Alexander Brown/The Hoya
ALEXANDER BROWN/THE HOYA

“How do you feel about graduating?!” It’s the senior year equivalent to New Student Orientation’s “Name/hometown/major?” We all have our own canned responses, but none of them quite contain the nuances that four years on the Hilltop entail.

For those of us who bleed Hoya Blue, graduation can be a bittersweet time, full of last-minute parties, nostalgic Facebook back-stalking and late-night heart-to-hearts. However, Georgetown has been more of a struggle for some of us. With appreciation and respect, I want to dedicate this piece to those of my classmates whose undergraduate careers have come at a cost and those of you who have worked to make Georgetown a better place than you found it.

Don’t get me wrong — while my time at Georgetown has often been difficult, it has also been invaluable. My academic learning has been complemented by the development of life skills and self-awareness that comes about only through experience. I came to the Hilltop as an eager yet shy, little Midwestern boy who had almost no concept of what he was getting himself into. And while I came to Georgetown for the academics, I stayed for the uphill battles of self-discovery, community formation and social justice that I found on campus.

Much of what I have learned about myself and the world around me has been in opposition to the institution.

I learned about classism and my working-class identity with each unpaid internship I turned down in favor of paid manual labor, each doctor’s appointment I couldn’t make because of issues with my insurance and each networking event I skipped out of sheer discomfort.

I learned about cissexism and my genderqueerness from every professor who thought I was two different people, from every evil eye and snide remark in the common room, the bathroom and the lawn, and every explicitly discriminatory statement from administrators.

I learned about ableism and my anxiety, patriarchy and my survivor status, racism and my white privilege, heterosexism and my asexuality. Learning these things about myself and the world has been instrumental, though the means of learning has not always been affirming.

Therefore, I’d like to take a moment and recognize all of the incredible people at Georgetown. For all the first-generation college students. For everyone whose English was not “academic” enough. For everyone whose necessary accommodations were considered superfluous. For everyone who took a leave of absence. For everyone whose undergraduate career was more than four years but kept at it. For everyone who had to work to support themselves or their family. For everyone who visited Counseling and Psychiatric Services or Health Services.

For the underpaid and overworked staff in Student Affairs. For everyone whose denomination is not accommodated by Campus Ministry. For every non-traditional student. For everyone who works in maintenance and food service. For all the student parents. For everyone for whom a broken elevator was more than just a mild inconvenience. For all the veterans. For everyone who filed a bias-related incident report. For all the survivors of sexual assault on campus. For everyone who was tokenized or excluded. For everyone who put off that paper to support a friend in need. For all of you: Thank you for everything you have done to make this campus a more just, affirming, supportive and empowering place.

You are more than just my anecdotes; you are the protagonists of your own stories. Your experiences and lessons do not end here. You will continue to face challenges and celebrations — some new, some you thought were long over. Many people will say that after graduation, we all come out equal with our Georgetown diplomas in hand. These people are wrong.

Not everyone’s annual $60,000 bought the same knowledge or skills or experience. I therefore encourage each of you to make the most of your unique Georgetown experiences — the meaningful friendships you’ve fostered, the challenges you’ve overcome, the skills you’ve developed, the knowledge you’ve gained.

Let these inspire your future work and help you in empowering others and spreading justice. I am so proud of everything you have already accomplished, and I can’t wait to see where your futures take you.

J. Capecchi is a senior in the College.

16 Comments

  1. This is literally the best viewpoint I have ever read in The Hoya.

  2. best article I’ve read from the Hoya & exactly how I feel as a rising senior. Thanks kid.

  3. Thank you for this, J. Finally, a viewpoint that’s real and relatable to those of us who are atypical Hoyas.

  4. Cristina says:

    Well said!

  5. So beautifully written–it’s been a trying freshmen year, but this is exactly the kind of wisdom and perspective I hope to have gained by the time I graduate in three years.

  6. Evelyn Smith says:

    Beautiful piece, J. Thank you.

  7. Beautiful piece, J. I remember meeting you at the LGBT social as a first-year. Proud of the person you’ve become. Keep on rockin!

  8. I don’t know you but I wish I had met you before you were leaving Georgetown because I completely identify with this! So well-articulated. You are phenomenal. Good luck to you in the future!

  9. Well done.

  10. Hoya2013 says:

    This is simply the most well-written piece I have ever read in the Hoya. Thank you to the author for your compassion and for sharing your intellect in such a moving piece.

  11. This was such a well written piece that contained so many of the emotions I felt when leaving Georgetown but never had the courage to express. Bravo on having found that courage at this early juncture and using it to affirm those who deserve that affirmation the most.

  12. Bravo all around, and around, and around

  13. J. Thanks for finding the words and the courage to express what I always felt as a student at Georgetown several years ago. Congrats on making it to graduation and Hoya Saxa!

  14. Hoya2010 says:

    I graduated in 2010 and couldn’t believe the sheer number of my peers who didn’t feel comfortable expressing their true sexual or gender identities until long after they had safely left the Hilltop behind. I would hope the campus is more tolerant to these kinds of discussions now, but with articulate, brave, intelligent viewpoints being shared by students like the author, I know it’s at least off to a good start.

  15. Another2010grad says:

    I took a leave of absence to care for a family member. I studied every day so I could rejoin my language classes at the right stage, but it turned out I didn’t know how to advocate for myself, and convince them to let me test into the next class. Needed to graduate on time, so I ended up with a major I don’t particularly care about. Oh well.

  16. Lovely O. says:

    This was a very well written piece and I wish I could have met you and get to hear more from your point of view. As an incoming freshman, I can only hope that I will come out of Georgetown looking back on my experience with such wisdom and be able to feel like I contributed to making it a better place and helped resolve some of the issues you spoke on.

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