King spends Commencement with first lady Obama

Like most seniors getting their diplomas over the weekend, Travis King was excited for University-wide Commencement Ceremony on Sunday, the final event of his GW career. King’s experience on Sunday was a little different than that of most seniors, however. While his classmates jockeyed for seats in the early morning hours on Sunday, King already had his spot reserved for commencement: on stage, with first lady Michelle Obama.

King, who averaged 2.8 points and one assist per game for the Colonials this past season, was chosen along with three other seniors to sit on stage with the first lady in recognition of his service to the Washington, D.C. community. In addition to being a point guard for the Colonials, King gives haircuts at Miriam’s Kitchen, an organization near campus that provides services to the district’s homeless. He said the chance to be on stage with the first lady was an incredible opportunity, calling it “a once in a lifetime experience.”

The former Colonial guard, who said he was chosen for the honor out of the entire student body and not as a result of an application process, also said cutting hair was something he enjoyed doing and planned to continue after he leaves Foggy Bottom. King also said working as a barber was something he had been doing well before the first lady set her 100,000 service-hour challenge before the GW community.

“When I was doing the community service work, I wasn’t doing it to be recognized,” King said. “The community service work was definitely way before they announced the challenge. When I was doing it, I was just doing it out of the kindness of my heart.”

The former point guard also said working as a barber for the homeless was an experience that altered the way he sees the homeless community in the District, as well as how he sees his own life.

“The cutting hair part was definitely great. I was able to connect with a lot of people at the homeless shelter. It definitely changed my perspective on how I view homelessness,” King said. “It definitely helped me become a better person and it made me more thankful.”

King, who is technically a redshirt junior after a knee injury kept him out of what would have been his sophomore season, will play out his final year of NCAA eligibility next year at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County while beginning work on a master’s degree in sociology. Standing on stage with the first lady, King said, is an honor unlike anything he has experienced during his time in Foggy Bottom.

“I have no regrets about coming to GW, my GW experience has been great. For me to leave the way I’m leaving, I really can’t explain it.” King said. “It’s a blessing.”

For King, who helped GW win its last Atlantic 10 championship in 2007, the opportunity to end his career on a high note after opening it with a conference championship is especially sweet.

“It’s definitely a great feeling,” King said. “My freshman year we won the A-10 championship, so now the same way that I came in, I’m leaving with a great experience.”

Even after winning an A-10 crown and playing in an NCAA Tournament, King said sitting on stage with the first lady is the best experience in his four years at GW.

“Being on the stage with the first lady, it’s second to none,” King said. “Winning a championship was great, but at the same time, being on the same stage with the first lady of the United States, that’s in a category of its own.”

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