The director of the Multicultural Student Services Center led graduates in one last community-building activity Thursday.
Look at someone sitting nearby, Michael Tapscott instructed the audience, and ask each other, “What’s cookin’, good lookin’?”
The exercise elicited some laughs and cheers from graduating students, but its purpose fell in line with a message Tapscott underlined throughout his remarks: Stay in touch.
His speech spanned the 10 commandments Tapscott said are critical for those moving on from GW to bear in mind, charging students to give back to the community and “never stop learning how to be a better human.” But most crucial, Tapscott said, is for graduating students to remember to celebrate the connections and friendships they built at GW.
“Take a moment. Look at all these handsome and beautiful faces all around you,” he said. “I want you to remember them and cherish them and work hard to stay connected to them.”
The emphasis on sustaining the community wove throughout the multicultural students celebration. Eight student speakers addressed the crowd, each representing different multicultural groups on campus and stressing the home they found inside the doors of the MSSC.
Among them was Sarah Jackson, president of the Native American Student Association, who spoke about the growth of her student organization following its inception two years ago. It is a success, Jackson said, that found its roots in the guidance it received from the MSSC.
Ali Lozano, a student coordinator for the LGBT Resource Center, opened up about her coming-out experience and said at first, she felt “very isolated.” But that feeling was assuaged when Lozano stepped into the resource center, where she found a home that was, “quite honestly, the first moment I didn’t feel like I needed to hide.”
“My personal journey was a difficult one, and I’m sure it would have been harder without all of the support I received in this community.”
That community spurred her desire to work in LGBT advocacy, Lozano said, praising the merger of the LGBT Resource Center and the MSSC offices into one building this year.
Alix Montes, speaking on behalf of the black student community, wrapped up the student speakers by pushing his fellow graduates to use the wisdom they gained through the MSSC. He spoke of his own “crash course in leadership,” one that saw Montes transform from a student-athlete to a student heavily involved with the School of Business and various campus organizations. A transformative summer, Montes said, led out of his comfort zone and switched his thinking “from ‘why’ to ‘why not.’ ”
The community that the graduates grew for themselves at GW, Montes told his audience, will be their biggest support heading into the next chapter of their lives.
“Our experiences and life lessons – that’s what sets us apart. And that’s what puts us a step ahead of the rest,” Montes said. “Fellow graduates, the world is yours. The world is ours.”