to give residents east of the river a more equitable and much needed opportunity to further our education.
Vanessa Ramirez, CAS B.A. Psychology, Minor in Women’s Studies, Soccer Captain
I started Trinity in Fall 2016 as the shy, quiet soccer player who always kept to herself. Before heading into Trinity, I would always think to myself “focus on soccer, focus on your academics and that’s it”. Never in a million years did I think I would have had the opportunities Trinity presented to me.
My freshman year I was welcomed in by the loving soccer team. A team where I was shown love and support from my teammates and the coaching staff. Everyone pushed me to be the best I can, to thrive just like they have. My first year was a big turning point in my college career, it opened my eyes to be the best I can be. My second year, I started to make a change. I became the starting goal keeper for the Trinity Soccer Team, I started working in the Office of Admissions at Trinity, and I gained many friends, but I also found my soulmate. That year, I was awarded the Tiger Award for my dedication to the Soccer team and I knew from there that things would only get better, there would be more opportunities to come. Junior year started, and I knew that I would push myself even harder. I was given the opportunity to be one of the three captains of the Trinity Soccer Team. I declared a minor in Women Studies and I also spent my Practicum at Early Childhood Public Charter School where I was a teacher assistant for Pre-K. You think Practicum means going to the site, doing what you need to do, then finishing the semester. No, not for me. At the end of my Practicum, I was offered a job that would be available for me once I graduate. Senior year came, and I realized it was about to end. I worked hard in the Office of Admissions that I was able to start working with the Data Operations team, I helped recruit players for the soccer team, and I made friends that would be friends for life. Now I am set to graduate in May 2020.
Trinity changed my life. I was exposed to experiences that I can carry with my forever. Trinity brought me out of my shell and I have many to thank for that. The athletic department and head coach Jason, you all believed in me and that allowed me to believe in myself. My professors who challenged me knowing I would be able to complete the work. President McGuire who supported the soccer team by coming to every home game. My family who allowed me to achieve the goal of attending a university. My friends who were with me every step of the way and exposed me to many new things. And last but certainly not least, my girlfriend Gaby, a Trinity Alum, who pushed me and motivated me to finish my time at Trinity strong.
Thank you Trinity for all that you’ve done for me. I am forever grateful, and I am proud to call myself a Trinity Tiger for life.
Irika J. Ford, SPS B.A. Human Relations
I began my journey at Trinity sixteen years ago in the fall of 2004. I lived on campus in Kerby Hall and have meet some of the most amazing people. After, I would go on to complete my sophomore year I left school to take a year break. That year turned into a ten-year sabbatical in the wilderness, where I had to endure some of life’s hardships. During, that time frame I lost my dad to heart failure in 2011 and then my best friend and her mom to a car crash the year after. In addition, I was not satisfied with the occupation I had presumed at the time as a childcare provider.
I wanted more so within than time frame of enduring some of life’s hardships and being dissatisfied with my current position I enrolled back into Trinity in the fall of 2016. I was determined to turn my lost and regret into power and satisfaction. After, enrolling back into school I put in the work and sacrificed my weeknights (after work) and weekends to make it happen. Trinity has provided the safest and most secure academic experience for me. Also, this is a historic accomplishment not just for me but for my family. I will be the second in my immediate family to receive a degree in higher education. If I had to start my journey in higher education all over again Trinity would be my first choice! I would like to thank every professor and academic advisor that believed in me and supported me along the way. Farewell, Trinity it has been a wonderful journey!!!
Lori P. Hatten, CAS B.A. Health Services
Trinity has shaped and molded me into the woman I am today. I owe this degree to God first for always providing, my family second for the love and support, and lastly myself I have worked so hard for this moment! In 2016, I made the decision to go back to school later in life. I remember being full of emotions, scared, excited, and anxious. The idea of having to start completely over was discouraging but I pushed through. The first two years of undergrad I struggled trying to adjust and I never took advantage of the free resources that were available to me on campus. Throughout my entire college experience God has allowed me to connect with the right people at the right time. Professor Kraft was one of those individuals, even though I never had the pleasure of being one his students he treated me as such. His willingness and dedication to teach helped me get through math and many other courses. I will forever be grateful to him along with the other professors I have built close relationships with. They pushed me beyond my measures and put my fear of doubt to rest. The last two years of my academic journey my grades started to excel. I became more and more passionate about my academics, those long nights spent in the library conducting research and utilizing the writing center was well worth this day of completion. As a CAS student being surrounded by all women and life experiences has helped me narrow down the type of work i want to pursue.
Ann Meruh, NHP B.S. Nursing
You find yourself in a foreign country. Yeah!! It’s United States of America, the land of opportunities. Before you settle down you get pregnant. How now? It’s called life. Besides, you’re married. Then two years later you’re divorced, with a toddler and dad is gone back to his home country. Yep, you’re now a single mum! No good job, no relatives, no green card and no more tears because they dried up due to endless overnight cries. Now what? Go back home to nothing or trust God for a better future. The latter sounds more appealing. You put your trust in the Lord and push through. You get citizenship, enroll your son to a catholic private school and start a retail job so that you can have some flexibility to go back to school. Work full time and do your prerequisites on your lunch break…because hey, you can only afford to go to school when your son is at school. You don’t have anyone to help you out. Then you overhear unhappy transfer classmates planning to go back to the college they transferred from. You inquire and research more about it, and bump! You can’t get enough of it. People try to dissuade you from going to this “expensive” college. But you’ve made up your mind, Trinity is calling your name. You enroll in nursing school with no money and a 16hr part time job. You don’t even know how you’ll manage school, work and your child. It’s called faith! Provost Ocampo shows up for you and Conway scholarship makes a great difference. You surrender to God, and let Him lead you. You focus on the goal. That comes with a price. No more sleep, socializing, working out or recreational activities. Your new normal is praying harder, a trillion assignments, quizzes, exams, papers, due dates, labs, clinicals, sleepless nights, eating and more eating and a lot of crying. You press on because you know nothing good comes easily. You have to be uncomfortable to be comfortable. Now here we are. You’re done with nursing school and accepted a job offer two months before you’re done with school. You defied the odds. You made God, your son, parents, siblings and your professors proud. Who said you’re limited? Nothing can limit you but yourself. It’s possible to do the impossible.
Sandra Maria Lacayo, SPS, A.A. Early Childhood Education
I came to the United States in 2006, from Nicaragua, Central America, with a dream “be successful”, and to have a better future for me and my daughters. My work with early childhood children at the Barbara Chambers Children’s Center gave me the opportunity to go Trinity College where my career began in Autumn 2017 in Associated Childhood Education; in this amazing travel and in everything that I accomplish my daughters are always my inspiration to complete my dreams, they motivate me to continue reaching my goals and to take the next step, I want to be an example always to them. It seems to me that it was yesterday that I arrived at the school, full of many doubts but with many dreams, it was a hard trip but I thank many beautiful people who crossed my path in Trinity and made my stay smoother. Today that I have finished my Associate in Early Childhood Education I feel proud of having completed my dream.
Graduating from college is a unique experience. I feel excited because I know that good things are going to come. For all this, I thank God first, then my directors from Barbara Chambers Children’s Center and my program “TEACH” to support me and make my dreams come true.
Fatima Pinkney, CAS B.A. Communication
I was always taught by my father to never give up. Both my parents always wanted more for me and my brothers than what they had at our age. When I first came to Trinity in the fall of 2014 I was so nervous but excited. I had a rocky start my first few semesters … I had never been so upset and I felt like a failure. The truth was that I wasn’t because I had not yet found my place at this school. Although, I left Trinity for about a year and a half, I decided to come back and finish off strong. I got a taste of the real world and decided to remember that my degree will carry me further on in life. I am stronger than I think because I came back to Trinity to be on the Deans Lists 3 semesters in a row. Throughout my hardships, I sacrificed certain friendships & fun times to graduate this year. My professors and counselor believed in me and I could not be more grateful for them. Overall, attending Trinity has taught me that every female had the power to be great in her own way. We have to look out for each other and be each others’ shield. It’s important to fight for the future you want and not apologize for wanting more and that has made me the scholar I am today. Staying in the DMV area and attending this University was the best decision I ever made.
Nayibi Vera-Flota, CAS B.A. Business Administration
Although my senior year came to an end rapidly because of the coronavirus, never in a million years did my family and I think that I would be a first generation university graduate. This BA degree goes to my parents because I would not be where I am today without their continuous support. They have taught me what hard work and dedication looks like. All three years that I attended Trinity Washington University I have been in the honors program, Deans’ list, softball team, and recently I became a member of Phi Betta Kappa. I thank God for the Dream.Us, Don Graham and Trinity for believing in me. With my degree in business administration I hope to inspire many corporations to be sustainable and socially responsible.
Fanny Lizbeth Valencia Rivera, CAS B.A. Business Administration
I was introduced to Trinity Washington University senior year of high school. Cesar Chavez PCS Capitol Hill offered its students an opportunity to attend a local college during their senior year called HISCIP. I remember walking into a business class with Dr. Watts and was mind blown with the commitment she expected from her students. I was a little intimidated. Not by her but by what college was. My teachers in high school referred to me as college girl. Every day I was improving in my writing and began to ask different questions than my peers. It is amazing how much you can accomplish when people believe in you. Every professor in Trinity made me feel that way. It didn’t matter where you were from. All that mattered was the effort put forth. When you decided to take me under your wing. I was scared to admit I was terrified not being good enough to be at Trinity. How would I be able to pay for school with almost no help from my parents. Sophomore year was particularly difficult with my granddad diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and uncle diagnosed with a tumor in his brain. I remember not being able to go to school for a semester. I just couldn’t get up in the morning. I forgot why I wanted to go to school. When it was time to reenroll, I remember looking at the email thinking I can’t give up.
Fast forward senior year, I want to cry with happiness. I made it this far. It seemed so far away freshman year. Looking back, Trinity helped me become the person I am today. Educationally, my writing has improved. I can write critically, analyze a case and research information. Emotionally, I know what I can handle and how to seek help when I need it. Last semester when my grandma died. I knew Trinity had my back. I was able to pass my classes and be there for my family.
A meaningful learning experience in my college career has been BADM 491. I intern at YMCA metropolitan office in DC. Specifically, the philanthropy department. My department partnered with Grant director Tim White to research potential donors and grants. It was a learning experience to adapt to corporate office life and unspoken norms among coworkers. For example, home cooked meals instead of outside buying. Using different databases available to corporate setting to find donors. It exposed me to what environment I would want to work for after college. I like office life, but I would want to travel to different locations. I would have encouraged following speakers on LinkedIn and setting up informational interviews earlier in my college career. It is a great way to find out about different career paths. Also, participate in speaker panels. Work with students to come up with questions to ask panel speakers and encourage field trips to events outside of Trinity relate to topic in class. I enjoyed the convention center conference we were encouraged to attend.
After college graduation, I want start cyber computer certifications while my Air Force application is being reviewed. I have met a couple retired and active service members who are in different career paths. I plan on setting up informal interviews with them on their experience and their transition after active duty. My plan is to serve in the Air Force and attend Law School. After Law school I want to start working on human trafficking issues in the U.S. In 15-20 years work my way towards being a state judge in D.C or Maryland. In 20-30 years become a Supreme Court Judge for the United States of America.
Shandeliha Walker, CAS B.A. Human Relations
I’m a human relations major with a counseling cluster with a minor in education and sociology. I transferred to Trinity in 2017 after take two years off from school and becoming a mom. I choose the right school to come back to I’ve been pushed to the best version of myself.
I transferred to Trinity in 2017 after taking two years off from school. I got pregnant with my son my sophomore of college …when I came back home I was done with school and instantly walking In sacrifice as a mom! I was working and he was happy and healthy. I wasn’t satisfied I wanted to finish what I started so that he never has a thought of he’s the reason I didn’t. Stepping into Trinity was a transition academically they are much harder than the HBCU I attended. With dedication , commitment to studying outside of class, all the right support from my family and the new union of my Trinity sisters I was well on my way. Attending this school has shaped me and matured me in more ways than I can imagine. I can confidently say I’m ready for the next chapter and I know I’ll forever have Trinity behind me. I’m finally done with my degree and I lot of people felt puzzled when they hear my major. Humans relations with a counseling cluster. I also had sociology and education as my minor. I don’t want to be limited and I have the right educational background to succeed in all I want to do. I plan on being a certified peer specialist in the DMV area and being a resource to the place I came from, Trinity Washington University has given me the tools.
Johnathan Weech, EDU M.S.A. Educational Administration
I am a graduate of Virginia Union University. I became a High School Social Studies Teacher after majoring in History/Political Science. Enrolling into the Trinity’s Educational Administration program has been a long journey, I am in the fourth Administration Cohort while also being one out five black males that are in the program. So far in the Administration program, I have completed 28 graduate credits in which you need 36 credits to graduate. While attending graduate school and interning at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, I am living in a single home in Prince George’s County, Maryland with my father, mother, and younger brother.
Academically, I am interested in writing, specifically poems and raps. Outside of school, I am deeply into drawing, art, music, and spending numerous amounts of time going to the local studios in Maryland to record educational mixtapes for my former students. In the field of Education I would like my career to revolve around influencing and writing, which I fondly call “the art of words”, I believe in the power of words to induce change personally and globally. The capacity of words to make someone happy or sad has impressed me so much.
I dedicate myself to providing help to students as well as to professionals who are having a difficult time in their classes. I provide efficient lessons and exercises that help students develop their writing skills or even discover their hidden talents in writing. It is my vision for all people to once again appreciate the art of writing and reading. With the rapid development of technology, young people are losing this skill. It is my mission to help students slow down and truly articulate what they are trying to say.
As I grow in the field of education, I find myself dealing with the diverse concerns of students, parents, faculty, and clients in a professional setting. This has allowed me to adept and operates with the proper mix of authority and diplomacy. I possess excellent organizational and communication skills, an outstanding work ethic, which are key components of upholding a leadership position. I have worked with children in urban and rural settings and understand the challenges they face. It is my goal to help them to reach their full potential.
I have faced many hardships and obstacles throughout the course of my life. My most recent traumatic experience is my dad receiving news that he has prostate cancer. This event truly saddened my family, from then on I found myself in a dark space and a dark place; I did not think that I could ever bounce back. This was the second incident involving my father’s health. Seeing my father go through this situation has motivated me more to completing graduate school and receiving a Master’s degree in Educational Administration.
The Master of Science in Administration (M.S.A.) at Trinity Washington University has prepared me for a leadership position in a school setting of my choice. The degree in Educational Administration will help me successfully lead a high school in the future. The Administration program also has helped me develop the ability to promote high student achievement through data analysis, instructional planning, consensus-building and problem-solving. I am also prepared to use assessments to facilitate instructional planning and to assist teachers in their improvement of instructional techniques through professional development. By joining this cohort program, which meets just one weekend a month for 20 months, Trinity has given me the skills and prepared me to take the School Leadership Licensure Assessment (S.L.L.A.), a requirement for all new school principals in both D.C. and Maryland.
Shenique Reid, CAS B.A. Health Services
My name is Shenique Reid, I major in Health Services, and I will be graduating this spring.
Four years ago, I remember hearing an earsplitting noise in my head constantly reminding me of how my life was over. That marker was placed on me, due to the birth of my first child at the age of 21 years old, and not completing my studies prior. I stand before the world today shouting loud and clear that I did not give up! In fact, I was more determined than ever to disprove the inhospitable responses surrounding my choices. Two years ago, I chose Trinity University to embark on my educational journey. Trinity is a University that is reputable for housing powerful women. I wanted my surroundings to be warm, kind, and supportive of my decisions. I chose to major in health services, because I had a passion for making other people feel good and healthy. I quickly realized that I wanted to be a medical doctor, dedicating my life to helping others feel good. Being at Trinity has granted me the opportunity to intern at Howard University School of Pharmacy during the summer of 2019. I have also made a life long dedication to volunteer and intern at a HIV clinic here in Washington DC, where I shadow a wide range of physicians, learning the various roles of my future career. Most importantly I have learned to care for others beyond a health care setting. In my senior year I interned at CASA de Maryland an organization that lobbies and campaigns for immigrant rights. It was my absolute pleasure serving the immigrant community, and standing on the front lines with them during their time of need. As my senior year comes to an end, my journey to medical school is beginning. I will be starting graduate school this summer, pursuing a Master of Public Health degree (MPH). After obtaining my MPH, I will dedicate the remainder of my journey, to work on obtaining a Medical Doctorate degree. I would truly like to say Thank you Trinity, for believing in me and molding me into the honor student that I am today.
Lashaya Gray, CAS B.A. Psychology
Four years ago, I never knew that Trinity would shape me into the young woman I am today. I did not know my own strength or how much I could handle until I attended Trinity. There were semesters where I doubted myself as I stayed up until two in the morning studying and completing assignments. However, I continued my path telling myself “You got this!” I was able to realize how much I wanted for myself in life and to be proud of every accomplishment no matter how small they seemed. I learned to not be easily discouraged and understood that some people would cheer me on every step of the way while others would not always show their support, but that was alright. I also experienced unexpected obstacles along the way, but that never stopped me. The challenges only increased my faith, made me stronger and thrive more to chase after my dreams. Trinity showed me that anything you want in life is possible as long as you believe in yourself. Most importantly, there is always light at the end of every tunnel.
Lena Honey Jones, CAS B.A. Early Childhood Education
I didn’t start my college journey at Trinity but I am happy I made the decision to transfer. After my senior year of high school, I was set on going to a small school in North Carolina called Guilford College to study health sciences. I went for about a semester in a half but made the challenging decision to leave, come back home to D.C, and take some time off. During this time, I decided I wanted to pursue a nursing major in order to become a midwife to support and educate those who give birth. I began this pursuit by becoming a part-time student at Howard University while I continued to look for schools in the area to attend full-time. This is when I found Trinity and, in the Spring of 2017, I became a member of the Trinity community. I loved the classes I was taking, the professors I had, and the energy of the school. I realized that Trinity was a better fit for me than my original first choice.
A year flew by and the Spring 2018 semester was about to start when I had a small epiphany: the main reasons I wanted to become a midwife was to be an educator and support system. I reflected on my experience as a peer sexual health educator in high school, a new peer math tutor at Trinity, and the immense amount of childcare experience I had. In all of these roles I was a support system and educator; they all brought me great joy so, I decided to switch my major to Early Childhood Education. This was one of the best decisions I’ve made. When I started taking education classes, the work didn’t always feel like work because it was interesting and I knew that it was worthwhile. Teaching is my passion and although there were ups and downs, I think Trinity was the place I needed be to pursue this major. I put 110% into my work and received straight A’s in all of my classes as well as made the Dean’s List every semester. Although my plan was to graduate in the Spring of 2019, plans changed and Spring 2020 was what was meant to be. I wasn’t in every club and I didn’t go to every social event but Trinity ended up being my place and I thank my family member for showing it to me.
Tanaia Broxton, CAS B.A Sociology
“Anything you imagine you possess”
Gabriela Martinez Chevez, CAS B.A. Business Administration
I came to the U.S. from El Salvador when I was just 4 years old. 18 years later, I never imagined that I would be checking off this accomplishment from my to-do list. God has truly been faithful and has paved the way for me to succeed. These last four years at Trinity have been some of the most critical years of my life filled with many valuable lessons. From the horrible losses such as losing my father to a painful battle with cancer my junior year. To the joyful triumphs such as finding out my younger sister received a full ride to Trinity for Fall 2020, God has been there through it all. It is my hope that I can go out into the world and make a positive contribution to society with the lessons I have learned here. Trinity empowered me and offered a safe haven that I will forever treasure. To President McGuire, the administration, my professors, advisors, and Trinity sisters: thank you for all your support and guidance these last four years. To Don Graham, Gaby Pacheco, and the team at the Dream.US: thank you for allowing me to fulfill my parents dream when they brought me to this country and for believing in me. To my friends, family, church members, and support system: thank you for all your prayers and words of encouragement, they mean the world to me. To my father, mother, sister, and brother: thank you for your love and for always inspiring me to succeed. This accomplishment is dedicated to you! I know if my father were still here, I would have made him so proud. Dad, we did it! Glory to God!
Erika Brown, EDU M.S.A. Educational Administration
My name is Erika Brown and I have been traveling with Cohort IV through the CAEP Educational Administration program. My ambition, determination, and drive all come from negative aspects when people have told me I can’t do things. I went to Kutztown University for my undergrad. It was there that one of the professors said that I was a horrible student and will be an even worse teacher. I am now a Middle School Science teacher and have been for the last 5 years. It was a rocky start but through the years I became one of the leading educators in my school. It was in these five years that I saw some great administrators and some…not so great administrators. This was the driving force that told me to go into educational leadership. This program has helped me grow and develop into the person I am today with the ideas that could one day hope to revolutionize the educational system. I am graduating with my Masters of Science in Administration (M.S.A.) and a 4.0 GPA. (yes, I am a Harry Potter nerd 🙂 )
Imani A. Coleman EDU, M.E., Education for Change
I am a 4th generation educator who truly believes in the power of education. Having taught for 23 years I understand where education can take you. I have recently moved to Charlotte, NC where I am continuing the educational fight in Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools and through my educational consulting business, The Apple Core Educational Consulting. I specialize in working with both teachers and families in understanding how to best work with the many students that come to us having experienced different traumas.
Malika Shakur, CAS B.A. Business Administration
Hello this is Malika Shakur writing about thanking the school for letting me achieve my goals of getting a bachelor’s degree. It’s been a long journey for me and I’m finally done. It’s still unbelievable that I’ve achieved this long awaited goal. Now I can pursue my dream of becoming a teacher one day.
Daniel Lee Ruffin III, SPS B.S. Human Relations
I started my academic career at Trinity in the Spring semester of 2015 as an adult student. Since then I have overcome a few hurdles in ensuring the success of my academic goals. I appreciate each and every challenge because nothing stopped me from accomplishing my goals. Completing this journey of receiving my degree was something I never dreamed I would accomplish. I have spent many years dreaming of continuing my education as I began this journey in 2003 as a soldier in the US Army. Even as I served my country honorably I knew I wanted to further my education and better my chances of a successful career and life. I am a Washingtonian and this journey has been extra inspiring to me because of the challenges I faced alongside some of D.C.’s strongest and brightest students as well as professors. There were plenty of times studying at Trinity Washington University I thought I would not make it and whenever I would have a negative thought or mood like that, I was always reminded by one or more of my classmates’ strengths and tenacity. Observing their overcoming struggles inspired me to continue on to the finish line, and here I am. My experience at Trinity Washington has shaped my belief in my ability to accomplish the goals I set forth in my life and I have more confidence than I ever had before completing this academic transition. Now I can say “we did it” the Red Class of 2020 in the midst of COVID19 we overcame and conquered adversity together. Thank you, Go Trinity!
Sandra Berenice Mendez Banales, CAS B.S. Biology
It gives me great pleasure as a Latina to graduate with a degree in science. I am a first generation college graduate and this journey has been nothing but a learning experience filled with growth, perseverance, and much fulfillment! I worked so hard in the hopes of being able to repay my parents for their sacrifices. They left their country for a better future, and I pushed myself for them and my siblings. Trinity Washington University has been the biggest support system I could have ever hoped for. I thank the professors, the academic advisors, the rest of Trinity faculty and especially President Mcguire who had every students back, in making sure we had everything we needed to be successful. Trinity also introduced me to the most supportive and loving friends I have ever met. I thought I would be leaving Trinity with only my undergraduate degree, but I am taking so much more with me for life and for that I am GRATEFUL! A proud #RedClassof2020 !!
Estelito Villarta, BGS, M.S. A. Health Advocacy
While graduation is a thrilling moment, experiences in accomplishing my MSA major in Health Advocacy is one of a kind. I am grateful for finding Trinity for the MSA Graduate Studies I have chosen. First, being a Christian found this school as my second family in the USA. Secondly, as an international student, Trinity people understand and defending human beings regardless of any race without compromising the truth of moral, legal, and ethical integrity of this nation. 3rdly, I thank the Trinity Department of Disability Services in accepting and giving me a part-time job as a note-taker to sustain my family’s needs. I enjoyed the job since it likewise gives me further knowledge and understanding from many different courses I work with. The two years of studying at Trinity became fruitful in learning health-related issues about becoming Health Advocate. My internship in home care gave me the heart of sympathy too and challenged to develop a program on how to take care of aging people with dementia. The choice of research studies and my capstone project were the most interesting and challenging. Not because it may be the hardest but it was co-incidence with the pandemic and family status problems I encountered. The last two semesters of my studies were the most painful and hopeless moments of my life and for my family. But these are also the most critical part of my studies that I have learned a lot and grew up maturely and emotionally of being a graduate student. I acknowledge all professors and my brilliant adviser, Dr. Kelly Wood, for the hardship and patiently teaching us and directing us to all possible resources that could help. His words of encouragement pay to press on and made me accomplished those course projects. On behalf of my family, I would like to thank the Trinity for the wonderful time I spend with you in my studies. Rest assured that wherever I go, all the good things and learnings from this institution will become part of my life to share with others as an ambassador of Trinity University. And if given the chance, I will be happy to continue joining the staff of the Trinity in whatever endeavors I will be fit in after graduation.
April Shannon, EDU, M.S. A. Educational Administration
Deciding to attend Trinity Washington University School of Education was a no-brainer after I spent an afternoon speaking with a colleague about her experience in the Educational Administration graduate program. I enrolled immediately! Five semesters and a whole lot of writing later….I MADE IT! Of course this victory is not mine alone! I thank God and all of my village, including my amazing children, who always encourage me to keep pushing! This road has not been easy but it has certainly been worth it! Every experience along this journey has made me better. Trinity has shown me that I possess exactly what leaders are made of. Through rigorous instruction, readings, and coursework, Trinity Washington University has taken what I walked in with and cultivated it in such a way that allows me to walk out with a leader’s mind, a servant’s heart, and a purple and gold soul! ??
Vivian Idowu, BGS, M.A. Strategic Communications and Public Relations
My name is Vivian Idowu and I am a first-generation Nigerian-American. Raised by my mother and father in Upper Marlboro, MD and being the last born of three, my life felt planned out for me. I was advised by my parents that education was a must and education would route me into a great direction. Typical Nigerian parents want their children to graduate from high school and head off to a college or university to seek medical school, nursing, accounting, or engineering degrees. For me, my parents told me “do what you love, but be sure it makes sense.” That basically meant “study an area of science and God will direct you to the field of healthcare.”
In May 2014, I graduated from Morgan State University with a BS in Biology. I graduated knowing that Pharmacy was meant for me. In my family, we have many medical doctors, nurses, and engineers, so I decided I’ll be the Pharmacist out of the bunch. A few days after I graduated from undergrad, I became a pharmacy technician at Rite Aid, which helped me to build my communication skills and advanced my fight or flight responses. While working in the pharmacy, I built a friendly and emotional relationship with the patients but I knew that I wanted to work more hands on with them. I left the pharmacy after working there for 2 years and started working with ophthalmologists during eye procedures where I had more patient contact.
There I was in August 2016, working under eye surgeons trying to be the best ophthalmic technician there was. I loved the relationships I was building with the patients and my coworkers, but something was just not right. My 20’s were flying by and finally in 2018 I had a moment with myself. I was 26 years-old, getting way too comfortable working for angry doctors, becoming an advocator for better patient care in my office, while crying at night as I became more open-minded about my future; I realized, I had hit a roadblock. I knew my parents were proud of all my achievements and my drive to succeed, yet I knew they felt I could achieve more.
One day after work I told my mother, “I am going to nursing school because a patient at work told me I am the greatest healthcare aid she ever met.” My mom replied, “you’re good at everything you put your mind to therefore, do it! In fact, apply to Trinity.” My mom started her Masters at Trinity and had nothing but great things to say about the University. The same day, I registered for Trinity’s nursing orientation. One evening, after a long day of work, I traveled to Trinity only to hear that the next day was the orientation for the nursing program and the current day was for their SCPR and MBA programs. I was told to stay to learn more about the University and I would also be given information about the nursing program. Then, I met Dr. Clemmons and within minutes, I was sold. I questioned myself, “how could I fall in love with the program by just listening to a person speak in less than an hour? Is this destined or is this all a prank?”
I applied to Trinity and the day I was accepted, I resigned from my job. I decided to start doing hair again which is my hobby in order to make money. My mom was proud, and she told me to pay close attention to my Trinity email because they want their students to succeed. My Trinity email became just as important as my personal email. It was August 2018 and I was in a field that I never envisioned for myself, but I knew my vision and thoughts were clearer. For once, I made my own decisions without comparing myself to my family members. My journey at Trinity had a few ups and downs, but I managed. What made me procrastinate on assignments were late nights applying for employment opportunities since communications and PR were brand new fields for me. In December 2018, I went to an interview at a non-profit for a PR internship opportunity and got denied. In January 2019, I wrote the non-profit back and asked if I could shadow someone or volunteer for direct experience and they were delighted. I went in a few days later, sat with the CEO of the program, and was offered the position after 3 hours of dialogue. I was shocked, but I knew that this new career journey was starting on the right shoe.
In April 2019, Trinity sent out an email for an internship program with the Department of Energy (DOE) and I did not think twice before I applied. I was denied but because rejection does not put me down, I sent an email asking if they could reach out to me if other opportunities opened. In August 2019, I received an email asking if I wanted to work as a Communications intern at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Do you think I thought more than once? No. I applied, got accepted, and said ta-ta to my first enjoyable PR experience. The VA internship was 16-weeks long and at the end I was offered a full-time employee position which I thankfully accepted! Today I am happy to say, I serve Veterans and I work on a thrilled and enthusiastic Strategic Communications team. I share my story in detail so readers can relate. I hit a roadblock and faced unclarity yet, I kept faith. In our society, it is easy to give up and way too easy to compare ourselves to others, but opportunities are out there; our job is to chase them. Taking risks and rerouting my career path was one of the best decisions I made for myself. Not looking at my calendar correctly which made me walk into the wrong then, but now correct orientation was a great decision too! From the amazing faculty at Trinity who made my journey tough, fun, hysterical, or close to perfect, I commend them all. If not for Trinity, I would not be where I am today!
Diane Tilghman, SPS, B.A. Journalism and Media Studies
In 1983, married, in a full-time demanding career and carrying my first child, I started my educational journey to college part-time. I did not have the support, the luxury or the privilege to go straight from high school. None-the-less, when I did finally enroll, it was a lot to manage. It did not take long for me to make the decision to take a 4-year sabbatical to focus on family and career. I did however, go back to college in 1988; then another 8-year sabbatical. Again, career/family/school was extremely difficult to manage; and at the time, career was a higher priority. I went back to college again in 1997-1999, took another 6-year sabbatical. After which time, I transferred to Trinity Washington University School of Professional Studies (SPS) Spring 2006-2007. Still managing marriage, and now a new job, and my son in college. I stayed at Trinity for 2-years followed by, yet again, another 6-year sabbatical.
After my second enrollment at Trinity in 2013, I continued uninterrupted for the next 7-years until finally, 2020 completion. Adding the years, start to finish, I have been going to college off and on part-time for 37 years, taking 1-2 classes per semester. Of which 20 of those years were focused on family and career. After readmission to Trinity in 2013, obtaining my degree, became my priority.
I owe this determination to get my degree to, first of all, my son, who was my inspiration. I could not in good conscious insist upon him obtaining his degree if I did not do the same. My husband, key family members and friends were also very supportive of my journey. But Trinity’s School of Professional Studies program really made it possible. I thank God for the faculty. The program was instrumental in my matriculation and ultimate graduation.
For the readmission, I had to write a letter to Trinity to explain why I should be readmitted, and what would keep me from taking another sabbatical. At this time, I made up my mind, no more breaks. I had supported my son through his years of grade school and through college. I made a promise to myself that once he graduated from college, I was going back to finally get my degree. Not only was this a personal goal, it was also a promise I made to myself, of which I shared my planned-goal with my son. In fact, I started telling family and friends I was going to go back to complete my education. My thought process was to speak it into existence. This made me more accountable to myself.
But I also had something to prove to someone else, my (late) foster-mother who had zero confidence in my abilities and determination (she passed many years ago). The foster family was in it for the money, but that is another story. As a product of a foster mother (who was not college educated) she discouraged me from the thought of attaining a higher education. At the age of 11 years old, I will never forget the words she told me when I asked if I would “be able to go to college when I grow up”. Her response was “you are not college material”. Those words were quite piercing to hear for an ambitious young girl.
However, the drive to obtain my college education did not stop at that uninspired comment. In fact, my thoughts were fueled in the opposite direction. In my mind, I thought why not? However, it did instill doubt that maybe college was not my path. But I am a “go getter”. As I grew through life’s challenges, I focused on building relationships, and creating opportunities that led to financial successes in my career. Pursuing my degree was always on my heart, and something I felt I needed to do, for myself. Anything worth having is going to be hard to get. It was not an easy road to travel over the last 37 years, but it sure feels good to know that I did it. Thanks to Trinity Washington University, School of Professional Studies, I am proud to say that I have earned my Baccalaureate of Arts in Journalism and Media Studies and accomplished an educational goal, once thought to be unreachable.
Marcel Brown, EDU, M.A. School Counseling
This is my second masters degree from Trinity. I appreciate all the great and knowledgeable faculty embedded within Trinity culture. I have learned so much from my experiences here. I remember beginning my recent school counseling journey a little over three years ago, and thinking this degree was going to be a breeze. Boy was I mistaken lol! I was stretched and challenged beyond my imagination. I feel all the sacrifices I endured assisted in my preparation for mentoring and preparing the next generation of youth. I had the privilege of networking with some wonderful people along the way, and thanks to Dr. Reese met numerous ASCA board members and the CEO of ASCA. I would like to share with you a feature that was done on me and published by The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) in the May/June 2020 edition. The magazine is also available online and for all ASCA members in printed form. Again thanks so much and BIG SHOUT OUTS to the Class of 2020!!!
Tenea Harris, EDU, M.S.A. Educational Administration
This moment is truly a full-circle moment for me. I graduated from Trinity as a Red Class member with my BA in Communications in 2008 during an economic crisis and now I am graduating as a Red Class member with my Masters in Education Administration during a pandemic. The most important thing that stands out to me is that no matter what obstacles life may throw, you have to stay focused. The 2008 economic crisis helped me realize teaching was my passion and a career that would allow me to evolve into being the type of leader that my community needs. Through the process of earning my Masters, I learned about ACEs and how students are dealing with adverse experiences. I learned that I have been through extreme ACEs but I have never let those stop me. My goal is to always be the voice for the voiceless. I want to make sure that I never forget where I came from, but to humbly appreciate where I am and where the future will take me. I want to thank God and my husband. My husband has sacrificed a lot of time for me to complete this process and has been one of the consistent rocks since I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree. I also want to thank my family, friends, and my cohort (Cohort 4) because they have supported me through this process. This degree was one I knew I would get, but there were times I doubted myself throughout the process. I am forever grateful for the professors who have helped open my eyes to the type of leader that is needed in today’s educational climate. The knowledge I have gained has opened up my eyes to what makes a great leader and helped establish what type of leader I will be. My eyes are now looking to the future because nevertheless, both important milestones in my life have let me know nothing can stop me now.
Sherri Boulet, SPS, B.S. Business Administration
“Trials, Testimony, Trinity”
“Through Trials I have overcome to share my Testimony as One”. Thank you, Trinity for mending my broken heart!
In 2011 when I started my journey at Trinity, I was excited and determined to finish. Not only for myself, but “in honor” of my late beloved brother, Curtis who knew how to challenge me. In 1978 when Curtis came home from graduating from college, I congratulated him for his accomplishment. In return, he said, “now let me see you go to college and finish.” Curtis continued, “anyone can go, but can they finish?” I said “Yes!” as if it would be easy. Little did I know at that time how life brings additional challenges. With my brother’s inspiring words of encouragement in mind, I registered at Trinity in the fall of 2011 to 2013.
Coming up on the finish line in 2013 with 9 credits needed to graduate, my world came to an abrupt turn of events. I lost my job and financial aid had ran out. Plus, difficulties and delays had occurred due to the shortfall in my revenue stream. Neither grants nor scholarships were available. I had no choice but to withdraw and realign my priorities.
2014 passed by as well as the years moving rapidly from 2015 through 2018. During which time, I kept running into old Trinity classmates who had already graduated. These encounters and self-motivation reminded me to go back and finish. It was as though I had a mirrored conversation with my brother all over again.
Finally, in 2019, Trinity welcome me back with open arms. Here I stand with a smile from my beloved brother looking down. My current situation was fluid enough to get this matter completed.
This journey has prepared me for a more bountiful/blissful life and given me the initiative to help others succeed. I was honored to serve on the Spring 2020 New Student Orientation Panel. While representing the Trinity family from Enrollment Services, Business Office, the Counselors, the Dean and her office, it was enticing to instill in other potential students a sense of perspective direction. Most importantly, the Professors who not only teach classroom lessons but give you real life scenario assignments.
“Hear my ROAR” Trinity Tigers! I will always be here to help others finish Strong!