As a campus tour guide, I am often confronted with questions such as, “Why did you come to Georgetown? Why should I pick Georgetown? What makes Georgetown different?” from prospective students.
But for students who are already on campus, these are questions that don’t get asked often enough. They are difficult questions to answer, because outwardly, Georgetown students aren’t all that unique.
Georgetown is not the only nationally ranked research university. Georgetown is not the only great university in the District. Georgetown is not even the only exemplary Catholic university in the United States. For all intents and purposes, Georgetown students seem virtually the same as students at Harvard, George Washington and Notre Dame.
Despite all this, there is a distinctive atmosphere on campus, a strange and elusive sensation permeating the Hilltop and affecting its students. The names given to this peculiarity are as diverse as they are intangible. Personally, from the six tours of Georgetown I took before stepping onto campus as a freshman to the nearly three years I have now spent under the banner of the dear old Blue and Gray, I think it comes down to one thing: purposeful passion.
It is the energy of Georgetown and its students that makes this school so wonderfully unique. Students are excited to be at Georgetown — to be learning, working and striving — in short, to be living. Students are zealous, and the aggregation of so many in one place creates a culture of vigor and inspiration. Each day that I am surrounded by such impassioned energy, I am inspired more and more in my own work, hopes and dreams.
There are two Jesuit mantras that serve as windows into the heart of Georgetown. The first is magis, Latin for “more,” but the Jesuit denotation of the word is beyond quantity or quality. To embrace magis is to embrace the uncomfortable life, to always be surprised, to always be seeking, to never settle and never rest until one rests in that which is the ultimate end. Students who experience magis every day constantly challenge themselves to go beyond themselves, to gaze with new perspectives, to break barriers, to explore cultures and to wander the universe even if they never leave the campus.
Yet the idea of magis can only be fully understood in light of the motto of the Society of Jesus, ad majorem dei gloriam, which means “for the greater glory of God.” Every student I know chose to come to Georgetown because he wanted to belong to something larger than himself. He recognizes how blessed he is to be a student at Georgetown and wants to give back to the community that sacrificed so much to allow him to attend. Students here know that an education is not achieved exclusively in an ivory tower but on the ground, with other people, especially those who need our help the most.
Georgetown is at the intersection of the Catholic, Jesuit and American foundations of education. This is where passion meets purpose. I think, deep down, every Georgetown student’s heart murmurs some of the wisdom of Pedro Arrupe, the 28th Jesuit superior general, who preached the importance of falling in love, staying in love and letting that love transform all that is done, for it will decide everything.
I don’t know how many parents and high school students can understand this “Hoya-ness” as I conclude my tours, but I think that every Georgetown student can identify with this description. From the Class of 2012 to 2016, it is the identity over which we all must muse. And as the semester comes to a close and we leave campus for the summer or for the rest of our lives, know that this “Hoya-ness” can be carried beyond the gates of Georgetown. May you one day return more authentically a Georgetown student than when you left.
Michael Fischer is a junior in the School of Foreign Service. This is the last appearance of CURA HOYANALIS.