In early March, a group of HWS students convened in Washington, D.C. for a weekend exploring the nation’s history and hearing from alums of color about their time at the Colleges and their lives and careers since graduation. Sponsored by the Office of Intercultural Affairs, the trip included stops at the National Portrait Gallery, the Dr. Martin Luther King Memorial and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, as well as the reception with alums.
“It was a perfect opportunity to explore a major city and political hub while connecting with HWS alums who imparted great advice pertaining to our post-graduation plans,” says Shreeya Desai ’21. “I feel that I made deeper connections with my fellow peers and other members of the HWS community that I will value for years to come.
Alums, including Mark Darden ’87, P’17, Algrin Flowers ’91, Ludwig Gaines ’88, Joseph Goings ’01, Stacy Okoro ’05, Brian Sales ’89 and Kelly Wynn ’83, shared “the experiences they had on campus…gave advice to the students on things to look out for after graduation and talked about what they do now,” says Associate Director of Intercultural Affairs Renée Grant, who planned the trip. “It was empowering for our students to hear from the alums that they aren’t alone; that students before them have had similar feelings and made it past and are better for it…[that] every experience that they’re having, the good and the bad, makes you who you are.”
Desai hoped to “supplement my education from HWS with real world applications from alums…and how they continued to lead lives of consequence after graduation,” she says, as well as explore the history the nation’s capital has to offer.
For Desai and Bellaide Lopez ’23, one of the trip’s highlights was the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which opened in 2016.
“The curators did an amazing job of including artifacts from the past and present that showed how our nation was truly built and developed, at the horrifying expense of others,” says Desai.
“I know the history and culture but I wanted to able to see it,” Lopez says, “because for me there is a difference in learning through books and actually seeing the things that happened.”
The trip was funded in part by the Afro Latino Alumni and Alumnae Association, the Diversity Equity and Inclusion Task Force, and the Young Memorial Trust Fund.