Voices of Trinity: CAS New Students Fall 2023
(New Students in the College of Arts & Sciences at New Student Convocation, August 25, 2023)
President McGuire’s Remarks to the New Students
(Note: this text reflects data on CAS new students as of August 22, 2023. Updated data including all new students in all programs will appear in a future blog.)
Good morning! I am so pleased to welcome you to the New Student Convocation, a ceremony marking the end of your orientation period and your official welcome into the Trinity community. During this ceremony, you will sign the Honor Pledge and receive your Trinity medals, special symbols of your new lives as Trinity Women. Congratulations!
I want to start by telling you a little bit about … YOU! We are welcoming more than 550 new students in all Trinity programs this fall, and of that number, 310 are new in the College of Arts and Sciences, Trinity’s historic women’s college. About 75% of you are new first-time first-year students in the Class of 2027. You are a Gold Class, continuing a strong tradition of class colors dating back to our very first class — the Red Class of 1904. About 25% of you have transferred from other colleges, and depending on your class, your colors are (green if you are sophomores, blue if you are juniors, and red for the seniors)… and if you are still not sure, you are always correct to wear purple and gold, our school colors!
Demographically, you are 57% Black, 37% Hispanic, 9% White, 4% Asian, American Indian or Alaskan Native.
You range in age from 17 to 69.
You come from 21 different states, with 59% from DC and 28% from Maryland.
While 60% of you were born in the United States, you also hail from 28 other countries including:
|2023 New CAS Students: Countries of Birth|
|United States||Burkina Faso||Guatemala||Kenya||Tanzania||Jamaica|
|El Salvador||Democratic Republic of the Congo||Nigeria||Liberia||Trinidad/Tobago||Sierra Leone|
|Mexico||Costa Rica||Haiti||Pakistan||United Kingdom||Afghanistan|
|Honduras||Hong Kong||Dominican Rep||Philippines||Panama|
Consequently, you speak an amazing range of languages, including:
|2023 CAS New Students: Languages|
|Amharic||Yoruba||Krio||Mandarin and Chinese|
You profess many different religions: Christian, Catholic, Baptist, Muslim, Methodist, Jewish, Jehova’s Witness, 7th Day Adventist.
23 of you are Dreamer Scholars through our partnership with TheDream.US@
21 of you are Conway Scholars in Nursing, a very prestigious scholarship!
8 of you earned your associate degree in May as part of our Early College Academy with Coolidge High School. We have a number of other students from Coolidge as well.
In addition to Coolidge, other schools that are well-represented in this class include:
|Top High Schools: CAS New Students Fall 2023|
|Jackson Reed||Thurgood Marshall||Eastern||Largo||Eleanor Roosevelt|
|Coolidge||Banneker||Dunbar||Montgomery Blair||McKinley Tech|
|Capital City PCS||DC International||KIPP DC||Ballou||Northwestern|
|Theodore Roosevelt||EL Haynes||Springbrook||Cardozo||Paul PCS|
|Columbia Heights Education Campus||Friendship||HD Woodson||Duval||Washington Leadership Academy|
45% of you want to study Nursing and other healthcare fields like Occupational Therapy, Health Services and Social Work.
20% of you are just about evenly split between wanting to pursue Psychology or Business.
13% of you want to major in STEM disciplines including Biology, Biochemistry, Forensic Science and Mathematics.
7% aspire to be teachers, wanting to major in one of our Education specialties.
You may well change your mind about what you want to study as you move through your first and second years, that’s normal, and we encourage you to explore all of the subjects in our curriculum so you can discover new ideas while developing your future plans.
You are an immensely talented group of women. You have been on so many Honor Rolls and received awards for your academic excellence. You have volunteered countless hours as tutors, and working with Casa of Maryland, Washington Literacy Center, United We Dream, homeless housing center, Toys for Tots, Future Farmers of America, Islamic Relief USA, Boys and Girls Clubs, Moms Demand Action, Americorps, among many other organizations.
You have been presidents of classes and student governments.
You have done community theater
You have been active in your churches, sincing in the choirs and teaching Sunday School and helping to feed the homeless or care for those in need.
You have danced — African Dance, Latin Dance, Washington Ballet, so many other dance clubs and organizations.
You are talented musicians, playing Bass and Guitar and Viola and Violin, and Piano, flute and ukelele
You have Marched in the Women’s March for Reproductive Rights
You have also marched in the Honor Guard with JROTC
You have advocated for the environment in Ecology Club
You have learned the innermost secrets of some of the most famous names of American dining: McDonald’s, Ledo’s, Krispy Kreme, Chik fil A, Charleys Philly Cheesesteaks, Starbucks
You’ve rung the cash registers at Foot Locker and Walgreens and Lullulemon
You’ve worked in healthcare as CNAs and EKG Technician
You know the joy as well as the hard work of being a camp counselor.
You are a very athletic group, playing Volleyball, Basketball, Tennis, Track, Soccer. Cross Country, Lacrosse, Ultimate Frisbee, Coed Rugby, Flag football, Swimming You are cheerleaders and coaching assistants. You have your Brown belt in karate.
Not all games are physical. At least one of you is a Fortnite expert
You find the time to take care of your families, siblings, parents, elders. You are raising your own children. You know what it means to be the responsible women holding a family together.
So, that’s a little bit about you. Now, we are going to have a ceremony in which you take the Honor Pledge and receive your Trinity medals. At the end of the ceremony I will have more to say about you.
THE HONOR AGREEMENT AND MEDAL CEREMONY
The Honor Agreement has been our tradition since the founding of Trinity. We expect you to live lives of honor and integrity, and to help each other to do so. This sets Trinity apart from many other schools and many places of business today.
You are starting your academic lives at Trinity in a time fraught with national concern over racial hatred and symbols of egregious racism, over the treatment of immigrants and extreme bias against persons for other reasons — Muslims, gay or transgender individuals, persons whose beliefs, language, culture customs, skin color or political beliefs seem different from those who claim center stage. The mission and values of Trinity, as embodied in our Honor System, reject any and all acts and words of hatred against other individuals; we welcome, honor and respect everyone here at Trinity and we expect you to treat every other person you encounter here with the respect and dignity they deserve.
This is the essence of the Honor Code, along with, of course, a deep commitment to being truthful in everything.
As part of this ceremony you will also receive the Trinity Medal, a symbol of your entrance into the Trinity community and commitment to the values of the Honor System.
The Trinity Medal has, on its front, the image of Our Lady – Notre Dame – the patron of the Sisters of Notre Dame who founded Trinity in 1897. In those days, women did not have the opportunity to go to college in Washington, D.C. The Sisters of Notre Dame saw that was wrong, a grave injustice, so they worked hard to establish Trinity. Your Trinity Medals are symbols — symbols of the power of women to change the world. Wear them well, wear them with pride, never do anything to disgrace them, show the world why you have the distinction as a woman of power to wear this medal starting today and every day henceforth!
To conduct this part of the program, I am pleased to recognize Sr. Ann Howard is a Sister of Notre Dame who is the Director of Campus Ministry and she will bless you and your medals. Dean of Students Meechie Bowie will lead you in the Honor Pledge.
Before we conclude our ceremony, I want to say a few more words about you. I will be quoting from some of your application essays — not by name, and I have taken out references that might identify you. But your words are powerful to inspire us as we start our new lives together.
Many of you reflected in your essays about the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, about being away from friends and school routines, about having to learn online when the motivation and structure was lacking.
You have had more than your share of sorrows. You have lost parents and loved ones, suffered your own illnesses, dealt with families torn apart by violence, incarceration, deportation.
And yet, you have triumphed. You are now Trinity Women! In spite of all these hardships, setbacks and doubts, you powered on through, you showed a level of courage and resilience well beyond your years.
(All paragraphs below in quotes and italics are taken from entering student essays, slightly edited to preserve anonymity.)
You are determined to stand up for women’s rights:
“…as a woman in the US, I acknowledge that I enjoy many privileges compared to women in other countries. For example, in [my country] there are very strict roles women are expected to fulfill and arranged marriages are still a thing. In contrast, one of the biggest privileges I have as a woman in the US is my access to higher quality education. This is one of the many reasons why I appreciate and value my education! Knowing I am a black muslim woman, I confidently stand in my identity.”
Many write of the struggles of your moms, and you want to succeed for their sake:
“My mom is the reason why I’m able to be in a position of just focusing on my studies instead of working as she did at my age. That’s the hard part of being the first generation, feeling this pressure to not end up like your own parents and try to achieve a successful future they never had. But as a first-generation [student] , I know it’s my responsibility to end this continuous cycle of generational trauma and poverty that’s been handed down to me since birth.”
You are also mothers, yourselves:
“Having my daughter changed my outlook on life completely. …She made me want to follow my dreams. When the time comes and she has dreams of her own I want her to be able to follow them and not get discouraged when things aren’t going right or changing her dreams based on other people’s judgment. My daughter saved me and reminded me of my dreams and to make sure I follow them.”
Many of you want to be nurses:
“Becoming a nurse is not merely a career choice for me; it is a lifelong passion rooted in compassion, empathy, and the desire to make a positive impact on the lives of others. The opportunity to provide care, support, and comfort to those in need, coupled with the dynamic nature of the profession, fuels my determination to pursue a nursing career.”
“My ultimate goal is to become an OBGYN nurse. In DC there are a lot of teen moms who do not have the education or knowledge about having children. Most of them are facing pregnancy alone, with no family by their side. I want to help them not feel alone and help guide them through their pregnancy.”
Many of you wrote about the challenges you have faced as immigrants to the US:
“The greatest challenge a youngster might face is moving to a foreign nation as an immigrant without even learning the language. The results include not enjoying childhood, feeling envious of things you can’t afford, maturing too quickly (what kind of 8-year-old likes to translate taxes and important documents to their parents? …doing everything out of necessity rather than desire. My firsthand experience … made me into a better person who wants to help others with the same struggles and challenges.”
You understand all too well about systems of oppression:
“Growing up, 1 watched my mom struggle …with the law and ICE. She often feared deportation and being separated from her family. My father was deported by ICE and now he is suffering in [our home country]. … Moving forward, I want to advocate for immigrants and ensure no one else must go through what my mom and dad have experienced. College will give me the tools and knowledge to become an immigration lawyer …”
Many of you want to return to your home countries to be leaders for change:
“My dream is to become a diplomat and work with my country’s government to change the environment for my little cousins and not let corruption or poverty be an obstacle that prevents them from dreaming big. Furthermore, I don’t want to be that little girl who had to escape her country to survive but instead be the one who would give it a new beginning to be a safe home for its citizens.”
You want to work for justice right here in these United States:
“I want to make sure everyone, despite their skin color, sexuality, gender, disability/mental illness gets the support, and the justice they deserve. The reason I wanted to become a lawyer was that I felt that POC needed more representation. Our voices are often silenced when it comes to law and criminal justice, and I want to change that. I’ve witnessed law students who have applied to be lawyers who were, racist, sexist and homophobic. This makes me upset that someone could take their hatred or bias on someone innocent and needs justice. That’s when I knew I wanted to become a lawyer.”
60 years ago on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. preached about justice denied. We know his speech for his “I Have a Dream” peroration, but his even more important message came much earlier in the speech. He gave a lesson on the unfinished business of the promises made during the American revolution:
“When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men — yes, Black men as well as white men — would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
“It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. …But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt.
“We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.
“We have also come to his hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now.
“Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. …Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.” (Excerpted from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I have a Dream, Speech to the March on Washington, August 28 1963)
You, the Trinity Women we welcome today, you are the latest generation to feel that “fierce urgency of now.” In your choice to embark on your higher education at Trinity, you are cashing that promissory note to reach the fulness of America’s promise in your lives. You are the latest activists and exemplars in the long march toward racial and social justice in this nation, a march, a struggle, a revolution that’s been going on for centuries. Each generation takes a few steps forward, even though, at times, it feels like too many steps go backward. We keep marching.
125 years ago, a small group of very courageous women started their own revolution for justice. These women, religious sisters, certainly did not think of themselves as radicals, and yet look at this room today, a room they could not have imagined in the segregated world of 1897 —but they would be so proud of you today!
Back then in 1897, much of higher education was segregated not only by race but also by gender. Women were denied admission to most colleges of that era, and the Sisters of Notre Dame were particularly concerned that then-new Catholic University was denying admission to women who were then going to the new secular women’s colleges – Wellesley, Smith, Vassar, Bryn Mawr. The sisters felt strongly that women had every right to a higher education on the same level as men of that era, so they set about founding Trinity.
But when some rightwing clerics at Catholic U learned of the plan, the men tried to stop Trinity’s founding, claiming it was a heresy to educate women in college! But the sisters persisted, argued their case all the way up to the pope, and they won the day! We are here today because those women had a powerful, unyielding belief in the right and necessity of higher education for women, and all of us who are their heirs have reaped so many benefits from their courage.
As their heirs, we are also champions for justice not only for women but for persons of color, for immigrants, for our LGBTQ sisters and brothers, for persons who are marginalized and oppressed in this nation and around the world. Because of this mission commitment, rooted in the Catholic idea of social justice, we are proud to welcome you in all of your glorious diversity of race and ethnicity and nationality and language and customs and beliefs. Your diversity makes Trinity stronger, illuminates all of our lives, teaching the members of this campus community how to build a good society in the world beyond Michigan Avenue — a world that desperately needs leaders who know the true meaning of justice and seek to extend its life-giving meaning to every person on this small planet.
As you leave this Chapel today, wearing your Trinity medals proudly, go with the blessings of the Trinity. May you find the strength, the wisdom and the love of the Trinity as inspiration, support and a call to action each day.