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

Looking Back and Leaping Forward — Stephanie Gatton

Looking Back and Leaping Forward – Stephanie Gatton

Former Hoya editor reflect upon their time at Georgetown and at The Hoya.

Toward the end of my sophomore year, I wrote a column for Ted Gup’s Journalism Workshop which was later published in The Hoya. Accompanying the columns of two other Hoya editors, it was printed as part of a Mother’s Day feature. Obviously, the subject of my writing was my mother. But unlike the other columnists who celebrated their living, breathing parents, I could only honor my precious, long-gone mother, who died when I was 11. Last week, on her birthday, I dug up that column from some dusty crevice of my room and reread what I wrote, which included the following passage:

“As young girls, we think our mothers will be with us for eternity. We never envision passing life’s little monuments without her by our side. Imagine having no one to explain to you about your first menstruation and – when you think you’ve finally got it – dragging the phone into the bathroom and calling your father at work exclaiming, `I think it’s happening, Dad!’ This was me. My mom wasn’t there for my high school graduation. She won’t be there either when I graduate from Georgetown. Or when I get married. Or when I have children. I am influenced as much by her death as I am by her life.”

“When I graduate from Georgetown.” The words echoed in my mind incessantly, and just like that, I was rudely reminded that with my graduation only one month away, I’d begin missing her all over again.

Perhaps this is a fairly bittersweet way to look back upon my college years, but when you think about it, isn’t the very essence of graduation bittersweet? We want to get out into the world and make something of ourselves, but at the same time we just want one more semester of college classes, college parties and college friends. Not having a strong family network to fall back on, my high school and college years have been spent nurturing a ready-made family of friends who – although they could never replace my mother – picked up where she left off in taking care of me, watching me grow and helping me love and learn.

Having been raised in the D.C. area, I eagerly looked forward to college away from home. What I found when I arrived in the rolling hills of Nowheresville, Pennsylvania in the fall of 1995 was that I should’ve thought about that decision a little bit more than I had. Freshman year at my predominantly female, isolated-on-top-of-a-hill college provided quite the culture shock for the city girl within me. One day in November – at the urging of my two friends who had recently told me they were transferring – I picked up the phone, dialed Washington information and connected through to the Georgetown admissions office. For me, Georgetown meant coming home. And nine months later, that was exactly what I did.

In its own way, Georgetown has forced me into a culture I was previously unfamiliar with. My family was never rich, and so the whole notion of yuppie, preppie, well-off people was something of a mystery to me. But instead of hiding from the differences or stereotyping the rich, I embraced the chance to define my own unique self. I came to Georgetown knowing that I was different, feeling that I was different, but not merely because of money. I was never one of those kids who dreamed of going to an Ivy League school, or to a pseudo-Ivy such as Georgetown. It just sort of fell in my lap, and I took it.

If you ask anyone who knows me well, they will undoubtedly tell you that I am one of the most overextended, busy, committed people they’ve ever met. This is the reputation I’ve acquired in my time here. From the very beginning, I felt the need within me to get involved. By this I don’t mean saving the earth or reforming student government or anything else along those lines, but rather to view my college years as the long-awaited chance to do everything I’d ever had a passion for and to live out as many opportunities as possible.

One by one, these passions began to pile up. I’d always loved to write, and during my freshman year that was what I decided I wanted to pursue. Sophomore year I began working for The Hoya in the newly created Hoya Guide. Those first few months of The Guide are ones I’ll never forget. Still in the infant stages, then-Entertainment Editor Andrew Curry (SFS ’98), Editor-in-Chief John Keenan (COL ’98) and Associate Editor Elizabeth Raposo (COL ’98) had a vision of something that could be so much bigger than what it was, and I went along for the ride. We were doing things the paper hadn’t seen before, expanding the section at times to six pages a week. I remember a discussion with one of my editors, who told me that The Guide could never be bigger than the rest of the paper. “It just wouldn’t be right,” he huffed. The following year I watched for his reaction when I took that section to eight pages, then ten. Even now, every time I open up The Hoya and see a ten-page pullout Guide, I think of him and smile.

While The Hoya was my first surrogate family at Georgetown, student theater has proven to be my most lasting and rewarding home. I’d always been a lover of theater and wanted to learn more about it. Like most other artists on this campus, I was dismayed to learn of the university’s indifference to the arts, but happy once I realized that there were still on-campus offerings. Over the past three years I’ve worked on one dozen shows at Georgetown, primarily with Nomadic Theatre, but also with ask & Bauble. Working so closely and intensely on these shows allowed me to see that my creative energies were being invested in the wrong place. I came to Georgetown to be a writer and was so adamant about that one art that I forgot the foundation for my creativity lay within the theater. In working on shows such as “Six Degrees of Separation,” “Harvey,” “Moonchildren,” “A Day in the Death of Joe Egg” and “Desdemona,” I returned to my first love, reinvigorated by the process and committed to making it my career.

These days, I am often asked what I’m doing with my life after Georgetown. Unlike many of my classmates (but I’m equally convinced that like many of my classmates), I’m not exactly sure. I know what I want and I know how to get there, but what I’m not sure about is when I want to arrive. Aside from the lease which commits me to living in D.C. for another year, my future plans are unconfirmed. This summer, I’m making my first trip to England for one month. I may love it so much I’ll never come back. I may score a series of stage managing jobs at area theaters, or I may take a safe, secure position at the film advertising agency I currently intern for. Who knows? I care, but at the same time, I don’t. I’m in no rush to be something because I already am. I’ll get there (wherever that universal, undefined “there” is), but I recognize the importance of savoring these moments as much as I can. Like my mother, I plan on living a long time. But also like my mother, I could be busy at work one day and eternally silent the next. Perhaps this desire to totally embrace life was her greatest legacy to me.

(Okay, here’s the part where I start thanking people and naming names, and unless you’re one of those names, you probably don’t give a damn. I know this. This is okay. You can skip to the final paragraph or read on to see if you’re mentioned. I’ll leave that up to you).

As I said before, I’ve formed a family at Georgetown stronger than any blood relation I’ve ever had, and there’s no way I’d leave them without letting them know what they mean to me.

To all of my Nomads (Alex, Erik, Brady, Elizabeth, Mario, Stephanie, Shalhoub, Derek, Jan, Dave, Alix, Conrad, Eileen, Alyssa, Sarah, Jeff, Brian, Adam, Lindsay, Julia, Danielle, Cuffe, Chris, Anna, Carey, Anjana, Denise, Christian, Dave, Kullen, Chris, Heather, Mara, Luc and Phil, who defies categorization): Thank you for being the amazing, fun, talented, exciting, ghetto-style people that you are, for letting me play with you and for giving me a home.

To my early Hoya crew (Curry, Keenan, Liz, Jim, Janelle, Amir, iguel, Katie, Jonah, Charlie, Gaertner, Elaine, Bill, Clay, Donovan, Ann, Sloane, Matt, Flynn, Hruby, DeMartino, Eric, Keren, Graham and Dash): Y’all made every Thursday night cooped up in 421 Leavey more-than-memorable. None of it will I regret, much of it I will miss.

To all my professors (particularly John Glavin, Sarah Marshall, David Gewanter, David Kadlec, Richard Webster, Karen Berman and Elizabeth Prelinger): You pushed me to be an artist, be it in poetry, scriptwriting, jazz, acting or theatre production. Your education has been an invaluable gift to me. Thank you.

To the closest of the close (Craig, Min, Jim, Rasheen, Patrick, Nancy, Keren, Lindsay and Alex): You all have made these past three years for me. There is no replacing you, the memories we have or the future we will create together. You are the best of my friends and I could not live without you.

To Mark: The discovery of you has been the best part of my senior year. You are my partner, my best friend and my happiness. I love you.

Everything I am today is in some way because of these people, but ultimately because of my mom, too. I can just picture her sitting on Healy Lawn, anxiously awaiting the commencement procession with every other mother, swatting a fly that circles her face and sweltering in the Washington humidity she’s grown to know so well. Sadly for me, that’s a picture that will only live in my mind. Georgetown has been a tough road to travel without her, but it has been done. So, as cheesy as this sounds, this graduation is for you, Mom; I can only hope that somewhere, somehow, I have made you proud.

Stephanie Gatton is a former senior Guide editor, Guide editor, assistant Guide editor and contributing editor for The Hoya.

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