Voices of Trinity: May 2022 Grads Share Their Stories

May 14, 2022

Congratulations to all graduates in the Class of 2022!!  You have achieved so much, and all of Trinity is proud of you!  Below are just some of the amazing, courageous, triumphant stories of the Green Class of 2022 — thanks for sharing!

Daniela Romualdo Castro, CAS, BA in Communication, magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, Lambda Pi Eta

My name is Daniela Romualdo Castro. I am a first-generation, DACAmented Latina graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication with a minor in Women’s Studies. At age six I migrated from Mexico to the U.S. along with my family in pursuit of a better life and opportunities. I believe graduating from college is one of those opportunities.

I came to Trinity unsure if I was ready for college. As a first-generation college student who happened to also be DACAmented, I believed I had taken on more than I could handle. However, at Trinity, I found strength and community. For the first time in a while, I was in an environment where professors, colleagues, and other professionals supported me and encouraged me throughout my undergraduate journey. At Trinity, I fell in love with learning again. The communication and women’s studies courses I took have inspired me to work serving marginalized communities, especially women and Latinos.

These past four years were challenging yet so rewarding. I commuted to Trinity all my four years. At times it was difficult to get up for classes and come home late after a night class or a special event. However, commuting taught me the importance of time management and discipline. I was able to earn good grades and was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa and Lambda Pi Eta Honors Societies and earned Trinity’s T-Pin award. I was also able to get involved on campus. I got the chance to be a peer advisor, be a part of student organizations like WSAC, and above all work with the Admissions office as a student ambassador.

I am thankful to Trinity for allowing me to grow professionally and personally over the last few years. I am thankful for TheDream.Us who supported me financially and provided me with resources throughout the years. Most importantly I am thankful for my family and friends who have supported me and motivated me throughout these past four years.

 

Sharron-Rose Kisalu, NHP, Bachelor of Science in Nursing, cum laude, Conway Scholar, Shannon Scholar

My name is Sharron-Rose Kisalu, and I am thrilled to be graduating with a BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing). This has been a long journey in the making, but I am most grateful to God, my support systems (family, friends, and church) for sticking by my side and encouraging me to keep going.

I am proud to say that I am graduating debt-free because of all the financial support from the wonderful benefactors. I cannot thank them all enough for helping me reach my goal and pursue a fulfilling career. I want to take the time to also thank all the faculty members for their dedication in teaching me the necessary information to build a strong foundation in nursing care.

I am also most grateful for the group of friends and meaningful relationships I have created for the past four years; my Trinity nursing sisters. They were an immense source of support and I love every single one of them so very much. I proud of the resilience our nursing cohort has built, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic.

I am looking forward to starting my nursing career at Holy Cross Hospital-Germantown as a Mother-Baby/NICU registered nurse. I plan to keep pursuing education in Women & Infant health to help improve the maternal health conditions in my home country, the Democratic Republic of Congo.

 

Diamond Moore, NHP, Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Conway Scholar

My name is Diamond Moore, a Native Washingtonian, and a Conway Scholar. I began my undergraduate degree at Trinity in the Fall of 2017. I am more than grateful to be graduating with my Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. My journey as a nursing student has not been an easy one, but it has been worthwhile and very rewarding. …I am looking forward to embarking and starting my nursing career in the Emergency Department at Washington Hospital Center (WHC). Furthermore, I plan to continue my education by obtaining my sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE) certificate and my Master’s degree in nursing (MSN) to then become a family nurse practitioner (FNP). Though my journey may have been different than the average nursing student, I was very determined, and I preserved despite my setbacks. My journey was not done alone, but I had an amazing support system starting with God first and foremost, family, friends. They were the ones who pushed me when I felt defeated or became discouraged. Therefore, I would like to leave future nursing student with, “Yes, nursing school is hard, but hard does not mean impossible”. Thank you, Trinity Washington University, for all the resources, financial support, and the education that you have provided me over the past five years.

 

Jessica Aguilar Rios, CAS, Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, magna cum laude, Shannon Scholar

Graduating from college is a dream come true, and graduating from Trinity is a true blessing that I will forever cherish and hold close to my heart.

When I first started school at Trinity, the first thought that comes to mind is the logo “I found my strength at Trinity”. The past four years at Trinity, the logo became very real and holds a sacred place in my heart. I have many takeaways: everything happens for a reason, everything will be alright, and there is strength that lies in everyone and it lies at our core. As a first generation Latina college student, college seemed like a challenging dream because I was not sure how I was going to be able to afford it. Growing up my parents both worked hard to provide for our family. I remember, vividly, when I was 6-years-old and I told my mom I would attend college and they would not have to worry about college expenses. It would also be a way for me to give back to them and show them the appreciation for the sacrifices coming to the United States. Little did I know about the adversities that would lie ahead while pursuing my degree.

When I entered college there were a number of challenges that arose – family health issues, the challenges of the pandemic, economic concerns –  and I began to question if I would be able to maintain my grades and keep up with my classes.

In the moments of many doubts and bewilderment, I was able to push through. Trinity provided me with a safe environment where I could seek comfort in my faith through Trinity’s Sister Fellowship, reach out to my professors who were understanding, and seek new opportunities. The professors were not only supportive, but they challenged me along the way. I was able to afford my education and pursue my my passion as a psychology major.

For me being a Trinity Woman means being able to stand my ground and not be ruled by fear. It means being able to freely express my mind and stand up for what I believe in. Being a Trinity Woman also means pushing through even when the odds seem against me. Attending an all-women’s college helped me to freely express myself and find my voice. Being surrounded by women, hear their stories, and come together comes to show the power we have when we all get together, and what we are capable of.

At Trinity, I was able to unpack and put my potential and what it is that I want in life to the test That is what being a Trinity Woman means to me. Being able to share my story without shame, being able to use my voice and voice my opinions, and to keep pushing through even when it seems like I have no strength left in me. I thank my family, my mentors, my professors for their encouragement and guidance.

Martha Mendez, CAS, Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration

Nine years ago I had to immigrate to the USA and enroll in Cardozo High school. This was the place where a lot of people helped me learn English and helped me to adapt to the environment.

I’m from Guatemala and am a Mayan woman. It was my dream to attend college but there were a lot of obstacles that made it look impossible. In 2017 I graduated from high school and all the doors looked closed for me. Thankfully, one of the doors was welcoming to be part of a wonderful experience. Trinity was that door, place and family that gave me the opportunity to succeed and made my dreams true.

Since I’m an immigrant I didn’t have enough help financially to attend college. I couldn’t apply for a lot of scholarships and grants. The scholarships for undocumented students are so limited. Since colleges are so expensive, students like me and others cannot afford this education. I applied to a lot of different colleges and some of them I was accepted but I didn’t have the money to pay the tuition fee.  I was upset about it and had to accept not attending college. One day someone called me from Trinity Washington University and told me that I was accepted at Trinity and I received a scholarship at Trinity.

I started my journey at Trinity with ups and downs because I was struggling with my English but with the help of the team that make this a good experience by supporting students at Trinity, I made it. With the help of my classmates I made it. In 2020 we all had a hard time because of COVID. We went to spring break and never came back. We all had to stay home and do everything online. We all had to adapt to this situation. In 2020 I also got pregnant and had my baby in 2021. It was hard for me because my baby takes a lot of my time and I had to make time for school, work and internships as well. Thankfully, my teachers and classmates understood me and helped me a lot. I’m so glad I became part of this big family who are there to support each other.

Thank you so much Trinity Washington University! Thank you so much for my parents, family and all the people who supported me all these years.

If you have a dream work hard for it. Even if looks like it is impossible, there will be always a door of opportunity for you. Look for that door and take advantage of all the opportunity that comes with. Never give up and push yourself up for a better future.

 

Lawren McCoy, SPS, Associate of Arts in Early Childhood Education

Back in 2008, I graduated from high school but just like many of us, I did not take advantage of the amazing opportunity of a FREE college education. Life got real, I start a family and made money so going back was put on hold. Yet, God had a different plan for my life and gave me a second chance to redeem myself for the choices I made when I was a teen. Silly choices that would have had taken me down a path of uncertainty…BUT GOD. In January 2020, I was accepted into Trinity Washington University and that was the BEST decision I’ve ever made. Through a pandemic, deaths, and other life obstacles, I have been able to maintain a high-grade point average and balance work/family. I am the Jr. Rep of the BSA, I am a Graduate of the 2021 Center of Strategic and International Studies Fellowship, and a new 2022 collegiate initiate of the Iota Iota Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated.  On May 19th, 2022 I will be graduating with my associates degree in Early Childhood Education and will be starting my Bachelors journey this coming summer. I want to thank God for giving me grace, my parents for providing guidance and my family and friends for the love and support through this journey.

Chantese Jones, SPS, Associate of Arts in Early Childhood Education

My name is Chantese Jones. I was born and raised and still live in Washington D.C. which makes me a true Washingtonian. Growing up in an urban community I have experienced the advantages and disadvantages of the education system. That is why I strive to be the best educator I can be. I love being that positive role model that our youth can depend on.

My goal as an educator is to try to reach every child I encounter by learning about them all individually and as they are. I have several certifications that qualify me to teach such as child development associate (CDA), First aid & CPR, Food Handler, Mandated  Reporter, Medical Administration, 9 years of experience and I am currently earning an Early Childhood Education Associate’s degree at Trinity Washington University. I look forward to continuing my education.

I am the oldest girl out of four children. Growing up in a single-parent home taught me responsibility and independence. It gave me the strength and courage that I need to be successful and I owe it all to my mother. She is my biggest inspiration because mothers are your first teacher. She taught my three siblings and me to love with no measures,  to stick together no matter what happens, to take accountability for our actions, to be the change we want to see, and that failure is not an option. Through rough times I felt safe, she was our biggest fan, and still to this day she strives for excellence. She is currently enrolled at Strayer University where she remains on the dean’s list. You know the old saying, lead by example and practice what you preach, she is the definition of them both — and if she has not stopped why would I?

I believe all children can learn. It just takes patience, love, and consistency. The right procedures and routines can lead to success in and out of the classroom. My short-term goal is to get my B.A. in Early Childhood Education and to find a school or center that feels like home and where I can progress. My long-term goal is to have a childcare center where I can instill everything I have learned, love and honor.

Marlo Blue, SPS, Associate of Arts in General Studies

My college journey began a long time ago. I started as a full-time student right after high school but had to drop out of college due to my lack of finances. I realized I had to quit school and thrust myself into the full-time workforce to survive.

I never gave up. I took a class here and a class there from the University of the District of Columbia, Strayer University, Southern New Hampshire University, and Trinity Washington University. You could say I have been a college student for life.

When my daughter began her first year in high school in 2018, I set a goal and challenged myself to return to Trinity to complete my bachelor’s degree before she graduated.

My goal was to make her a 2nd generation college graduate and be a role model to her. A few years later, that goal has finally become my reality. Trinity has taught me to press on and never give up. I have learned so much about society, politics, and work, from homelessness in America to environmental injustices, etc.

I owe huge thanks to God, my Savior, family (Laurence & Sky), advisor Christina Lynch, Professor Sophia Young, my managers at work (Tony & Derika), and many others for the support and motivation to finish this journey. I am proud to say that I am finally graduating class of 2022.  I still can’t believe it.

Thank you, Trinity, for a fantastic journey.

 

Ronneshia Briscoe, CAS, Bachelor of Arts in Psychology

“ You are not a product of your environment, you are a product of your choices.”

I was born and raised in Southeast (the “bad” part) , District of Columbia. A place that is known for its bad reputation, I knew right off the bat that I had to prove that I was not going to be another statistic.

My school journey have been amazing but there were a few bumps in the road. In elementary school, I was a star student and it made me realize that school is for me. I love to read and see my classmates.

Middle school was the start of my bullying. People made fun of me based on my appearance and rumors. I was crying daily and wanted to give up. However, I was able to gather the strength to keep fighting. I didn’t want to give them the satisfaction by reacting. At promotion, I received the only Principal’s Legacy Award.

I was also bullied in high school and was in the counselor’s office a lot. I didn’t get how I was so unliked or why my appearance bothered so many people. It took for my junior of high school to realize that I am unique and being normal is boring. I was a part of the International Baccalaureate Program which is so hard to accomplish but I did it. I graduated in the top 10.

Now, I am graduating college with a Degree in Psychology. Also, I’m a trainee in the federal government. I got inducted into Psi Chi in 2020. I also made dean’s list 3 times.

I say all this to say: “Love yourself and never give up.” Don’t let permanent obstacles get in the way of your future success.

 

Lucky Ufondu, NHP, Master of Public Health

I must say Trinity has the best professors in MPH . Getting a first degree in Nigeria and joining the MPH class was awesome. The professors will use all examples and illustrations to make you understand and enjoy the class.

I am originally from Anambra state in Nigeria.  I work at Johns Hopkins with the anesthesia team.

I choose Trinity because Originally the MPH was supposed to be in person which was my favorite….Most schools offer it online and due to my old school academic orientation I prefer in-person; but Covid-19 was a game changer.  I did the online with Trinity and it was so nice and encouraging.  The professors are so nice. Professor Betschman was my super hero. She is always ready to listen and offer advice on next steps. Even in the days of academic challenges she will try to make you wake up and put in your best.

 

 

 

 

 

Kathi McMillan, SPS, Community Health Worker Certificate

What I want the incoming students, graduating students, and Faculty and Staff to know about me is that when I set a goal I do everything in my power and God’s power to get it done!!! I would like to leave you with this ” If you shoot for the moon and even if you miss you would be among the stars” I am so proud of all of us, we persevered!!

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Digital Time Capsule for Trinity’s 125th Anniversary!

April 27, 2022

Oh happy day!  On this Founders Day in Trinity’s 125th Anniversary year, we’re making a digital time capsule to tell the future Trinity generations about Trinity in 2022, and the wonderful Gospel Choir concert on April 25 seems like a great way to start our collection!

This blog includes many of the photos and essays that members of the Trinity community have submitted so far, and I will keep adding to the collection.  We plan to turn it into a digital archive that we will be sure to preserve in formats that can be viewed and appreciated far into the future.

Let’s take a quick look back at other Founders Day blogs:  2020 when the pandemic was just starting; 2017, a year after we opened the Payden Center; and a different Founders Day on the historic date of the dedication of Trinity on November 22, 2020.  In all of these and so many other occasions, we remember and pay tribute to the great Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur who founded, built and sustained the stewardship of Trinity across these 125 years.  Our gratitude to our founders and all SNDs is immense!  Sr. Camilla Burns, SND, Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies, shared this reflection for the digital time capsule:

I am a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur who graduated from Trinity in 1960. I taught in Elementary School, High School (also served as Principal), College and University (Director of Institute of Pastoral Studies, Loyola University, Chicago). In addition, one of my leadership roles was the Congregational Leader for the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. I returned to Trinity in the 90s to serve on the Board of Trustees and most recently in 2012 to teach in the Religious Studies Program. My experience of Trinity over these many years is that the vision of the Founder, Sr. Julia McGroarty who saw the purpose of Trinity as “enlarging our lives to suit the times” has been fulfilled and continues to influence in new and marvelous ways. … Although my life has included much foreign travel and various occupations, I maintain that I have saved “the best to last.”

Sister Camilla Burns, SNDdeN

I invited members of the campus community to submit photos and essays depicting what they want the Trinity community in the Year 2097 to know about Trinity in 2022.  2097 will be the year of Trinity’s Bicentennial!  Can you imagine?  What an exciting thought!

I’ll be organizing these photos and essays into a video blog soon, but for now, here are some of the many entries:

Below, the Student Government Council hold their last meeting of the Spring 2022 semester:  (r to l) President Michelle Vasquez ’22, Olivia O’Connor ’25, Jacqueline Portillo ’23, Marbella Navarrete ’24, Ammi Cabrera ’23, Karen Ramos ’23, Student Activities Coordinator Mileidi Salinas ’21

From Jamileth Mendez ’23 and Anissa Young ’23:

Katheryn Najarro ’22, graduating in May (congrats!) sent a number of wonderful photos of the tennis team, I’m putting just one here for now, the rest of them will be on the video blog — but I particularly like this one with our very devoted Tennis Coach Enoch and the team members:

Diamond Moore ’22 sent several photos of her life as a Nursing student, here’s one for now, all will be on the vblog….

Business major Kimberly Moreno ’22 sent a wonderful collection of photos from various events, all will be on the vblog, this one is especially charming from the scavenger hunt last year showing students with Sr. Ann Howard on the tennis courts.  Kimberly writes, “I like these pictures because it reminds me of the fun Trinity has even in the middle of a pandemic. Also, it is easy to note how friendly everyone is; you can see everyone smiling even under their mask.”

Dee Holzner of our Admissions staff shares this photo from an Admissions event: (Admission Admitted Student Day for the College of Arts and Sciences, March 26th, 2022; Left to right-center: Azucena Garcia-Angel and Karen Martinez-Nunez. Left to right back row: Praise O. Oladoyin, Katherine Dunkley, Recruiter Dee Holtzner and Kimberley Y. Monroe)

Vennessea Hall Lamb, Graduate Student in the Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program:

Historic:  Fall 2021, Professor Kimberly Monroe and Trinity’s First Africana Studies Class:

More history:  Dr. Monroe’s  HIS 343: African American Liberation Movement class after Historical “Role Play” of women activist. (Spring 2022)

The International Students Association would like to be included in this memorable event. The club was formed in 2022 and we want this to be remembered. The picture shows the Executive Body of the club.

Front left- Krystal Gordon (President)

Front right- Valeria Perdomo-Zepeda (Vice- President)

Back left – Cyndi Rodrigues (Secretary)

Back right – Ingrid Tchouamo (Social Media Coordinator)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…more coming, check back soon!

 

PS — if you want to contribute to Trinity’s Digital Time Capsule, send me your photo, or an essay, to president@trinitydc.edu

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April 2022 Community Survey Results

April 24, 2022

 

We conducted a new survey of the campus community in April 2022.  We have been doing these surveys since the pandemic began, and they are extremely helpful in shaping responses to constituent needs.  319 students, faculty and staff responded to our most recent survey — thank you!  The pie chart on the left shows the participation rates for each campus cohort.

 

Below is a chart that illustrates answers to a question we’ve been asking in every survey since the pandemic began — how’s it going?  This simple question actually packs a big punch, and over time we can see the sentiments of our students, faculty and staff changing both for better and for worse.  Here’s how to read the chart below:  the columns with the stronger colors are for the most recent survey, while the columns with faded colors show the prior surveys back to October 2021.  The columns group in sets of students (left columns), faculty (center columns) and staff (right).  The color stacks are pink (worse than expected), dark teal (about the same as expected), and light green (better than expected).

What we are seeing in the April survey is some deterioration in student and faculty sentiment over the February results.  20% of both groups are telling us that things are going “worse than expected,” and in the case of faculty, the decline is quite large from 6% to 20%.  That also matches the decline in faculty responses on the bottom “better than expected” declining from 30% to 16%.

What is driving these results?  Read on below the chart for comments from each group, and the subsequent questions in the survey also tease out some of the reasons.

Here are some of the comments accompanying the question above on “how’s it going?”….

CAS students:

“Classes this semester have felt draining and overwhelming. The amount of work that is given in short amount of time and graded pretty rough is not quite fair.”

“My Mental health really took a toll this semester it was hard to feel motivated to get up and eat, go to class and do my work. I feel as if I struggled more this semester than last.”

“I am feeling more overwhelmed this semester.”

“This semester did definitely come with more workload. I have to say it was the heaviest but towards the end, some professors were very understanding and gave us the chance to pick our assignments by giving us a variety of options.”

“I am on track to have dean’s last this semester and I because on the mini-spring break we had during Easter, I was able to get a lot of work done early.”

“School work was very overwhelming, which is expected as being a rising senior however Trinity didn’t give students a spring break. I believe with a spring break, my mental health could’ve been more at ease. I felt very stressed out with so many expectations to meet all bottled up. Easter break didn’t make up for us not having a spring break as Easter is meant to spend with family but instead I spent my entire Easter finishing up papers.”

“It has been a transition from doing virtual learning to in-person learning. For me, my social anxiety has lessened, so I have made progress in my participation in the classroom. Also, having the deli reopen has been extremely helpful for a commuter who takes the metro.”

“My classes this year have been interesting and informative, my grades have been good as well.”

NHP and PGS students:

“Classes are going well. Teachers are very helpful and resourceful.”

“This is my second year here at Trinity, and I have really learned a lot. I have achieved more than I expected. The teachers I’ve encountered were very generous and helpful. I have had my ups and downs with one teacher, but I do not wish to elaborate, but I can say, I have learned that you can’t grasp everybody’s teaching strategies. Other than that I have enjoyed my time here at Trinity.”

“I did not think that I could maintain 3 or more classes. I did it and got on the Dean’s List. It can’t get any better than that. Well, yes it can. Now, if I receive Cum Laude!!!!! AWESOME!!!”

“Work/home/school balance was not great. Spring courses were very demanding, on top of all of the COVID restrictions from working in a school and being a mom.”

“I have been struggling to keep up with the work load of classes while working full time.”

Faculty:

“It’s been challenging getting students to come to class and to complete homework and readings.”

“Everybody’s tired. Engagement has slipped this semester despite faculty using best practices. A spring break would have provided a chance to catch up.”

“Students are doing well and succeeding in class.”

“I don’t know whether it’s because the first few days were online, or whether Covid and winter malaise just affected students more than normal, but the student engagement levels this spring were lower than I’d hoped. Quite a few students just haven’t been making it to class on time, despite various attempts to encourage them to; others have been absent a lot. This has definitely contributed to unevenness in the classroom, and lower engagement levels.”

“A majority of students are reporting stress, exhaustion, and difficulty achieving their best academic performance. This became noticeable worse by March 7- midterms.”

“I have a very good group of Senior Seminar students. They meet all deadlines and have submitted quality work.”

“While a few of my students have stopped coming to class or submitting assignments, the majority are working very diligently. Furthermore, my colleagues have been a tremendous support to me this year.”

“The good news: all semester, my students have been engaged, in contact, and conscientious about their work (it is sometimes late but they are getting it done). They seem interested in the course material and excited about learning new ideas and skills. The caveat is that absenteeism is high (illness and family issues mostly) and they are stressed by the workload in all their classes.”

Staff:

“I feel comfortable coming to work little by little and seeing more people after rough times of the pandemic. The pandemic had taken a toll on me mentally due to many relatives passing of COVID-19 all around the world.”

“I thought we’d have more community spread of COVID, but we’ve kept it under control. Although I’m tired of wearing masks, keeping the indoor mask mandate has been good.”

“It has been good to be on campus and seeing more students and colleagues, but in many ways, things are not back to normal and there is definitely a lack of collaboration with so many people rotating in and out with hybrid schedules.”

“With the return of classes face-to-face, I was afraid we would have a large outbreak given the high transmission rate after the Christmas break but luckily our campus has been spared. The semester has been quite successful thanks to the diligence of the faculty, staff and student body who has consistently followed our health protocols.”

“Better than expected because the covid protocols are still in place which continue to offer protection. Also, having to work two days online helps mitigate the exposure. I am very pleased that Trinity chose not to give in to the pressure of relaxing the guidelines; I feel safe to come to work which helps me concentrate in my work. ”

Question on Covid Protocols

Based on the results of the survey question on Covid protocols, we will CONTINUE the mask mandate indoors for the forseeable future.  Many students, faculty and staff tell us that they feel more comfortable and safe with the masks.  We will also continue the vaccine mandate, and we do hope to be able to provide the vaccines through Health Services in the fall.

Question:  What Stresses You Out?

The answers to this question are very helpful for understanding the mental health issues we are hearing about, and it’s also interesting to see how students compare to the faculty/staff cohorts:

We know that money is a huge issue for Trinity students.  We will continue to provide as many emergency grants as possible through the federal and private funds we have available.  Trinity is fortunate that some private benefactors have made donations to help students out with private grants, and we are so grateful for this support!

It’s noteworthy in the above responses that substantial proportions of all campus populations have had to cope with their own illness due to Covid (23% of students, 27% of faculty/staff) and also the terrible pain of losing family members and loved ones due to Covid (19% of students, 23% of faculty/staff).  Everyone expresses concern about getting sick, or about family members getting sick, and this supports continuing our effective Covid mitigation strategies on campus.

Some of the comments on this question:

“I like that the Trinity campus remains open. I can come here or stay after classes to get away from home and focus on my assignments. I feel safe on campus and it helps with the stress I’m feeling from the pandemic. In regards to the faculty instructors giving too many assignments, I felt this a lot in the spring semester. The end just feels so rushed.” (Student)

“The year 2020 changed the course of history and our everyday routines. It’s been challenging to go back to what we consider “normal”. The stressors of 2020, 2021, and now 2022 has taken it’s toll in such a peculiar way. We’re constantly bombarded with bad news that is beyond our control- whether it’s rising prices, new variants, ongoing restrictions, the Ukraine war, mass shootings, etc. It weighs on your mental ability to thrive despite feeling like the world is falling apart. People are ready to snap at any moment, and it’s likely they all feel like the walls are closing in. I wish there was a magic remedy to make it all better.” (Staff)

“The monetary assistance last year was very beneficial. It helped me pay bills and provide the needs that I could not have gotten since I had to cut down my hours at work due to school.” (Student)

“I’m a care giver for my grandmother and disabled father. More flexibility with my schedule would be helpful. Safety is also huge priority for myself and family. I’d prefer if Trinity doesn’t get too relaxed with their covid-19 procedures.” (Faculty)

“For a community that has a physical presence (i.e. campus), I think it’s important that we do start gathering together when possible (Certainly outside now that the weather is getting warmer or inside in smaller groups) so that we can continue to build/rebuild the sense of community especially for all the newer people that are here. I feel that in some sense we have “forgotten” how to be together as we have been so isolated for the past couple years. The best way to remember is to start to gather whenever possible.” (Staff)

“Mental health support + leniency on assignments for the next few semesters would be great as everyone has been struggling with finances and mental health since the pandemic at even higher rates. While some professors seem supportive and understanding many are still taking a more challenging approach. But this approach often only truly affects those who really aren’t trying OR that are struggling with life all around and aren’t able to be given any understanding because “if I make an exception for you I must for everyone”. So general leniency.” (Student)

“The level of stress most are experiencing has been and continues to be incredibly high and most people are already well past having any reserves to deal with the unknowns of daily life. It is hard to say what would help in that we all just have to keep going regardless of how worn out we might be. I am honestly not sure what would ease the stress enough to build back any reserves to manage the unknowns of daily life. Things are hard and continue to be. Trinity has done so many things to try to ease the burdens of the Covid situation and the unknowns that pop-up, but the reality is, there is, potentially, not much else Trinity can do as we all just have to muddle through until things get easier?” (Faculty)

“It could be helpful to provide more mental health resources like infographics and support groups. As a first gen student, I’ve realized that a lot of my peers and myself often don’t have the language to describe how we feel and it has made it difficult to talk about what we’re going through (loss, illness, etc.).” (Student)

“More activities and events that allow students to fellowship together may help improve the mental well-being of the students, faculty, and staff. I advise students who are dealing with at least two or more of the above items. In each of our student cohorts, we have students who are dealing with every box listed above.” (Faculty)

“Although it would be ideal to have more student activities on campus, I worry about covid cases increasing and catching covid myself which is stressful. I believe that having the weight of the semester and the many homework assignments and projects, combined with the lack of socialization causes a burnout which not only affects students’ academics but most importantly their mental health.” (Student)

Question: What Can We Do To Provide Better Support?

The responses to this question, and the comments, indicated general agreement about the need for more time off, more breaks, and more mental health service options.  Students also want faculty to be more sensitive to the volume of assignments across courses.  Faculty want more help in working with students in crisis.  We will be addressing these issues going forward as we plan the 2022-2023 academic year.

We will be responding to the academic calendar issues separately…. stay tuned!

Thanks to everyone for participating in this and all of our community surveys this year.  Your engagement really helps all of us to stay on track, make changes as we go along, and be more responsive to the needs of all persons on campus.

Onward to our year-end celebrations, commencements and a great summer!

 

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Resurrection and Hope

April 15, 2022

Easter Weekend, 2022.  It’s impossible to contemplate the mystery of the Resurrection in this era without wondering — maybe even challenging — what that means in a world beset by a terrible war with evidence of atrocities perpetrated by Russia in Ukraine, the ongoing suffering of the Covid-19 pandemic that teases us but will not release its grip, the very real presence of racial hatred and authoritarian political trends in our own fragile democracy.   Christians revere the story of the Resurrection as the evidence of Christ’s divinity, his triumph over the suffering and death on the cross that we observe on Good Friday.  Yet, in this fraught moment in human history, the idea of being triumphant seems ill-conceived, arrogant, and a mis-reading of the Gospels.  Most often in these times of struggle, we feel like the disciples who discovered the empty tomb, wondering what has happened, uncertain and afraid.

In an essay in the National Catholic Reporter, writer Chris Herlinger suggests that we Christians should be less about triumphalism and more about hope.  We must admit the terror, oppression and genuine suffering that people who claim to be Christians have inflicted across the centuries on other human beings.  Triumphalism obscures, denies these sins, while the humility of hope confesses complicity in evil for the sake of power over others.

The other day, President Biden upset some people by calling the destruction of human life in Ukraine “genocide.”  Such a strong word in polite society!  But perhaps the United States should have spoken out with equally strong words — and actions to support the words — in 1942, 43, 44 when the Holocaust was unfolding in Germany.  As is true today with the Russian soldiers who are carrying out the wanton torture and murder of civilians in Ukraine, so it was true with the German soldiers and officers who stoked the fires of the crematoria at Auschwitz and Birkenau — good Christians all, “just following orders.”

We may feel relieved that the reality of such evils are far away, across an ocean and a continent, happening among people we may only see on a screen before we move on to Tik-Tok videos of cats and food.  To dismiss the obvious threats against human life and freedom that are coursing through the roots of our own country is obtuse, a dangerous repression of knowledge about conditions that are truly a call to action for justice. Sadly, many so-called Christians are at the center of political misinformation and efforts to take over governing bodies to roll back decades of progress on civil rights and human rights.  This is not about noble and well-reasoned political argumentation over public policy; the rolling-back of civil and human rights in the United States is fueled by racial and ethnic hostility and outright hatred against Black and Brown persons in particular.

True Christians must not only have nothing to do with the racism and oppression of refugees and immigrants that has taken hold in too many places in our nation — we must also be advocates and activists for the protection of those persons who are suffering grave harm amid the myriad injustices of contemporary culture.  We are called to be people of Hope, of Charity — but those virtues depend on the fulfillment of social justice principles, which rest on the protection of human life and dignity.  As the old saying goes, if we want peace, we must work for justice.

On this Easter Weekend, we need Christians everywhere to reaffirm our fundamental faith commitments as people of Hope, of Charity, working for peace through justice.  The real triumph of the Resurrection will come not in domination of others, but in the ways in which we make it possible for other people to enjoy lives of freedom, fulfillment and peace.

Let us all pray for a swift and sure end to the war in Ukraine, and a restoration of peace in Europe.

 

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Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson

April 7, 2022

(Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson speaks at the White House on the day of her nomination to the Supreme Court, as President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris look on, February 25, 2022.  photo credit)

Congratulations to Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson!  Today, the Senate of the United States confirmed her appointment to the Supreme Court.  This is truly an historic day!  For the first time in 233 years of American History, we are saluting an African American woman who is ascending to the highest court in the land.  What an exhilarating moment! Justice Jackson, a supremely well qualified lawyer and judge, carries with her two centuries of the struggle for racial justice and gender equity in the most powerful places in this nation.  Her very presence, as with the presence of Vice President Kamala Harris in the photo above, signifies a new level of power and achievement for Black women, while also symbolizing the necessity and worth of all the struggles leading up to this day.

Justice Jackson’s historic rise to the Supreme Court began when she was a child in Miami where she won a national oratory contest in her senior year in high school.  She went on to Harvard for her undergraduate education — and we in the women’s college world can take some pride in noting that while Harvard is now fully coed, when she graduated in 1992 her institution was known as Harvard-Radcliffe College, with the Radcliffe name signifying the heritage of that great women’s college that had merged into Harvard years earlier.  She subsequently earned her law degree at Harvard as well.

Justice Jackson will have the distinction of being the only member of the Supreme Court with experience as a public defender.  Public defenders represent accused persons who cannot afford their own lawyers, and the concept reflects the American ideal that an accused person is innocent until proven guilty.  Her service as a public defender reflects Justice Jackson’s deep respect for American legal principles and justice for all.

I am eager to know the thoughts of our Trinity students, faculty, staff and alumnae on Justice Jackson’s historic confirmation for the Supreme Court.  Please share them by using the comments link below, or email me at president@trinitydc.edu and I will add them to this blog.

Comments from the Trinity Community on Justice Jackson’s Confirmation

SPS Junior LaTisha McGugan:

I watched today’s historic vote with a full heart. When Vice President Harris said the word “confirmed”, my eyes filled with tears. As an African American woman, descendant of slaves, my thoughts immediately went to the many souls who have sacrificed, fought and died, to breathe free, to have human rights, for advancement, for inclusion. I thought of the ancestors of Judge Jackson and the many seeds sown for her life in faith. And I thought of how proud her family must feel because I feel immensely proud of her.  Finally, I thought of all the young women and girls who will now only know of an African American woman serving on our country’s highest court as being a possibility. The only thing that could have made this more momentous would have been a “yes” vote from all of the women in the Senate. To all this I say Amen, we (America) have a long way to journey still towards equality but today we have made some progress to be sure.

Assistant Professor of Education Dr. Monique Green:

Another glass ceiling has just been shattered! This is not only a victory for African American women but for women all over the world. It was a privilege  to watch Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson navigate the process of becoming the latest justice on the Supreme Court with exceptional intelligence, tenacity, and grace. I am confident she will continue to be an example of excellence and contribute to decision making that will benefit all American people.  Congratulations Supreme Court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson!

Academic Advisor Ayesha Shabazz:

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson is exactly where she was destined to be and the fact that she got there with common sense, grace and focus while being a wife and mom is extremely inspiring. What a perfect, historical day!

Sr. Ann Howard, SND, Director of Campus Ministry:

[Reflecting on]…the moment of Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation by the Senate to serve the nation as a member of Supreme Court.  I stand in awe of the process and those in leadership who, applauding at the outcome, celebrate this moment of justice in US history. I can almost see Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. nodding and smiling at this sign of the arc of justice bending more closely to our land.
But watching the Republicans Senators whose questions seemed insulting, belittling, disrespectful, makes me realize how, as Senator Cory Booker stated, “Some Americans are sadly aching.”  We can be so hard on each other.  People can be so cruel.  My heart swells that justice came to fruition in the final vote that included both Democrats and 3 Republicans making Justice Jackson win the seat on the Supreme Court yesterday.  These are hard times, yet seeing her ascent to the Supreme Court Justice role she so well deserves and watching Ketanji Brown Jackson’s steady poise and resolve throughout the searing hearings, I join those doing a ‘happy dance’ for this moment of righteous grace.

Dean Tracy Kachur, School of Professional and Graduate Studies: 

This is wonderful news! …despite the disparaging treatment and by certain members of the Judiciary Committee with outright lies and misinformation  Justice Jackson showed poise, grace, and resilience. Our students witnessed Michelle Obama’s words in real time – “When they go low, we go high.”  She will be a refreshing addition to the Court.  As an attorney admitted to practice before the Supreme Court, former Constitutional Law professor and Black woman, I am doing a happy dance in my office!

Adjunct Professor Tarinna Olley wrote this poem:

This is America #The Black Woman 

It’s a historic day for the world 

Supreme Court Justice Kentanji Brown Jackson confirmed 

after years of making political traction 

and facing insurmountable odds that many humans would have cracked under 

She endured despite receiving public humiliation and unwarranted thunder 

From the opposing side who tried to make her blunder 

A Black woman from humble beginnings who had a dream 

Dr. King had visions of such things 

And was assassinated in the fight and experienced so much plight 

But he kept saying We Shall Overcome 

Supreme Court Justice  Kentanji Brown Jackson confirmation says to Black and brown girls around the world 

That they too have a voice and matter 

This confirmation helped reshape and reform those who let their mind chatter 

Saying they couldn’t break through glass ceilings because of the color of their skin 

But this sends hope and encourages Black women and girls to really dig in 

Dig into your dreams and aspirations 

Let the sky be the only limitation 

Yes you will face scrutiny 

Yes you will shed a tear 

But keep your head up and hang in there 

Anything is possible 

Keep living and walking out every last goal, vision, and dream 

Because our Black ancestors fought, bled, were lynched, and died 

So we could keep pride and dignity on our side 

This is America 

Black women are the fiber and foundation of it 

Lyrical Lines by Professor Tarinna Olley 


Front page of the New York Times, April 7, 2022:

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