Voices of Trinity: Class of 2023 Success!

May 14, 2023

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. 

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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The Trials and Triumphs of the Founding of Trinity

April 26, 2023

Sister Julia McGroarty, SND (left photo) was 70 years old in 1897, the year of Trinity’s founding.  As the Superior of the Sisters of Notre Dame, she oversaw the work of Sr. Mary Euphrasia and the SNDs on the scene in Washington who were ardently pursuing their vision of a college for women on the order of the men’s colleges of that day.

Founding Trinity was an astonishing achievement.  A handwritten manuscript — “A Sketch of the Foundation” — recounts in considerable detail the hard work, progress, setbacks, opposition and ultimate triumphs of these visionary women, semi-cloistered nuns who had to navigate the byzantine pathways of 19th Century Church rules and politics, DC issues even back then, higher education on the cusp of the 20th Century, and their own lack of resources — professional experience, education, money — in order to give life to the idea of Trinity.

They moved with amazing speed in 1897.  Perhaps the fastest thing that ever happened at Trinity was its founding.  The manuscript starts on March 1, 1897 in Cincinnati where several of the sisters were gathered and each shared her vision for a Catholic college for women.

Galvanized by their unusual idea, they immediately set about the task of learning how to develop a college, where it should be located, how to conceptualize the buildings and grounds, the curriculum and faculty, and most importantly, the students.  They reached out to the leaders of then-new Catholic University, and the men were glad to lend their expertise because they realized the need for such a college for women — women were applying to Catholic University but suffered rejection because, in 1897 and on through the middle of the 20th century, Catholics viewed coeducation as almost sinful.  The SNDs and priests at Catholic University were scandalized when they learned that a large number of Catholic women were enrolled at what was then known as Columbian College — now George Washington University.

But not everyone at Catholic University was happy about the idea of Trinity.  Even as the SNDs went about surveying properties and planning the first building, certain right-wing priests at CUA spread a rumor that the sisters really intended Trinity to be a coeducational partner of Catholic U.  That rumor reached Pope Leo XIII who indicated he might withhold approval of the founding of Trinity.  But Sr. Julia and Sr. Mary Euphrasia were persistent, clever, and not easily dissuaded, even by a pope.  After weeks of correspondence between the sisters and Cardinal James Gibbons in Baltimore, and the papal nuncio Cardinal Martinelli, at last word came from the Vatican that the pope would not intervene.  Nuns won!

On August 20, 1897, just six months after that visionary conversation among the sisters in Cincinnati, the Founders secured articles of incorporation to confirm the establishment of Trinity College in Washington, D.C.

The SNDs surveyed a number of properties in the vicinity of Catholic University— in those days this part of Washington was considered to be countryside, with little development and many wide open spaces.  Eventually, they chose the parcel of land belonging to Glenwood Cemetery along a dirt road that would become Michigan Avenue.  The construction of Main Hall began in late 1899, and the first class arrived —- the Class of 1904 — on November 3, 1900.

(Top photo: circa 1904, Main Hall incomplete and Michigan Avenue starting to take shape;  Bottom photo:  circa 1903, view of the emerging Main Hall from the site of the construction of McMillan Reservoir — before the sand filters and aqueducts were built, before the concrete towers…)

As we celebrate Trinity’s 125th Anniversary, we will be continuing to highlight important historic dates.  In Fall 2024, we will observe two big dates:  the laying of the cornerstone of Main Hall in 1899.  Also, the 100th Anniversary of the opening of Notre Dame Chapel.  In 2025, we will close the anniversary era with a celebration of the 125th Anniversary of the first students and faculty arriving on campus and the start of classes.

In all of our celebrations, we remember our Founders, those courageous women whose bold idea continues to touch and transform lives well into the 21st Century.  As we enjoy our Founders Day picnic and festivities, let us pause to give thanks and a big “Hurrah!” for Sister Julia McGroarty, Sister Mary Euphrasia Taylor, and all of the SNDs since then whose passionate commitment to Trinity makes this amazing mission possible.

Happy Founders Day!

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Seeking Safety in Perilous Times

April 16, 2023

Scrolling through Twitter early on Sunday morning I find a tweet from DC police about an armed carjacking at 8 am at the intersection of North Capitol and Michigan Avenue.

Sunday!  8 am!  People on their way to church and family gatherings… no time, no place, no day is safe in these perilous times.  Street crime has been on the rise in DC for months.  Metropolitan Police have hundreds of vacancies as scores of officers quit each month and not enough recruits sign-up.  Mayor Bowser and Chief Contee will soon testify before Congress (House Committee on Oversight and Government Accountability) about the myriad problems that contribute to crime in the city.  But no amount of earnest pledges by local officials or grandstanding by Congressional overseers will stanch the flow of criminal activity and sheer misery for thousands of local residents.

Crime is hardly just a DC problem.  American society is saturated with guns and grievances.  Violence is overwhelming communities and cities across the nation.  Even as I write, there’s news of more mass shootings, another one in Louisville and one in Alabama.  But the National Rifle Association went on with its convention last week, and prominent politicians gladly mounted that dais to proclaim their affection for guns (and, by extension, the money of the gun lobby).  These same politicos, by the way, claim “pro-life” credentials even as the bloody tide of gun violence grows larger each day.  Political hypocrisy also feeds the sense of hopelessness that engenders violent choices among people who feel there is no hope for them.  (And the “pro-life” politicians who call for rapid executions of those who commit murders with guns don’t seem to understand that the criminals really don’t care, execution is not a deterrent among those who feel they have nothing to lose in this society.  Those same politicians refuse to do anything about the high tide of weaponry drowning America.)

Everyone is on edge.  Last Thursday at Trinity, we experienced the particular horror of a vague report of an active shooter, a report that was false, that turned out to be a total hoax perpetrated across the country.  Catholic University had the same experience, as did schools, colleges and universities in Texas, Oklahoma, Illinois, Colorado, New York and other states.  These incidents of hoax calls are called “swatting” — someone places a false call of a bomb threat or active shooter to the police in order to provoke the police to respond with their SWAT units.  “SWAT” stands for “special weapons and tactics” and police in those units have special training to respond to dangerous emergencies.

Trinity Security received a call from MPD around 9:50 am saying that someone (a male person who gave a name) called MPD 911 with a threat of an active shooter “in a computer lab” identified as “Room 218” — Trinity has no computer labs in any “Room 218” but we have to take every threat seriously.  The caller did not name Trinity but did give our street address.  Later on we learned that a similar call also targeted Catholic University at the same time.  MPD arrived quickly and instructed us to issue the lockdown alert, which we did on the text message system.  A SWAT team went into the library since we have a computer lab there.  Several other police officers went into Main Hall to check the computer labs here.  The entire incident took about ten minutes and the police told us to issue the “all clear” notice.

At no time was there any actual threat or danger on campus.  But we do have to take every report very seriously.  I know that getting an alert about a lockdown is upsetting — all of us share that feeling.  It is a terrible statement about the times in which we live that someone somewhere — some reports say these swatting incidents come from an international location —  someone gets off on terrifying other people.  Emotional terror is another weapon of a violent society.

I appreciate everyone’s cooperation and the professional guidance of Trinity Security Chief Andrea Glascoe and Vice President for Student Affairs Karen Gerlach who were promptly on the scene and working with the police.

I am also grateful for the various comments, suggestions and insights that I received from members of the Trinity community after this incident.  Trinity is a very safe campus but we can always improve.   Security is everyone’s business and we need your cooperation to maintain a high level of safety.  Even as we continue to evaluate the incident and talk with the police about next steps, we ask that you adopt these practices as well:

  1.  Situational Awareness:  be aware of what’s going on in every space where you are — if you are in a classroom, know the room number and building name; same if you are in an office or other location indoors.  Accuracy of reporting locations is key to the speed of emergency response.  Also, know where the nearest fire exits are.
  2. Doors and locks:  we have received some complaints that some locks do not work from the inside.  Please check the doors and locks of the rooms where you are and let us know if we need to repair a lock.
  3. Emergency Communications:  we use a text message system for alerts.  Text one word:  trinitydcalerts to this number:  866-925-2949
  4. What to do when you get an emergency alert: the alert will give you basic instructions.  If the alert says “lockdown, stay where you are” it means exactly that.  At other times, the instruction might be to evacuate, and that would normally include an instruction about where to go once outside.  Every incident is different.  In the incident last Thursday, we were dependent upon the instructions of the police, and that is often the case.  We are aware that the alerts cause anxiety but it’s important to stick to the process as much as possible.
  5. If you are outdoors, as some students were last Thursday, the best thing to do is to stay outside but move to a sheltered location, e.g., near a building or other location that offers some shelter.
  6. Once we sent out emergency alerts, we also use email for longer instructions and information since text messages are limited.  We also use email for all those affected to let us know where you are and if you need help.  We have an emergency mailbox for this purpose emergency@trinitydc.edu
  7. Some comments after the incident complained that we seem to be lax about requiring everyone to show ID when coming onto campus and into buildings.  We can try again to have the ID protocol, but we also need everyone’s cooperation with the practice.  Too often, our Security personnel get angry and disrespectful comments when they ask for ID.  They are on the front lines for us and they deserve respect and cooperation.
  8. Some comments indicated a concern about security overall.  In fact, Trinity has an excellent campus safety track record — but I surely know that we are only as safe as the next event, not the last one.  Our personnel get regular training and we have the resources of Allied Universal backing them up.  We also have a very extensive system of cameras on campus and we do maintain constant surveillance even when you may not see a guard in the booth.  We spend about $1.5 million on security services each year, a very large amount given the size of Trinity, but worth every penny.  We will be adding more cameras this summer and reviewing additional steps we can take to be sure that we maintain an excellent campus safety track record.
  9. Please let us know whenever you see anything that appears to be a security problem — a suspicious person, or someone not paying attention, or something else.  Better to report than to remain quiet.  “See something, say something” is exactly right!
  10. We are also in dialogue with Catholic University and the MPD about how we can improve safety and security along the entire Michigan Avenue corridor.

I do appreciate everyone’s comments, and please know that our executive team and I spend a great deal of time on security matters.  I also appreciate the many students, faculty and staff who are actively engaged in advocacy to promote an end to gun violence.  Ultimately, we must be on the front lines of insisting that this society find a way to reduce the violence and increase the opportunities to enjoy the kind of “life, liberty and happiness” that we all have a right to experience.

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Reaching for Resurrection

April 9, 2023


(Easter morning at the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge)

Today, Easter Sunday, 2023, once again we celebrate the Resurrection of Christ, the holiest day on the Catholic and Christian calendar, the day that life triumphed over death, the day that gives us hope for the future, joy in our faith, confidence in our ability to create a good society of peace and justice.

But today, as we raise our hands high in praise to the Lord, in a gesture of reaching for the Resurrection, we find that the reach truly exceeds our ability to grasp right now as American political and social dysfunction cast dark and ominous shadows across our hopes and dreams for the good society we seek.  On Sunday we go to church to sing Hosanna!  On Monday we return to the bitter divisions and angry battles of a nation founded to ensure equal justice and freedom for all,  but plagued in too many places by rabid instincts to oppression.  What is going on in our country right now seems like a long and tortured passion play with no end in sight, act after act enacted by truly bad actors who seem to take pernicious delight in destroying the hopes and dreams of other people.

The latest example — why is there always a “latest example” every time I write? — the latest example arises in Tennessee where two Black legislators were expelled from the Tennessee State House of Representatives for engaging in a protest in support of gun violence demonstrators.  The demonstration followed the horrific fatal shooting of three children and three staff members of the Covenant School in Nashville, only the lastest in a long series of mass shootings.  Tennessee Representatives Justin Jones, Justin Pearson and Gloria Johnson encouraged the protestors who were in the House gallery, including calling out to them with bullhorns.  The white men who control the legislature were so enraged that they immediately started proceedings to remove Representatives Jones and Pearson, who are young Black men, and that vote succeeded.  They also sought to remove Representative Johnson, who is white, but that vote did not succeed.  In short, the two Black men were summarily thrown out of their elected positions while the white woman remained in hers.  The racial injustice is obvious, and, sadly, predictable.  The fact that the retaliation occurred in response to a protest about gun violence should not be lost in our outrage over the racism; both dimensions of the Tennessee legislature’s action are despicable.

Unfortunately, what happened in Tennessee last week was not the only recent evidence of grotesque political acts that are so unworthy of our nation.  The former president, as expected, was indicted for paying “hush money” to a woman with whom he allegedly had an affair.  Bad enough behavior, yes.  But, worse, his expressions of egregious, vicious contempt for the judge, the prosecutor and others associated with the case demonstrate outlandish disrespect for the law and legal process, a kind of outlaw behavior that encourages others to do the same.  His language after his arraignment paralleled his language after his loss in the 2020 election, echoed his speech on January 6, language and incitement that would land any other person behind bars immediately.  But, no, in his case he continues to prance on the public stage, an irresistible object for the mainstream media klieg lights. No one who claims leadership in this nation should show such blatant contempt for the law and those who are responsible to steward the legal process.

We sing Alleluja! He is Risen! even as we wonder when WE will rise again.  We spend even more time wondering, worrying, when the next terrible act will occur.  We turn on our yellow and blue lights in solidarity with Ukraine but after a year the modest expression of care seems tired; our ability to express empathy for people living through that horror has faded as other horrors crowd the headlines.  Florida. Texas. Mississippi. Each day brings another story of states overturning norms and laws and protections we thought were long settled.  Academic Freedom, Freedom of Speech, Women’s Rights, the rights of persons who are part of the LGBTQ community.  Each day brings new examples of the rise of authoritarianism, the exposure of white supremacy, the hatred that some people express toward others, all alive and well in the underbelly of state politics in too many places.

We need to pause on this day of Resurrection to consider what we can and should do to restore the promise of our nation to ensure freedom, equality and justice for all people.  I am reading a fascinating book entitled The Lincoln Miracle that recounts how Abraham Lincoln wound up being the then-new Republican Party’s nominee for president of the United States when he entered the 1860 convention as an after-thought at best.  What’s important about this tale is the way it reveals all of the dangers this nation faced in the run-up to Lincoln’s presidency — the chronic fragmentation of a nation that was founded on a bitter compromise about slavery, the refusal of the South to accept the inevitable end of that horrific institution, the racism that even Lincoln casually voiced on so many occasions.  And, yet, Lincoln’s moral voice was compelling, his courage in speaking out about the moral evil of slavery let to his nomination and presidency.  Lincoln is an example of how a hugely flawed person with a piercing moral view of the way this nation must come to grips with its original sin managed to get elected and lead the nation through one of the worst periods in American history, the Civil War.

The Civil War never ended entirely, and we live in the backwash of its massive ripples even 150 years later.  We need leaders such as Lincoln, a plain person who could speak and act with moral clarity, personal resilience and the strength to lead in extraordinarily fractious times.  We don’t need more sideshows, insurrections or expulsions; we need genuinely devoted citizen leaders, each of us willing to step up to do the hard work to make our communities, cities, states and nation better places for all.  We need leaders who can proclaim the clarion call of the Resurrection to construct a society of hope, justice and peace.  On this Easter Sunday, let us pray that we can find such courageous leaders in sufficient number to restore a sense of balance, perspective and the essential moral center that respects and supports the dignity of all persons.

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Schooling Congressman Palmer

April 2, 2023

Map of Washington, D.C.

(Look at the beautiful array of neighborhoods on this DC map!  Look at how small Capitol Hill is, surrounded by lovely, vibrant, productive neighborhoods! Maybe congresspeople from outside of our city should visit some neighborhoods they’ve never been to before speaking in racist, disparaging terms about our city!)

There’s a shameful, ignorant movement abroad in the land to deny schoolchildren access to library books and curricula that might teach the truth of America’s tortured history on the topic of race.  Governors and state legislators are working in overdrive to ban lessons on slavery, systemic racism, white supremacy, diversity, equity, inclusion and related topics.  1619 Project?  Heck NO! Purge the books from the library and threaten the teachers with summary firing if they dare venture onto truth-telling about America’s Original Sin.  The children need to learn to revere the Founding Fathers in all their starchy tricorne poses; no need to bother the little ones with the facts about how many slaves each one owned, and how the economics of slavery figured into their calculations about making war with Mother England and then constructing a new nation thereafter.

But the children are very smart, and, deprived of books and curricula, they will still learn the facts about America’s Original Sin of Racism because the facts splash themselves across our screens every single day.  No need to bother the kids with arcane explanations of the Three-Fifths Compromise!  Instead, let the children watch Congressional hearings in which supposedly Modern Men who think they are working in the shadow of the Founding Fathers bleat out the most contemptible racist tropes.

Exhibit A:

Yes, that’s right, Congressman Gary Palmer (R-AL) trashed the D.C. Schools and D.C. students in a truly despicable manner, using a phrase that is deeply racist, implying that many if not most D.C. students are criminals.  Why would a member of Congress stoop so low as to insult every single student, teacher and parent associated with the D.C. Schools?  This is no sloppy turn-of-a-phrase, it is something that we might guess Palmer and his ilk say in private all the time in reference to a school system that is predominantly Black.

Children know what the adults are saying, and this kind of racist insult is deeply hurtful and harmful.  But it also illustrates all of the reasons why we must continue to teach the children about the racist dimensions of U.S. History, because the racism is not some past failing, but rather, a contemporary scandal that our children today must learn to deal with effectively so that it does not overwhelm their hopes and ambitions. We know these children at Trinity; they are our students, too.  They have large dreams. They are very smart and ambitious.  They want to change their lives, improve the circumstances of their children and families.  Their potential for our city and our nation is enormous.  But the disparagement of the casual racist taunt, the discouragement of the continuing climate for racial hatred, the prejudice and discrimination that boils over in all the shameful rhetoric can have the effect of limiting the horizons of the young, poisoning eager hearts with bitter cynicism before the potential can be fully realized.  Hope dissipates.  Racism thwarts, demeans, stifles and smothers the once-high aspirations.  That’s reality; that’s the consequence of irresponsible, despicable comments like Congressman Palmer’s.

The racist history of the United States never went away; the elements of white supremacy continued to burn like embers left untended on the campfires after the Civil War.  Lincoln may have signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, the Supreme Court may have finally ruled against “separate but equal” in 1954, Lyndon Johnson might have signed the Civil Rights Act in 1964, but the racial hatred did not go away.  Purging this nation of its racist tendencies is a sisyphean struggle, with some years of progress and many years of devolution.

Congressman Palmer’s attack on the D.C. Public Schools came during a hearing that is an even larger example of the racial sickness that still grips too many Americans.  Congressional Republicans called the hearing to disparage and berate some D.C. officials for the recent legislative effort to modernize the D.C. Criminal Code.  The D.C. bill became an excuse for members of Congress to exercise an extraordinary veto over the self-determination rights of D.C. citizens.  D.C. is a majority minority city, with a Black population that is about 45% this year.  Right-wing politicians have set their sights on rolling back the relatively limited Home Rule that D.C. citizens achieved in 1974.  The deliberate disenfranchisement of D.C. citizens is another example of the racial insult that keeps coming back decades after we thought the battle was over.  (See my recent blog on The Last Colony)

Members of Congress should be attending to the needs of their own constituents.  By all reports, the Alabama schools might need some attention, Congressman Palmer!  But we won’t disparage Alabama’s students or teachers by using racist tropes to describe them.  All of us who do the heavy lifting in education know that there are many challenges as well as beautiful success stories.  We educators don’t claim that every day is all good; some days are actually very stressful.  But we have chosen to devote our lives, our intellects and our best talents to helping the children to learn as much as possible so they, too, can educate and elevate future generations.  ALL children need encouragement and incentive to keep learning and growing.  NO children should be subjected to racist, bigoted, disparaging labels spoken by ignorant people in power.

Oh, and, Congressman Palmer?  We can provide some Diversity, Equity and Inclusion training for you if you’d like to work on your tendency to blurt out racist phrases …. let me know!

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