Class of 2023 Share GW Memories

May 4, 2023

Class of 2023 graduates (from left) Zeniya Cooley, Ellie D’Andria and Zhangzhu Wan.

From fellowships and friendships to performances and protests, Columbian College students recalled their fondest memories as they prepared to receive their 2023 degrees.

Tien Huynh

Tien Huynh, BS Biological Sciences and Cognitive Neuroscience

“There are many moments here at GW that I will cherish forever, but the most memorable of all is the summer of my  junior year when I got to stay at school and conduct research with the funding from the Luther Rice Fellowship. Through this fellowship, I was able to experience what it’s like to be a microbiologist as an undergrad—conducting wet lab research, attending seminars, presenting at conferences and exploring the possible career paths I can pursue with my biology degree. Getting to meet other fellow undergrad researchers and field experts also inspired me to keep pushing the boundaries in research, as well as build friendships and mentorships that will last a lifetime. The opportunities that GW presented during that eventful summer are something that I will always remember and be grateful for.”

Nora Houseman

Nora Houseman, BS Chemistry

“One of my favorite parts of GW is its location in the heart of such a powerful city. I love how students here can see and be a part of all the action this city is known for, and can engage with and uplift the communities and movements around them. That proximity allowed me to take part in protests following the reversal of Roe v. Wade. Being at GW empowered me to use my voice for women’s rights. In a time that felt so dark, being with others who were fighting for the same cause was inspiring and comforting.”

Parker Blackwell

Parker Blackwell, BA Archaeology & Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies

“I love to think back on the eclectic range of my professors, all with fascinating life stories: from a philosophy professor who protested at Tiananmen Square to an international affairs professor who brought guests from Freedom House to our seminars. In this context, it’s no surprise that a final project during my first semester at GW was to live in accordance with a philosophy for a week. I chose Taoism, and although I failed miserably to live in harmony with my restful self, I’ll always remember it as one of the most formative weeks of my life.”

Ellie D’Andria

Ellie D’Andria, BA Education Policy and Child Development (Special Interdisciplinary Major)

“The GW Jazz Orchestra (GWJO) added a great deal of vibrance to my undergraduate experience. That band is consistently filled with excellent musicians and genuine people. It was where I made some of my closest friends. We played at historic D.C. jazz clubs. I sang at Blues Alley, in the exact spot that Eva Cassidy recorded her Live at Blues Alley album in 1996. And there were countless smaller moments of musical magic: when the practice paid off and a note or phrase felt just right, when a soloist surprised everyone with a new idea, when I felt such a deep connection with another member of the band that we played the same thing at the same time without planning it. I love that kind of electricity. I am so thankful for GWJO, and everyone in it.”

Julia Kerrigan

Julia Kerrigan, BA Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences

“One of my favorite memories from my time at GW was a Friday in my freshman year when I hauled myself out of my Thurston bed for a Fridays for Future climate action rally. I was rushing over to make sure I could get a good view of Greta Thunberg, and then I looked backward and saw she was walking with her crew right behind me! It was so cool to see such an influential figure and get the perspective that she really is just a young person, like me.”

Zhangzhu Wan

Zhangzhu Wan, BA Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

“It is hard to pick one favorite memory at GW, as GW has provided me with countless happy memories during my four years here. My favorite memory might be sitting by the wharf at Georgetown, looking at the pink-orange sunset reflected on the Potomac River and the rainbow-light-lit Kennedy Center. I will never forget the feeling of the breeze through my hair, as I sat there with my friend and talked about random things. Every time I walk past the wharf, I am calmed by the glittering river and the clouds in the sky. It is small moments like these with my dear friends that will always make me treasure my time at GW.”

Gabriel Grauvogel

Gabriel Grauvogel, BS Physics

“My favorite memory at GW would probably be my final project for my intermediate lab 1 class. The whole process began on a whim of ‘I want to build a particle accelerator or do a scattering experiment,’ which I thought would be potentially a little too much using what we had lying around the lab. But my research advisor, Dr. Axel Schmidt, was fully behind the idea! My lab partner and I managed to design a vacuum-sealed scattering chamber, develop a Monte Carlo simulation for our setup that utilized parallel processing and obtain real data with a gamma ray-emitting source. All of this was done with stuff at GW! The experience played a large part in solidifying experimental physics as something I want to pursue.”

Zeniya Cooley

Zeniya Cooley, BA Journalism and Mass Communication

“My most memorable moment at GW was the time I attended a Race in America lecture by the activist Raymond Santana. He talked about his distressing experience with coercive police officers and how being branded one of the ‘Central Park Five’ (now the Exonerated Five) impacted him. Mr. Santana shared painful stories, but he also had more joyful moments, where he laughed and his face lit up. I remember thinking that I could almost see the jaunty kid he used to be—the boy who joked with friends and loved to play basketball. I stood up and applauded with tears in my eyes. That night, I learned about grave injustices but also about the beauty and resilience of the human spirit.”