Class of 2024 Share GW Memories

May 8, 2024
A collage showing images of two women students smiling and one student in the center in a basketball uniform

From left, seniors Yvonne Liccione, James Bishop IV and Cammie Hussey are among the CCAS Class of 2024.

From internships and classroom experiences to forging lifelong friendships and attending one-of-a-kind events, the CCAS Class of 2024 recalled their fondest GW memories as they prepared to receive their degrees at Commencement on the National Mall on May 19. 

Courtney Middleton

Courtney Middleton, MA Art History

“When you’re a graduate student in GW’s art history program, you have the opportunity to present your research at an annual symposium in partnership with American University. Your presentation topic is typically what you’ve chosen to write about in your qualifying paper—our version of a master’s thesis—which you submit to the department in the form of an abstract and the faculty elects you for the symposium. I really hoped I wouldn’t be chosen because 1) I have a fear of public speaking and 2) my research was not fully developed and I didn’t feel good about putting together a presentation on something that was unfinished. However, I was—and it ended up being a great experience that allowed me to overcome a fear, bond with my peers, feel confident and get valuable feedback on my work. Most memorably, it opened up new opportunities that I hadn’t previously considered to advance my research and sparked relationships with people I likely would not have met if I did not participate.”

Nicholas Anastácio sitting on a stage lit with purple lights

Nicholas Anastácio, BS Data Science, BA Political Communication

“From getting the chance to intern at major news organizations like CNN and NBC News to shaking the speaker of the House’s hand during a random tour of the U.S. Capitol, there are just too many memories to choose from when looking back at my time at GW. But one from junior year stands out. I was interning at NBC News’ Political Unit, covering politics and gathering research ahead of the 2024 elections. After my shifts on Wednesdays, I would hop on the Metro to go to my night class at the School of Media and Public Affairs, getting the unique opportunity to hear from a guest speaker actively working in political campaigning in Oren Shur’s Political Campaign Communication class. Only at GW could you cover politics in the morning and hear from political professionals at night.”

Cammie Hussey

Cammie Hussey, BA Political Science, Minor in Theater

“I found a home in GW’s student theater. Over the past few years, I have racked up countless amazing moments with this group, but the experience I cherish most was when I was able to put on my own show. Sure, I remember the Saturday night when every seat was filled, some people even sitting on the floor. But the most special performance was our Friday late-night show. Four people came. I’m not exaggerating, four. But this talented, fantastic group took it as an opportunity to play. I couldn’t feel my cheeks by the end because I was smiling so hard. I hope those four people were as entertained as I was. I had more fun at the performance than any other, and I will remember it years from now. GW’s student theater taught me many lessons, but more importantly, it introduced me to lifelong friends.”

James Bishop IV standing in a uniform playing on a basketball court

James Bishop IV, BA Sociology

“GW has been my home for the past four years, and I’ve had a really great time here. I’ve loved the crowds we’ve been able to play in front of [as a member of the men’s basketball team] and everything that GW stands for. It’s bittersweet having walked off the Smith Center court for the final time, but I know our basketball program is on the rise, especially with the community we’ve created on and off campus. Everyone has shown me so much love during my career, and I’m forever thankful for all the support given to me and my teammates. Thank you to George’s Army, our fans, alumni and donors for making these four years incredibly special to me and my family. I can’t wait to come back and help support our university and our team moving forward!”

Yvonne Liccione sitting outside surrounded by trees

Yvonne Liccione, BA Political Communication

“SMPA is by far my favorite thing about GW. It’s the program that brought me here, and it’s the place I’ve felt most at home on campus throughout my time here. My favorite memories involve joking around in class, visiting office hours and the connections it’s led to with my peers and professors. I’ve made some of my best friends at GW while lobbying Professors David Karpf and Peter Loge to start a podcast or swapping stories at Professor Steve Roberts happy hour. I’ll miss reading a breaking news headline and running to SMPA to hear everyone’s take on it.”

Margarita Kyza-Karavioti in front of a red brick building

Margarita Kyza-Karavioti, BS Biological Sciences

“My most cherished memories at GW center on spending time with friends and individuals with whom I feel completely comfortable. Whether it’s walking around Georgetown and the waterfront or simply hanging out watching movies, much of my time is spent in the company of my roommates. One standout memory that holds a special place in my heart is our spontaneous tanning session at the Washington Monument back in 2023. Not only is this a classic GW experience, given our proximity to iconic landmarks, but it deepened our bond. Sharing a picnic while basking in the sun, filled with laughter and joy, brought us even closer together.”

Emily Linder sitting on stone steps outside on a sunny day

Emily Linder, BA Communication and Speech Hearing and Language Science, Minor in Organizational Science

“Working with GW-TV has been a great opportunity. It was so rewarding to be able to work in a professional TV studio with people who made that experience even better. Also, working with GW Comedy Nights allowed me to practice comedy with such a talented and encouraging group of my peers. Being involved in the National Student Speech and Hearing Association allowed me to help organize community events around speech therapy and hearing healthcare while having the chance to interact with people I would not have had the chance to otherwise (like ASL interpreters). GW gave me professors who I felt cared about my development as a person and friends who I have made [my] chosen family. When I graduate, I will miss taking walks to Constitution Gardens. All of the critters who live there will always hold a special place in my heart.”

Cole Harriston

Cole Harriston, BA Theater, Minor in Anthropology

“My fondest memories at GW began with performing in a play for the first time at the university during the pandemic. With each subsequent play I took part in, I learned more about myself as an actor and how integral the whole cast and crew is for a production. In my four years, I was cast as characters as varied as a game-show host, God and a Polish film producer. In one virtual play during in my first year, There’s Always the Hudson, I even got to pour Coca-Cola on myself. On camera. Over and over. This past year, with some help from the Theatre Department’s Carl Gudenius and Ann Norton, I interned as an assistant director at the Washington Stage Guild, an experience that expanded my appreciation for D.C.’s vibrant theater scene.

“Being part of Phi Sigma Pi, a national honor fraternity, was another connection I appreciated. Being with other frat brothers exposed me to different events and activities like picnics, retreats and campus games. I’ve learned a lot over four years and have grown so much.”

Maureen Rafter

Maureen Rafter, BA American Studies, Music

“When reflecting on my four years at GW, it’s hard to pick just one moment that I would consider to be my favorite. This school has provided me with lifelong friendships, connections and opportunities. Getting to routinely attend shows at the Kennedy Center, meeting Kerry Washington and interning on Capitol Hill are some of the most memorable moments from my time as a Revolutionary.”

Aleena Fayaz

Aleena Fayaz, BA Political Communication

“As a student at the School of Media and Public Affairs, I’ve tried to take full advantage of the opportunities at my fingertips. From the classes I have taken to the professors who have instructed me to the events we hold on campus, SMPA is the heartbeat of D.C., and I have a front-row seat to the show. Lively campus organizations such as GW-TV and WRGW District Radio have given me the opportunity to flex my media muscles in a fun, recreational setting. As executive producer and anchor of GWeek, I confirmed my love for television production and applied class lessons to tangible packages and editing, ultimately leading to my internship at CNN where I would put those skills to the test in my first newsroom experience. Being an SMPA student means being a lifetime learner, one who listens and leads not just in the classroom but wherever they go. As I depart GW, I will continue to use my platforms to share the lessons I’ve learned at SMPA. Ones of trust, truthfulness, creativity and authenticity.”

Maggie Connolly wearing graduation robes and gown standing by cherry blossom trees at the Tidal Basin

Maggie Connolly, BS Biology, Minor in Psychological and Brain Sciences

“Reflecting on my time at GW, one standout memory is the excitement of uncovering hidden spots throughout Washington, D.C. I was lucky enough to spend this past summer on campus while participating in a research fellowship, and the night of the Fourth of July is one that I will remember forever. As an avid fireworks lover, I wanted to find a great spot to watch the firework display. I knew the National Mall would be packed, so I thought of places I could watch without being swallowed by crowds. The top floor of the 1959 E Street dorm has a great view of the National Mall and D.C. skyline where you can see from the Capitol all the way to the Kennedy Center. Some friends and I brought a picnic up to the rooftop where we were joined by other summer residents cooking out and watching the show. This spot did not disappoint! It was by far the best place in the city to watch the fireworks, and turned out to be one of my favorite Only-at-GW moments! The college experience at GW is unlike any other, and I am extremely grateful for the time I have been able to spend here.”

Yanik Matysiak

Yanik Matysiak, MA Strategic and Media Communication

“As a student and graduate assistant, I experienced GW from a student and staff perspective. Working with the many professors at the School of Media and Public Affairs has always been a joy, but my favorite moment in class was when Professor Del Wilber, whom I assisted as a graduate assistant, brought in Axios publisher Nicholas Johnston. His lecture was inspiring, and learning about Axios and their concept of smart brevity was very interesting. This is one of the many Only-at-GW moments throughout my time in the nation’s capital. Besides interacting with the professors, I always enjoyed getting to know my peers in my program who came from all over the world. Interacting with people from different countries and learning more about their cultures and languages is always fun. I was glad my master’s program was so diverse, and I was able to learn many new things outside the academic curriculum.”

Kayla Laws

Kayla Laws, BA English, Africana Studies; Minor in Journalism & Mass Communications

“One of the most profound and inspirational experiences I had at GW was being selected to participate in the inaugural Sesno Series event, ‘A House Divided: How to Survive our Polarized Times, A Conversation with U.S. Senator Cory Booker.’ This focus group moderated by Frank Luntz, American political pollster and consultant, was made up of GW students from different backgrounds and political views. It was very informative to hear the different perspectives the students had and produced several ‘aha moments’ and eyebrow-raising exchanges, all of which yielded productive food-for-thought takeaways.

“This was a high honor and privilege indeed. Professor Frank Sesno invited me to the dinner after the program where I was able to meet Senator Booker, and sat next to Ms. A’Lelia Bundles, the great granddaughter of Madam C.J. Walker. This was an amazing opportunity for me as president of the GW Chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists and the GW NAACP Chapter. This experience would not have been possible without support from Professor Cheryl W. Thompson, Professor Sesno and SMPA Director Peter Loge. I will cherish this Only-at-GW experience forever, and I am humbled, blessed and grateful for having this opportunity.”

Celeste Noraian

Celeste Noraian, BA Journalism & Mass Communication, Marketing

“Some of my favorite memories at GW have been spent rowing with my teammates on the Potomac River. Watching the sunrise shine through iconic landmarks like the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument are moments I’ll never forget. Being a student journalist in the nation’s capital has allowed me to share impactful stories all across D.C. One of my special moments was creating a documentary about the Seafarer’s Yacht Club on the Anacostia River, the first Black yacht club in the United States. Highlighting stories of resilience in the heart of such an influential city enriched my time at GW beyond measure.”

Alexia Papatsa standing on a stage-like background with lights

Alexia Papatsa, BA Dance

“Dance has been a big part of my GW experience and so my favorite memories are usually with my dance peers. My first semester as a senior was my first time working with a cast of 10 dancers, which was challenging but also extremely fun since we are such a tight community. Midway through our process we figured that we needed to find a way to come together and focus on creating a large-scale choreography. I picked up on a move in the piece where the dancers were supposed to breathe deeply as a cue to start improvising and I asked them to take a collective deep breath every time I needed them to focus. It became our ritual every time before and after they performed and during some stressful times. To this day, it is still my safe space memory. When I dance or when I am feeling under pressure, I just take myself back in that studio with them, I breathe in and out, and keep going.”

Katrina Hauser standing at a podium at the White House with an American flag and White House seal

Katrina Hauser, BA Liberal Arts and Sciences

“Over the past three years in SMPA, I feel very lucky to have met some amazing peers and professors who constantly challenged me to better myself. I always felt very supported by SMPA staff and I truly noticed how much they wanted us to have a worthwhile college experience. One of my favorite memories comes from last semester, when I took a Broadcast News Writing class with a White House correspondent. He took everyone from the class to a White House Press Briefing and gave us a tour of the grounds. It was a really fun and unique experience.”