Inside Georgetown: Moving from the Hilltop to the Hill

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Almost every day, we’re told to slow down. People say that we have our “entire lives ahead of us,” but why should that be an excuse to take a break at this time of our lives? Personally, I’m motivated by change and the influence I know I can have on the world.

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Although difficult to explain, directing the Federal Relations Office in GUSA has provided me the opportunity to accomplish this objective and begin leaving my footprint today. Unlike the rest of GUSA, our work is largely done beyond Georgetown’s walls. Frequently, we describe ourselves as breaking the “Georgetown bubble.” By engaging with the DC community and the national government in such a personal way, the rest of the members of Federal Relations and I have begun to break away from the usual day-to-day routine that characterizes a typical college student. If fact, we spend more time off-campus these days than we do on-campus. We want to make it clear to each individual we meet that Georgetown students are active beyond their walls. It’s one of the main reasons we testify at hearings, lead DC Statehood working groups, bring constituents to Capitol Hill for Higher Education and Mental Health advocacy work, and engage with the low-income Wards in DC.

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Each person within Federal Relations is incredible. I have been blown away by the passion and dedication I have seen. What’s unique about us is that each person has his or her own initiatives and areas of expertise – there is not a single person who sits around aimlessly. Whether starting the studentleadershipalliance.org to connect institutions from across the country for a central advocacy purpose, working to start a Campus Kitchen at Georgetown, managing alumni relations, or planning a variety of networking and career opportunities for the fall, the Google Calendar our office swears by is jam packed. Best of all, each of us can confidently say that we are working to influence change in DC and the country now.

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However, I had no idea it would blossom this quickly. When building GUSA’s Federal Relations Office from the ground up, I was terrified. I was confident it would be a success since we are a school filled with students known for their strong political opinions, but I was not sure how long the path to get there would be. That’s what has really blown me away. Once established, not a minute was wasted, and I even find myself racing to keep up with all the amazing work being done. In my opinion, a great deal of our success up to this point is because we view ourselves as a family. Meetings are fun because they’re with some of my best friends, friends I would have never had if this opportunity did not come my way. I admire and look up to everyone in Federal Relations more than they know and can’t wait for all the events and advocacy days we have lined up for the fall.

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As long as the national and local government runs, we continue to sprint. This summer has been filled with Federal Relations work, and I can confidently say that all of us would not want it any other way. Keep your eyes and ears open for all our fall events that will allow you to break away from your typical Georgetown routine.

 

Like us on Facebook (GUSA Federal Relations Office) to stay informed about upcoming events or email kj407@georgetown.edu if interested in helping our advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill this fall.

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This post was written by Kotryna Jukneviciute (COL’18), GUSA Director of Federal & DC Relations, majoring in Government with an International Relations focus, pursuing Arabic Studies and European Studies certificates. Have stories you would like to share with the next freshman class? E-mail us at communications.gusa@gmail.com.

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Inside Georgetown: Hoyas Across America—How Georgetown Helped Me Go on the Adventure of a Lifetime

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Ever sat around, at some particularly stressful time in your life, maybe during finals, and thought, “what if I could just say, ‘screw it, let me get in my car and just drive out of here?’” Over the last few years, I’ve had that thought increasingly often. Life at Georgetown can be rough, so why can’t I just pack my bags and run? My roommate and I periodically batted the idea around as I wishfully dreamed of finally seeing the American West, making it to the beaches of California, the views of the Grand Canyon, or the mountains of Yellowstone.

In less than one month, we took a pipe dream and turned it into a reality. Between the two of us, we found six fellow Hoyas who would host us along the way and significantly reduce the expense we had to put in for our trip. It already took pretty much my life savings to cover my portion of the trip, so these Hoyas were particularly helpful in making it happen. And I learned in the process just how friendly they can be.

roey1In many cases, we stayed with friends of my roommate, and I was almost a complete stranger. On all of those occasions, I was still welcomed immediately, treated like family, and regarded as a friend. This trip helped me turn acquaintances into friends and turn existing friends into even closer ones. The bond created by hospitality is a remarkable one, as simply being a guest in someone’s home, even for a night, can turn mere acquaintances into long-term friends. I will be forever grateful to those friends for helping us not only making this trip possible, but much more enjoyable and entertaining than it would have been had we stayed in a hotel or with strangers on Airbnb.

As for the trip itself, I would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone. For me, it was the adventure of a lifetime. We spent nearly three weeks driving nine thousand miles, traversing mountains, deserts, and bayous, finding out more about America than many will in their whole lives. We stumbled upon so many unexpected gems, whether it Joe’s Bar-B-Que, a Kansas City gas station that hosted the best BBQ I have ever eaten, or the small town of Randolph, Nebraska, that treated us as two of their own when our car broke down there. People are so quick to treat strangers with comfort and respect (except for those two guys in a pickup truck in Mississippi who intimidated and racially profiled my roommate, who is of Indian descent.)

IMG_2885.JPGRegardless, this trip allowed me to partake in some uniquely American experiences. What other country would have a museum dedicated to the potato that sells potato ice cream, allows you to pose with a giant fake potato, and even provides free “taters for out-of-staters?” Probably no other place on Earth has highway billboards that read “your kingdom awaits” while advertising casinos. And nowhere else, I guarantee it, can you enjoy the fresh, delicious glory that is an “In-N-Out Burger.” (I had it for the first time on my trip. It was life-altering.)

I have been forever shaped by all the wonderful moments on my trip. Whether I was basking in the glow of the sunshine while walking on Hollywood Boulevard, or sitting in traffic waiting for bison to cross the road in Yellowstone, I enjoyed virtually every moment of my three-week journey across the United States. This trip has been a dream come true. And to think, without the friends I’ve made here at Georgetown, I might not have been able to follow that dream.

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This post was written by Roey Hadar (SFS ’17), GUSA Newsletter Editor and Polling Director, majoring in International Politics. Have stories you would like to share with the next freshman class? E-mail us at communications.gusa@gmail.com.

Inside Georgetown: Finding my Georgetown Family in GUSA

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I was accepted to Georgetown by the skin of my teeth. After being waitlisted, extended waitlisted, and then given spring admittance, it was a quite a miracle that I received a call telling me I could come for the fall semester just forty-eight hours before classes started. Needless to say, I arrived on campus frazzled and thinking I did not belong. I did not think I was not smart enough, as accomplished as much as my classmates, and besides, who would want to be friends with a transfer student?

At CAB fair the first weekend, I joined a few clubs that I thought would enhance my resume–not ones that I thought would be fun. While I met some nice people the first semester, I did not have a set social group or felt as though I had made deep connections on campus. I called my mom crying almost every day and spent too many weekend nights watching Gilmore Girls alone in my bed.

When second semester rolled around, the talk on campus revolved around GUSA elections. I decided to join a campaign, and little did I know GUSA was going to change my Georgetown experience.

Through the campaign I met like-minded people who I clicked with immediately. I loved being part of a focused and determined group of students. From door knocking after dinner to tabling every night, I learned so much about campus life and Georgetown finally began to feel like a home.

One night shortly after the campaign ended, a friend I had made suggested I run for the Senate in the fall.

“Me?!” I responded. “I’m a transfer student, I can’t. I don’t know anything.”

When transferring to Georgetown, it never crossed my mind that I could be that involved or even hold a leadership position on campus. I always thought I would sit on the sidelines with my extracurricular activities. After all, I was a waitlist student; I barely belonged on campus. However, several of my GUSA friends continued to encourage me to run the Senate so I did, and it was one of the best decisions I made. I learned about different policy areas and met so many students who had similar goals and wanted the best for Georgetown. Through the Senate, I finally felt like I was contributing to the Georgetown community.

Looking back on how my experience on campus changed, I realize that the catalyst in my life was having my fellow Hoyas to believe me. The friends I have in GUSA are the type of people who truly want the best for me and will support me with all my endeavors both on and off campus. Whether I need advice on my future, help with homework, or a friend to get Chipotle with, I know I can count on my GUSA friends to be there for me in any capacity. We are a family and we take care of each other.

Many of the good things that have happened to me have been a result of GUSA. From making new friends, learning about on campus opportunities, finding internships, and working for a great cause, I owe it to my involvement in GUSA: it has defined my Georgetown experience.

Though student government may not seem right for everyone, I can promise anyone that GUSA can provide an immediate home for any student on campus. Getting involved in such a public group on campus can be scary and intimidating for a new student, but I recommend that anyone who is even slightly interested should give it a try. Regardless if it is running for Senate, joining a policy team, or working on a presidential campaign, I guarantee that you will meet amazing people who will be your best friends and mentors.

I cannot imagine my life at Georgetown without the relationships I formed through GUSA and I hope that all of you new students find your home at Georgetown come the fall semester.

samThis post was written by Samantha Granville (COL ’17), GUSA Deputy Chief of Staff, majoring in Government. Have stories you would like to share with the next freshman class? E-mail us at communications.gusa@gmail.com.

Inside Georgetown: Follow Your Heart On The Hilltop

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I never touched student government with a ten-foot pole in high school and had no desire to change that as an incoming freshman. Flash forward three years later: I am the GUSA Chief of Staff responsible for managing a team of over 200 dedicated and passionate Hoyas. That’s not the only 180 degree turn I’ve taken on the Hilltop. So what changed?

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Alex (far left) during a Step Team performance

The best advice I can give is the simple phrase: Let your heart set the course, and your mind will get you there. Do not be afraid of trying new activities, letting go of old hobbies, or failing. Freshman and Sophomore year I picked up and dropped a number of activities. I realized that the concert choir was not for me after a semester and instead joined my L&B pre-orientation friend, Selena, for a “Step” team rehearsal (which I had zero idea even existed as a dance form). I let go of an old hobby and started a new adventure where I ended up teaching step to fourth graders while abroad in South Africa. Definitely not what I was expecting to do with my time on the Hilltop!

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Alex & fellow members of the GUSA Executive

January of Freshman year, I was asked to join a GUSA Executive campaign. Again, I was clueless to what GUSA actually did, but the campaign manager had been a great mentor during my rocky first semester and so I said yes. Over the month long journey, I learned about so many hurdles facing students and student organizations on campus such as a lack of access to space, spending, speech, and the marginalization of some communities on campus. I also learned about the great potential we possess as a student body when we unite to advocate for change. Unfortunately, our tiny campaign was crushed and the following year I helped lead another failed, albeit far larger, campaign. Despite the losses, during those two years I met inspiring leaders, mentors, and friends. I learned about new perspectives and engaged with communities I never had connected to before. I found a passion in finding solutions for student organizations in order to give back to the undergraduate community that had given me so much.

When you arrive on the Hilltop in August, you’ll be enthusiastically greeted by our Hoya family and barraged by clubs and organizations eager for you to join them. Take a breath, figure out what YOU want to do (not just what seems like you should do), and don’t be afraid to try new things, drop what isn’t right for you, and at times fail. As I watched some of my best friends graduate this past week, I can personally attest that your time on the Hilltop will go by in a blink of an eye. So make the most of it! Follow your heart, find your passions, and use your talents to serve as Hoyas for others. If you leave Georgetown with no regrets, you will know that you fully unlocked your unique potential on the Hilltop.

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This post was written by Alexander Bobroske (SFS ’17), GUSA Chief of Staff. Have stories you would like to share with the next freshman class? E-mail us at communications.gusa@gmail.com.