Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

LOVE: Finding Community in GSP


The first night I spent at Georgetown University was at the university hotel, with my mom and I in a bed and my dad on a couch somewhere. I spent the night in stressful tears that didn’t subside when my mom told me it would be okay. I was going to be thousands of miles away, traversing personal and academic terrain that my family could never understand. 

Although I knew I had support from the Georgetown Scholars Program, which was really my primary reason for attending Georgetown, I didn’t know what that really meant. I just felt like a small, insignificant freshman at a too-distinguished-for-me-to-belong-here university. I finally fell asleep — that exhaustive, heavy kind of sleep — wedged between my mom’s arms, tears stiffly clinging to her shoulders and my cheeks.

I woke up for my first day of classes with a text from my dad: “We need to talk, can we call you tonight? I assumed my parents just wanted to make sure I wasn’t dead and that I was enjoying myself. I drifted lightly through that first day of classes, thinking over what moments I would share with my parents later.

I knew something was different by how quickly my dad picked up, the anticipation, as if he had been sitting and waiting by the phone all day. “It’s on speaker,” he asserted in an overly aggressive opening. “Your mom and brother are here as well.” I didn’t really understand why Koby was on the line. He wasn’t interested in my life, and my parents weren’t the type to force him to talk to me.

There was a sharp inhale on their end of the line. “Your mother and I are separating. It was her decision to leave me. She did this.” Then, there was muffled crying. I still don’t know from whom.

I couldn’t respond. I hadn’t prepared a response. I had prepared to tell them that my chemistry professor seemed really cool and quirky, that there was free food in Dahlgren Quadrangle and I didn’t have to eat at the cafeteria, and that the last bits of my dorm decorations had gone up and to ask whether they wanted me to send them a picture of the finished product. But this was something I never could have prepared for. 

The year that followed was jampacked with an influx of little intricate details of the separation, of the falsities of my parents’ marriage, of my childhood shattering right when an adulthood was beginning to form. I felt isolated by this experience, one that felt starkly contrasted by my peers’. 

While others were learning how to handle their workload, I was skipping class to talk my brother out of his suicidal “this is my fault” thoughts. I was mediating information and emotion between each of my family members from thousands of miles away. Neither of my parents could afford a divorce. My mom took more pills. My sister was in rehab getting clean. My dad was lying to my face. My brother needed money. My life at Georgetown wasn’t questioned by anyone because it was the least urgent matter. My purpose was to be an on-call support system.

A month into school, I signed up for Cookies with Corey in the GSP office, mostly for the cookies, but also because I thought maybe Corey would know what to do. I was behind in my classes, and I was working two jobs to make ends meet at school and to buy a ticket home to see my family. I was ready to leave Georgetown behind. My mom needed me, and college wasn’t my thing.

Little did I know that Corey’s advising would become the reason I am still at Georgetown today, and the first of the many restorative experiences that GSP family has blessed me with. He talked me through all the resources GSP and Georgetown could offer me financially, academically and otherwise. But more importantly, he listened. He let me get the pressure and the anxiety off my chest. He ended the conversation with, “You are not here by accident. Georgetown needs you. Just give it a chance.” Corey reaffirmed that everything I was experiencing should not prevent me from living and enjoying myself at Georgetown.

Corey was just one of many people in the GSP community who have repeatedly reminded me that I belong at Georgetown. Saham Ali, my freshman chemistry partner and a GSPer herself, listened to my complaints about textbook prices and pointed me toward the Center for Multicultural Equity and Access library. Sonali Mirpuri, a friend and GSPer from my Spanish class, became my go-to when I needed to cry after a tough day. These people, and countless others, made me feel less alone, but they also reminded me that it was okay to be vulnerable, to need support. Even more so, they reminded me that going through the emotional and sometimes financial burdens of our daily lives as GSPers equipped us with a specific skill set that made tackling Georgetown much less intimidating.

As often happens in GSP, the staff are poised to be more than “advisors” and the students are poised to be more than just peers in the same program. They informally become mentors, older siblings, teachers, therapists and coordinators to this amazing program of resilient people who truly care about and support one another. The individuals that make GSP as accepting and strong as it is do so by proving, time and time again, that no obstacle is too complicated to overcome. Whether it be personal, academic or financial, our issues do not exempt us from being happy, healthy Georgetown students. We are not here by accident. Georgetown needs us. Just give it a chance.


Caitland Love is a junior in the College. Proud to be GSP appears online every other Monday.

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