Ite, inflammate omnia — go forth and set the world on fire. An often-heard phrase at a Jesuit school, these are the words St. Ignatius of Loyola used to encourage the Jesuits in their global mission, and the same that have been at the heart of my interactions at Georgetown. The students of our graduating class are no strangers to this fire. I have witnessed it in our passion for learning and care of others over the course of my three years on the Hilltop.
I first encountered this dedication when I arrived at Georgetown as an anxious sophomore transfer student. I was nervous mostly because I was a year behind my classmates in terms of getting familiar with the campus, classes and friends. Despite this concern, I was still excited to begin my studies and my first class for my international health major, “International Health Promotion.” I was not aware that the course predominantly comprised juniors, and when the professor began by asking us to form groups for a project to be completed throughout the semester, I remember slumping into my seat and desperately scanning the faces in the class to find someone to turn to.
What happened next took me by surprise. Some students in the class began calling out, “We want the transfer!” and tried pulling me into their groups. It was not what I had expected at all, and it made me realize I had made the right choice in transferring to Georgetown and the right choice in my program. The fire that Ignatius called for had been kindled.
That feeling has never left me. Never before had I been so warmly welcomed into a community as I have to the School of Nursing and Health Studies, as well as the greater Georgetown University body.
Georgetown is certainly a prestigious school and deeply rooted in history that is inspirational in itself. The university is beautiful, from the weathered stone steps of Healy Hall to archways of White-Gravenor Hall, and it is placed in an exciting city rich with opportunities. Despite these qualities, perhaps the most notable character of the school is the trait of humility among the students on campus. Maybe it comes with the mission of the university — and particularly the NHS — but my classmates have been some of the most selfless, caring, honest and devoted people I am grateful to know.
Students at Georgetown bear impressive experiences and intimidating skills, but they are not flaunted. They are taken seriously, never short of a chance to learn. Within the NHS, students have spent countless hours in clinical rotations, performed research in some of the world’s most remote regions, been published in journals, pulled arguably more all-nighters than anyone else and served the communities in the greater Washington, D.C. area through internships and volunteerism. Georgetown students should be proud of their accomplishments, yet their modesty and authentic interest in others makes them stand out from the rest.
I am grateful for many aspects of my term at Georgetown, but I am most appreciative of the students who have answered the call of Ignatius to share their fire. They have provided support and perspective in the most challenging of times and have always encouraged the pursuit of my true interests, whether those in a class titled “Art and Medicine”, on the crew team or in a club for neglected tropical diseases. Students at Georgetown are not afraid to be pushed, and they value and apply their academic knowledge for a practical purpose.
I am saddened to leave these students as I move on to a graduate school environment, especially because I was only able to spend three years with them in a place that presented and acknowledged academic challenges I sorely wanted. Nevertheless, I do know, as trite as it may sound, they will do great things, whether it is going on to graduate school, into research, consulting, nursing or any other professional position with the same fire shared in and out of the classroom.
Georgetown has provided an education encompassing the principle of cura personalis — care for the whole, unique person — on a global, national, community and individual scale. My studies in the NHS have been inherently tied to the well-being of others, and we have been taught how to compassionately address needs through the example of our classmates, professors and staff. Maintain this standard with the same humility and passion that has been shared thus far, and I guarantee it will be noticed.
Nicholas Dellasanta is a senior in the School of Nursing and Health Studies.