Alumni Memories

Kogan Plaza Fall GW CCAS Alumni Reflection
From life-long friendships to life-changing moments, Columbian College alumni shared a wealth of special experiences. Read their reflections on their favorite GW memories.
June 14, 2017

Pam Lawrence“The GW experience has so many layers that a collage of memories is what makes GW so very, very special to me: Professor French and those fabulous internships; Professor Morgan imparting the understanding that Supreme Court cases are not really about the subjects but about the long-term precedents; the friends I made who are still my friends today; and experiencing history by walking through the [Capitol Hill] Rotunda while a president was lying-in-state and attending the State of the Union Address.”

— Pam Lawrence, BA ’76, Political Science
Chair, Board of Directors, Care Dimensions
Senior Vice President for Strategy and Administration, North Shore Medical Center (Retired)
Member, National Council for Arts and Sciences


Scott Dantley“I have two wonderful memories of my educational journey: pledging Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity—the same fraternity as Dr. Martin Luther King—and the unique experience of being taught by great minds such as Professor Theodore Peter Perros. In his History of Chemistry class, Professor Perros highlighted the contributions of diverse alchemists and scientists from different cultures who made meaningful impacts in the sciences. As an African American student matriculating in chemistry, this was a positive experience that made a lasting impression on me.”

— Scott Jackson Dantley, BS ’92, Chemistry
Educational Consultant in Quality Assurance, Assessment and Accreditation

Elissa Wernick“My time at GW was undoubtedly one of the most pleasurable and formative periods of my life. Not only did I immensely enjoy living in Washington D.C., but the diversity of the campus and the surrounding city exposed me to a variety of cultures and people who I otherwise would have never met. I made my closest and most enduring friendships while at school—the vast majority of which are still actively involved in my life on a daily basis.”

— Elissa Wernick, BA ’85, Psychology
Interior Designer, Owner’s Advocate, Licensed Podiatrist and Foot Surgeon
Member, National Council for Arts and Sciences


Paul Kendrick"I lived in a university theme house–The George Washington Williams House of African American History and Culture. There we learned history and shared it with fellow students. I remember a fall day when we made our way down U Street studying everything from the African American Civil War Memorial and Museum to Ben's Chili Bowl. Then we welcomed speakers to the house, including a D.C. civil rights hero and a historian on black Civil War soldiers.  We grew into the leaders we are today through the bond of creating this place that my friend Stephan Harris envisioned—where students could draw on the past to be inspired to shape the future.”

— Paul Kendrick, BA ’05, MPA ’07, American Studies
Former White House Climate and Domestic Director, Office of Presidential Personnel

Beth Furtwangler"To fulfill a writing requirement my sophomore year, I found myself enrolled in an 8 a.m. introductory-level journalism course taught by Larry Lipman. I walked in with minimal interest in journalism, but by the end of the semester I was hooked! Professor Lipman brought his real-world experience into the classroom, making reporting accessible and engaging. It was one of my most challenging classes at GW, but it was indisputably the most rewarding. I ended up declaring journalism as my minor and, while at GW, interned at news organizations including NPR and USA Today.”

Beth Furtwangler, BA ’08, Communications
Internal Communications Manager, National Geographic


Lois Alperstein"One of my favorite GW memories was meeting my Thurston Hall RA, Jerry Bloom. His experience with college life and life in general was very helpful to me. Coming from a small town in central New Jersey, Washington, D.C., was really the big city. I fell madly in love with the city and university life. Another student from Jersey fell in love with me and literally wanted to sweep me off my feet and elope. Jerry convinced me that waiting until after graduation was the appropriate way to handle this romance. How right he was! Jerry taught me important life lessons and today we have been reunited as members of Columbian College’s National Council for Arts and Sciences. More than 40 years after graduating, we are serving the university as a way to give back. ”

Lois Alperstein, BA ’77, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology
Proprietor, Country Shoppes of Culpeper
Member, National Council for Arts and Sciences


Jason Sterlacci“The first day of my senior year, one of my roommates and I decided to get some groceries for our room in Ivory Tower. We headed to the Safeway at the Watergate. As we rode the escalator down, I saw an older gentleman going up. His face was familiar but I couldn’t quite place it. I thought he might have been a professor. He noticed that I was staring, so I nodded and said “Sup?” He smiled awkwardly and shook his head—while my roommate called me an idiot for trying to be funny around [former senator and presidential candidate] Bob Dole! That story reminds of how lucky I was to be in the middle of D.C. You never knew who you'd see!”

— Jason Sterlacci, BA ’06, Psychology
Middle School English Teacher, Union Township Public Schools


Melissa Maxman“I am proud to have been one of the founding members of the GW Troubadours in 1981. At the time, a cappella groups were not as common as they are today. Our small band worked tirelessly, rehearsing for hours every week. These singers are still some of my best friends. Our trip to Portugal, where we performed at dozens of venues and traveled by bus, was a highlight of my college experience. Today, 36 years later, the Troubs are still going strong and are all student run!”

— Melissa Maxman, BA ’84, Music
Managing Partner, Cohen & Gresser LLP
Chair, National Council for Arts and Sciences

Lincoln Mondy“My freshman year coincided with the culmination of the 2012 presidential election. On election night, my friends and I went to the GW Democrats watch party in the Marvin Center. When the race was called and President Obama won reelection, much of the room started running out the doors and heading for the White House. I don’t think I’ve ever run that fast! We met up with hundreds of people hugging and celebrating. The crowd blasted music, shouted chants and celebrated through the night. That is a day I’ll tell my kids about.”

— Lincoln Mondy, BA ’16, Political Science
Associate Account Executive, BerlinRosen

Priya Dhanani“The best part of my GW experience was my cohort. After a stressful week of papers, assignments, exams and all-nighters, we would all head to Lindy’s Red Lion for cheap drinks, bar food and an outdoor patio. That became our space to debate random topics, vent about class assignments, laugh at crude jokes and, most importantly, take a break. In those moments, we somehow mitigated the pressure of work, school and life, and we were reminded to not take ourselves too seriously. It was a significant part of how I survived grad school!”

— Priya Dhanani, MA ’14, Sociology
Technical Monitoring and Evaluation Manager, Together for Girls


Debbie WheelerMy telecommunications degree classes required us to complete research at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) headquarters—my introduction to FCC regulations. I was later hired to be the agency’s first professional telecommunications manager, one of the most satisfying and busiest jobs of my career. I recommended GW to my son who immediately felt that it was the right school for him. After completing his undergraduate degree at Columbian College, he found two internship jobs through GW’s career network, which led to his present position as a web developer at the U.S. Government Accounting Office.”

— Debbie Wheeler, MS ’84, Telecommunications Operations
Telecommunications Analyst, Department of Justice


Lauren Epstein“When I was a freshman in 2000, I took Introduction to Physics with Professor Gerard Garino. I failed the first exam; I had never failed anything in my life! Professor Garino offered to tutor me and other students in the class if we showed up in his office in Corcoran Hall every morning at 8 a.m. I dutifully reported every morning and met my future husband, Andy Wurtzel, during those sessions. Through the years, we have stayed in touch with Professor Garino and he even came to our wedding in 2007."

— Lauren Epstein, BS ’03, Biology
Physician, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention