This summer, 24 newly-appointed Colonial Cabinet members will give incoming freshmen and transfer students their first taste of GW during five Colonial Inauguration sessions.
“We look for GW students who are good leaders, who are willing to work hard, who have a passion for GW and who want to give back to the school,” said Student Activities Center Assistant Director Laura Zylka, who oversees the orientation sessions.
Cabinet members guide incoming freshmen and their families through what is often their first three days as part of the GW community.
Zylka said this summer’s CI will be the same as previous years, but she said programming for Mount Vernon College – an all-women’s institution which will be incorporated into the University by June 1999 – is still under consideration.
Whatever is decided, Cabinet members at both campuses will share their insights and experiences with incoming students. Cabinet member Eric Douglas, a freshman, said he plans to show new students GW is a safe school with great academics and sports programs.
Junior Jonathan Nurse, a recently-inaugurated Cabinet member, said he knows firsthand the difficulties of adjusting to a new city – experience he said he hopes to share with freshmen.
“My freshman year was really traumatic,” Nurse said. “Coming from a small town, I was not prepared socially or academically to be dropped in the middle of Washington.”
“If you are an urban-type student or you like rural areas, GW is perfect, because it has a little of both. You are in close proximity to both Virginia and Maryland,” Douglas added.
Eddie Lara, a sophomore, said he wants to stress the importance of taking advantage of the opportunities in the nation’s capital.
“There is not only a lot in the social respect, but there are opportunities for internships, work and networking,” he said. Last year, Lara had the opportunity to dabble in the political arena as an intern for Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.).
Cabinet members said they also hope to stress the importance of balancing the excitement of living in Washington with the academic pressures of GW.
“The city of Washington has a lot to offer, as far as museums and historical stuff. But you have to know that academics are a priority above everything else,” Douglas said. “It will be a tough transition and it is something you have to get used to.”
The most significant aspect of this year’s Cabinet is its diversity, Zylka said. The group boasts varied racial, ethnic and geographic roots, she said.
“We look for diversity so the Cabinet can truly represent the population of GW,” Zylka said. “That’s what GW is all about.”
Douglas, who is both African American and Caucasian and traces his roots to Vietnam, said he wants to emphasize diversity as one of GW’s strongest attributes.
Others Cabinet members explained, however, diversity is more than just ethnic background.
“I think I provide diversity by not only being an African-American male, but also by my experiences at GW,” said Nurse, a second-generation West Indian. “The Cabinet is very representative of GW’s population.”
Nurse said students of all backgrounds and interests will find a spot at GW.
“You will find a niche for yourself at GW. Be true to yourself more than anything else,” he said.