When senior Alex Rood decided to go to GW, she was dead set on reliving her parents’ college experience. Her parents, Stacey and Gregg Rood, graduated from GW in 1984 and met each other on their first day of freshman orientation.
Alex Rood may not have met her future husband at Colonial Inauguration, but she and her parents have shared some of the same experiences between their four years at GW. The three Roods noted the similarities and differences of their time at the University between the most recent graduate and her alumni parents.
All three Roods began their college experience living in Thurston Hall – and the residence hall has barely changed.
Alex Rood said she was assigned to the same triple layout as her mom in Thurston Hall. While the rooms were not on the same floor, they both had the same room number and the set-ups were nearly identical.
Stacey Rood lived in the single alcove part of the residence hall room, so Alex Rood said she took the same spot when she moved into Thurston. Her daughter would have the same private nook she took when she was a freshman, Stacey Rood said.
“I had said to her, ‘This is the best room in all of Thurston because you’re basically getting your own little private room,’” Stacey Rood said.
Neighborhoods around the District
Some of Alex Rood’s favorite neighborhoods to explore in D.C. were Shaw, U Street and Adams Morgan, but those places were not as developed when Gregg and Stacey Rood were students.
When Alex Rood’s parents attended GW, they spent time at places closer to campus, like the National Mall and Georgetown, because other locations were unsafe and too far away. Several of the hotspots Alex Rood visited over the past four years were also not developed while her parents were students, and the Metro was not yet developed to travel far off campus, Stacey and Gregg Rood said.
“Washington back then was very, very different from a safety or security standpoint,” Gregg Rood said. “So pretty much no one really ventured beyond any streets lower than 19th Street because once you got to the White House, anything beyond there were really bad, dangerous neighborhoods.”
Gregg Rood added that many of the bars he frequented, like the 21 Amendment and The Exchange, do not exist anymore. One of the most popular bars that has since closed was a disco called Abbey Road.
“We went to school from ‘80 to ‘84, so it was kind of the tail end of the disco era, but it was absolutely very disco-ish,” Gregg Rood said. “Guys used to wear these white Capezio shoes, which were like almost ballet shoes. If you saw somebody wearing them today, it would look very comical.”
Politics of D.C.
Most students will witness a presidential election during their time in the District. Alex Rood remembers when President Donald Trump was elected to office during her sophomore year.
She said that the night of the election, she was sure Trump would lose and anticipated running to the White House when presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was elected as president. Instead, Alex Rood recalls walking to the White House to witness people lighting candles like a vigil, she said.
“I feel grateful that I was able to be here because it’s something that not everybody gets to say, that they were here to witness this historical election, but it was definitely a somber experience,” Alex Rood said. “That was one of the moments where I felt closest to the campus community.”
Stacey and Gregg Rood were freshmen when Ronald Reagan was elected as president. Later that year, Reagan was shot and brought to the GW Hospital. Stacey Rood said there was “commotion and rumors” that Reagan had died or returned to the White House following the attempted assassination.
“You didn’t have a 24-hour news cycle then, you couldn’t check things on your phone, and people over those few days would just come in with all kinds of stories,” Stacey Rood said.
Alex Rood is gearing up for graduation on the National Mall, but the backdrop was a bit different on her parents’ Commencement day.
Stacey and Gregg Rood graduated in the Smith Center. The University began holding Commencement on the Mall in 2005, more than two decades after Alex Rood’s parents graduated. Gregg Rood said the Mall was too large to host Commencement at the time because the class size was relatively smaller than today.
When Alex Rood’s parents graduated, former U.S. Rep. Silvio Ottavio Conte, R-Mass., spoke during the ceremony. The keynote speaker for Sunday’s ceremony is Savannah Guthrie, the co-host of the NBC morning show “Today.”
Despite the differences, Gregg Rood said seeing his daughter graduate from his alma mater will be “fairly emotional” because she is the “baby” of the family.
“We know that her experience at GW was tremendous and everything we would’ve hoped for, and very similar, but different than our experience was,” he said.