Voices of Trinity: Class of 2023 Success!

Congratulations to the Class of 2023!  So many great achievements… this Gold Class continues Trinity’s 125 year-old tradition of academic excellence, leadership and service in the many communities our graduates influence.  Below are some of the great stories of our graduates — and check back all week as we add more!

Joyce Jones, SPS, BA in Human Relations

Joyce gave these remarks at Commencement on May 19 on behalf of the students:

President McGuire, Deans, Professors, and graduates,

I want to thank you. I have experienced tremendous support from so many of you. It has been refreshing to see people who care so deeply for others.

During my time here at Trinity, I have witnessed your passion and compassion. There’s always a fellow classmate that was willing to meet in person, connect through Zoom or get on a call to help someone else work through a challenging assignment or to offer words of encouragement. We all have come together in one way shape or form to either provide our strengths in areas where another may have been a little weak; to elevate someone’s understanding through discussions and debates; and many times, just being a listening ear when someone is a bit overwhelmed. All are ways we’ve shown how much we care for each other and how the end goal is success for all. This sense of community at Trinity is unparalleled. Now we must take it into the world with us.

I believe that the sense of community that we exemplify here at Trinity is the answer to all the ills of our day.  As you work in healthcare, in business, in social work, take your ability to lead, help, elevate, and inform decisions. I can’t help but wonder, if we were in position to work with other nations leveraging our strengths and theirs to address health concerns, how that would have changed the impact of the COVID pandemic, or if we were strategically positioned in government, that we would promote the understanding that to support a woman is to support a nation. It would lead us to achieving equity for women, or if I dare to wonder a bit further, how extensive the impact would be if individuals followed our lead and prioritized caring for people. These individuals would bring about a significant change in the way big corporations do business. Employing mission statements that bring about success for all. Let’s take this sense of community… sharing our strengths, elevating other’s understanding, and caring for others… into the spaces where we work.

This is the very thing God has called us to be… a strong community. He said to love Him with all your heart, mind, and soul and to love others as yourselves and that this is the greatest commandment. God himself commands community. You’ve already demonstrated that you know how to do this. So go into the world and create success for all.

Thank you.

Asia Collins, CAS, BA in Criminal Justice

My name is Asia Collins, I am from Washington DC and a first generation college graduate! I will be receiving my bachelors degree in Criminal Justice. I am also a transfer student from Old Dominion University; I transferred my sophomore year because my second freshmen semester I found out I was two months pregnant and did not have the family or financial support to succeed. At the time I was faced with a life changing decision “do I stay at ODU without a child or do I take the risk of becoming a mom at 19 years old and transfer.” I chose the challenge, although I went through many obstacles being a first time mom; domestic violence (survivor), my child’s health problems, and mental health issues. However I did not allow myself to deteriorate from my main goal to graduate on time within these four years. I’ve learned that I am capable of dreaming, living, and learning . I will never be able to thank my mom, professors, Karen Gerlach, and my scholarship mentors enough for believing in me and being a major support during my pregnancy and once my son arrived. Not knowing that my son would go through two brain surgeries during my Sophomore semester; they gave me faith that I needed to still further my education still and to not allow myself to forget my desires, I’ll never forget my Professors praying over me and my son and having the utmost patience with me completing assignments and my attendance. I dedicate this major accomplishment to my son Zane; thank you for being my motivation. I want you to look at your mom and remember you have to believe deep in your heart that you are capable of achieving anything you put your mind to; that you will never fail, you will either win or learn. But remember to never give up and aim to succeed in every task. 

Angela Young, SPS, Journalism and Media Studies

This is what “never giving up even after 30+ years looks like!”  Journalism & Media major Angela Young exclaimed, “You too can do it!”   Spread the word about Trinity Washington University’s School of Professional Studies (SPS), a place where working-class people of all ages may realize their aspirations and discover their strengths and talents.  I did!

The working class may make the most of their time in class and manage their time between work and family responsibilities thanks to its flexible evening and weekend programs, expedited semesters, and eight-week terms. Please click here to find out more about Trinity’s SPS program and be motivated by a remarkable success story that serves as evidence of this program’s effectiveness.: https://trinitydctimes.com/2023/03/21/older-students-find-life-changing-triumphs-through-school-of-professional-studies/

Shanita M. Williams-Young, NHP, Bachelor of Science in Nursing

As a transfer student, I transitioned to the School of Nursing and Health Professions at Trinity Washington University, pursuing my bachelor of science in nursing, where my most recent accomplishments include designation as a Conway Scholar. This degree, my 2nd Degree BSN, is actually my third degree. With no slight to the others that I worked very hard to earn as well, this to me, is the most meaningful. You see, that yearn came years ago. Ever since I was a young child, I knew that I wanted to be a nurse, and when asked, I would tell one so. Being intrinsically rooted, that yearn NEVER went away; not even the highest collegiate achievements could take that away: graduating summa cum laude, countless Dean’s List standings, holding top national as well as international honor society memberships, NOTHING. Although I inquired into the program prior, it was while attending my goddaughter’s graduation ceremony as a 2nd Degree BSN, that I looked around, thinking to myself that I could actually do this. So, on to Trinity I headed!

I started my first semester in the nursing program during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, on crutches, with two broken toes! Add in life adversities, losses, and setbacks, even put in positions to choose between my job and my career. Through it all, I had a support system that believed in me, when at times, things seemed no way possible. Despite the look, always encouraged, I continued to work hard, pushing on. I cried, I prayed, and cried more. I was the motivator, telling everyone else “You’ve got this!” However, I had to learn to do the same for myself, and own it, which I did!

This time last year, my life was totally different. I have no doubt that I made the right decision for me, at the right time, MY TIME! Every sacrifice made was well worth it! This may sound cliché-ish, but I mean it with all sincerity; if I did it, you can too! NEVER give up, stay determined, hold on to your faith; all it takes is that the size of a mustard seed. I persevered, and finally, I am a nurse! I am TRULY blessed! If there was road signage reading “Hardest Road This Way,” I would have to say, I took it. Not by choice, no one wants that path. However, life happens, and to the very best of us. Yet, I am here! This goal has been a long-time coming, and I am ecstatic to say that I MADE IT!!!

Annissa Young, CAS, BA in Business Administration

As my time comes to an end at Trinity, I have been extremely emotional for the past few weeks. What a tremendous 4 years it has been. Before Trinity, I was never keen to share my story. Looking back at Annissa in 2019, I have changed so much – from a shy young lady who always sits in the back of the classrooms to a student leader and a young lady who isn’t afraid to use her voice.

Seven years ago, my sisters and I migrated to the United States and it has been a roller coaster since then. Because of my undocumented status in the country, I was unable to receive federal grants or scholarships to attend university. The recruiter from Trinity came to Laurel High School and so I decided to apply. When I received my acceptance letter, I was overjoyed and more so because I was offered the Leadership Scholarship. But, that was not my only obstacle. I knew that it would be difficult for me to receive internships and other job opportunities and so I hid in a corner, afraid to share my story.

It was not until I met some of the most amazing women on campus that were DACA recipients and other undocumented students did I realize that I was never alone. These ladies were my motivators to go after a better life, to achieve something that my family had been fighting for. It was through Trinity that I received the CSIS and CGS fellowships. Additionally, both my majors offered internship courses (BADM 491 and PSYC 490). And now, I have successfully completed four internships since I started Trinity. This is not a small thing for me.

The support of my sisters, professors and other members of staff, especially Ms.Soulyka is the key reason why I am here today.  I just wanted to thank you for creating a genuine environment for young ladies like myself that share similar stories. It will always mean more than you know. Even though my status still has not changed and I am awaiting my permanent residence, unsure of my future, I know that I will find a way forward. The values that were instilled me throughout my time here will always be used as guidance. Trinity will always be home for me and I just wanted you to how thankful I am.

Shytia Russell, CAS, BA in Health Services

I am a first-generation college student and graduate. In 2019 my journey began at Trinity Washington University when I decided that Trinity was the school for me. I chose Trinity because I liked their nursing program and my dream was to become a nurse midwife. College was hard and I faced a lot of challenges but I always kept a positive optimistic mindset and I was determined to always overcome any obstacle that came my way. As my junior year started things started to change and I did not get into the nursing program so I had to come up with another plan for myself. I was stuck and felt like I had failed myself and did not have any interest in pursuing anything else.

I learned about the Health Services major and was interested in switching my major to that. Once I cleared my head and thought about other things I was interested in learning I discovered while working at a cybersecurity company that I wanted to learn more about the technology field. I soon discovered that Trinity had a Data Analytics program and I did a lot of research before making my final decision to pick it up as a minor. I was extremely nervous and cried a lot once I made the final decision to switch majors and pick up a minor. Looking back now at the decision I made, it was the best decision for me. So many doors and opportunities have opened for me since I made that decision.

I went through many obstacles and overcame them, which made me stronger, smarter and wiser. I have made a lot of connections with the students, faculty, and staff here at Trinity which I am highly grateful for. I even became a member of one of the greatest sororities which is Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc my senior year! Looking back I would not change anything about my journey. Since freshman year I’ve been on the dean’s list, participated in campus activities, had a campus job, and worked three internships and I am happy to say that I have completed most of the goals finally I had set for myself. On May 20th, 2023 I will be graduating from Trinity


Rosmery Martinez Nix, SPS, BA in Early Childhood Education

I am from El Salvador. I moved to live here in 2017. When I arrived in, I knew I wanted to continue with my studies, so I enrolled in Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School to improve my English language skills. At the same time, I enrolled in a bilingual university to pursue my professional career as an Early childhood educator. During the first two years, I had many challenges because I was learning English, I was in the university taking some courses during the weekends to advance in my career, and I was working a full-time job. It was frustrating at the beginning because moving to a different country with a different language and culture is challenging. Still, I worked hard to adapt to the life I had, and little by little, my English was improving, and I was feeling more confident about my personal and professional life.

In 2020, the university I was attending closed, and I had to look for other options. At first, I saw that situation negatively because I thought I needed to start over again; however, after I analyzed the situation, I was grateful for everything because that situation helped me to open my mind to new possibilities and opportunities. At that time, my English level was much better, so I decided to apply to different universities that offered classes only in English. One of those universities was Trinity Washington University. After I applied, I was anxious about which university would respond first. So, after a few days, I received an email from Trinity saying that they accepted me. I was so excited because even if it was a different educational setting, I knew I was prepared for that. I was also happy because I could transfer most of the courses I took at my previous university.

I started at Trinity in the Fall of 2020, and since then, I have had great learning experiences. So, I am thankful to Trinity for believing in me and helping me to grow personally and professionally. At Trinity, I gained more confidence in myself and felt part of a great community. I am thankful to T.E.A.C.H. and DC lead scholarship for supporting me financially to accomplish my goal of finishing my career. I am grateful for my family and friends, who motivated me to keep going. I am proud to have obtained my Bachelor’s degree in Early childhood community education.

Kendra Glass, BGS, Masters in Business Administration

My name is Kendra Glass, a native Washingtonian. I am a first-generation college graduate in my family. I received my undergraduate degree in Criminal Justice at Trinity Washington University in 2015. I decided to enroll into the graduate school program during the pandemic in Fall 2020. My goal was to come out of the pandemic better than when I started.

During my second year enrolled in the graduate program, I was blessed with a healthy baby boy in November 2022.  Although I had a high-risk pregnancy and put on bedrest, I remained focused and determined to complete my degree without interruptions. The Professors were understanding, flexible, and challenged me in more ways than I could imagine. I am so thankful for my peers I met during graduate school, who supported me with late night study sessions and provided a listening ear when things got tough.

Walking across the stage to receive my MBA degree is a dream come true. My degree is dedicated to my six-month-old son and all the mothers who want to pursue a higher education. Stay positive and believe in yourself.  Congratulations class of 2023!



Angela White, SPS, BA in Journalism and Media Studies

I always say that I am the perfect example of there being no limit to what God can and will do. My academic journey has been less than ideal, however, if I had the opportunity to do it again, I would. I started Trinity back in 2018. I was a transfer student. I felt discouraged when I began since the last two schools I attended did not go so well. Every professor I have had at Trinity has been supportive in pushing me far beyond my limits and ensuring my overall success throughout the years.

There were so many times I could have given up, and there were so many times I could have thrown in the towel, but through faith, perseverance, and support from my family and close friends, I have made it to the finish line. Besides financial struggles, working full time (sometimes more than one job at a time), family life, grief, and managing everyday life stressors, my mental health struggled a lot throughout my academic journey.

I fought through depression, anxiety, and manic episodes due to my diagnosis. One of my professors would open the class with the question, “How are you feeling mentally?”, you had the option of if you wanted to participate, but knowing a safe space was created for us, I knew that Trinity was the university for me. While we are students, we are human first. That sense of humanity from my professors helped me navigate this journey despite often feeling like my mental health would get the best of me.

During my final semester at Trinity, I had the opportunity to be a part of the relaunch of the Trinity Times digital platform via my Capstone course. Being a correspondent gave me the boost I needed and was the perfect outlet to build confidence in my journalism skills and writing. I want to give a special shoutout to Chaz Muth. Thank you for your leadership.

I am thankful for all the financial support Trinity has given me throughout the years, the Clark and Cafritz Scholarship, and DC Futures.

Last year, I lost my grandmother. We often talked about my finishing school and how she would be front row cheering me on. I am sad she is not here. However, I know I have made her proud as a first-generation grad.

Thank you, Trinity!

Anonymous, NHP, Bachelor of Science in Nursing

My Journey as a BSN student at Trinity was a brave and hopeful one. I attribute my success as a Trinity student to God, my family, and to the amazing staff of the NHP department. Failure is not an end to anything, it is a beginning to something greater; never give up on your dreams. 


Dongo Kaka, CAS, BS in Biology, Phi Beta Kappa
Katherine Johnson Award Winner

Dongo wrote to Jurate Kazickas ’64, benefactor who created the Katherine Johnson Award:

I feel honored and beyond grateful to accept the Katherine Johnson Award. I am a Biology Major student graduating in May 2023.  I loved studying Biology at Trinity Washington University. I came from Ethiopia in 2015 to pursue a better education and become a doctor. I want to build hospitals in Ethiopia in the future and address the lack of advanced medical equipments. There are a lot of barriers for immigrants pursuing STEM majors in U.S but Trinity has helped me overcome many hardships such as finding research projects that allow immigrants to apply.

I have been working with different research projects and internships to prepare for med school and get closer to my dreams. I was able to do 3 research projects with my STEM professors in Trinity. Two of the research projects were based on improving students’ academic performance in school, while one of my research focused on studying the social behaviors of Chimpanzees in Tanzania. My professor, Dr. Wellens and I focused on Grooming reciprocity of male chimpanzees in Tanzania. I also participated in other internships outside of Trinity. Currently I am in intern in an organization called Yene foundation, in which I find and apply to grants to fund Parkinson’s disease patients in Ethiopia. We plan to fund the organization PPSO-E (Parkinson’s disease Patient Support of Ethiopia) which  provides free medication, medical equipment, therapists and other required resources for patients who can not afford one.

After graduation, I plan to take a gap year to get more clinical experience and attend med school. This award will help me transition from the dorm to real housing. I was praying that God would give me a way to be financially stable when I graduate and he provided a way. Thank you so much for the recognition. Awards like these are what helped me focus on working towards my goal without worrying about my financial state. I feel beyond grateful and honored to accept the Katherine Johnson Award. Thank you again!

Keisha Thompson, BGS, MA in Strategic Communications and Public Relations 

Reflecting on my educational career, I can proudly say I am a living illustration of Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I did not allow the trials of my life to deter me from achieving a lifelong dream of pursuing a media degree.  When I graduated from high school, I decided to pursue a degree in media at Montgomery College. Unfortunately, I couldn’t complete my education at that time due to unforeseen circumstances. I later pursued a career in the accounting and budgetary field. After ten years of working in accounting, I returned to school to complete my education. In the past eight years, I’ve earned an associate degree in applied science technology from Montgomery College, and a Bachelor of Arts in Digital Media with a concentration in broadcast and multimedia journalism from the University of the District of Columbia.  As I end my educational journey, I just want to say thank you to Trinity Washington University for the opportunity to complete my Master’s in Strategic Communications and Public Relations.  I feel honored and blessed to have been part of such an outstanding educational institution.



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  • I feel so honored to be graduating from Trinity. Even though my journey was a bittersweet one but I’m grateful it’s all ends in praise.
    I relocated to States from Sierra Leone ( West Africa) when I was 20 years old by myself. My main goal was for me to further my education and make my family proud. I enrolled myself to Trinity 2018 and began my education journey 2019, it’s been 5 years of wonderful experiences. As I work full time and go to school full time, it was really hard but I keep pushing myself to be a better student. With the help of wonderful Professors, Advisors and Managements at Trinity, I was able to get through the difficult times. Today I’m a 27 year old young lady who Trinity Washington University has shaped, taught, prepared and trained for a better future with integrity, good leadership skills, respect, empathy and good values. I’m proud of my school and ready to represent Trinity.
    As I walk proudly on stage in few weeks to receive my B.A in Health Services, I want to take this moment and thank all my Professors, the office of enrollment, thank you. My advisors throughout the years, thank you. President Pat McGuire, thank you. Dean Bowie, thank you. Ms. Martha Molina, thank you.
    On January, I sponsored and relocated my Parents to the States and they will be here to celebrate with me. I will like to dedicate my Degree to them, mom and Dad I made you proud. Also, to my husband who is serving in the U.S Air Force, I want to thank you for your wonderful support. I am living my American dream. Thank you again Trinity, I will definitely come back for my Masters. Congratulations red class of 2024, we did it.

    Sarah Bambeh Jalloh

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