Washington, DC -- Georgetown University highlights the following outstanding graduating seniors from the class of 2005:
Ben Cote, Math and Political Economy (COL ’05), Scarborough, Maine
Ben Cote’s commitment to social justice has led him in many directions at Georgetown. After learning that friend had been the victim of sexual violence, he founded the university’s first all-male student organization dedicated to raising awareness about the issue. This group, Georgetown University Men Advocating Relationship Responsibility (GUMARR), has organized service projects for students at a local women’s shelter, launched a program to educate students about gender violence and participated in a campus-wide sexual assault awareness day. He has also been active in Georgetown's Knights of Columbus chapter, a Catholic men's organization.
Ben was recently selected as one of 12 George J. Mitchell scholars and will attend University of Ulster in Northern Ireland next year to pursue a master’s degree in peace and conflict studies. “There is a world out there and it is a great deal larger than me,” he said of his volunteer work. “If I apply my education, if I can develop a policy that makes the lives of one struggling family better, I will make a difference.”
Jennifer Howitt, International Politics (SFS ’05), Orinda, Calif.
Jen Howitt joined the ranks of more than 20 other Georgetown graduates this year when she was named a 2005 Rhodes Scholar. Jen will enter Oxford University’s M.Phil. program in August where she plans to build on her undergraduate work in development studies. Specifically, Jen plans to explore innovative ways to promote the economic and social integration of disabled people in developing countries. Her interest in this subject matter grew through her travels to Nicaragua as part of a group doing research on disability access and wheelchair availability there.
Jen can also add Paralympic basketball gold medallist to her list of achievements. At the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens, Greece, Jen joined the U.S. women’s wheelchair basketball team to take home the gold. She was also a member of the 2000 team. Howitt lost the use of her legs in a hiking accident as a child and, with the encouragement of her father, began playing basketball a few years later. Now, Howitt has started a wheelchair basketball team for young women in Washington, D.C., much like the one that spurred her own interest in sports as a teenager.
Greg Mullaney, Finance and Accounting (MSB '05), Niskayuna, N.Y.
As the head of this year's student-led Jesuit Heritage Week planning committee, Greg led a campus celebration that commemorated 216 years of faith, scholarship, and tradition at Georgetown University.
This year's JHW included eighteen events during the week and six fireside chats with Jesuits to help introduce students and Jesuits in the residence halls. Nearly 1,700 Georgetown community members took part.
"The Jesuit expression 'men and women for others' was one I thought and knew understood prior to my involvement with service at Georgetown," he said. "My experience with service has led me to believe that the essential component to this truth is self-sacrifice."
With his involvement in New Student Orientation, GU's Knights of Columbus, as a confirmation leader at local parish Holy Trinity, and as a member of the university's Neighborhood Council, Greg has helped make his community more livable in a variety of ways.
Sabrina Nguyen, Finance and International Business(MSB '05), St. Louis, Mo.
When Sabrina was just three years old, she and her mother embarked on their seventh attempt to escape from Vietnam. They landed in Thailand after a nine-day boat journey and then spent three years in refugee camps before immigrating to the United States and settling in St. Louis, Mo. Sabrina credits her mother’s hard work and sacrifice with giving her the opportunity to study at Georgetown. When she arrived in the fall of 2001, Sabrina was determined to study business and economics, the driving forces that brought her family to America in search of greater opportunities. She then adopted a minor in Justice and Peace Studies in order to fully understand the implications of international business and globalization.
Through her studies, Sabrina traveled as a representative of Georgetown’s Center for Social Justice, Research and Teaching to Juarez, Mexico as a border awareness researcher. There she met with human rights lawyers and grassroots organizers, spent time in squatter settlements and learned from asylum seekers and undocumented immigrants. She continued to put into practice the study of social justice and business by co-founding the William Gaston Foundation for Behavioral Healthcare, a non-profit business providing financial medical subsidies to Washington D.C. children diagnosed with mental health disorders.
Upon graduation, Sabrina will travel through South Asia, returning to Vietnam for the first time since escaping with her mother. In the fall, she will continue studying business and social justice issues in the field of international trade policy at Georgetown University Law Center.
Osbert "Oz" Ocampo (COL ’05), Political Economy, Bergenfield, N.J.
A number of Oz Ocampo's GU experiences have led him to his first job after graduation, as Academy Administrator for the St. Louis Cardinals' baseball academy in the Dominican Republic.
As an NSO leader for three of his four years at Georgetown, Oz says his work mentoring younger students helped him develop the confidence to pursue the opportunity in Latin America, taking a semester off to work in the Dominican Republic after a semester abroad in Argentina.
"I remembered during NSO how passionate I was about the job that we were doing to help new students transition to life at Georgetown, and I knew that if I was going to be happy, I needed a job that I would be passionate about," he says.
In his new role, Oz will help the academy players -- all between the ages of 16 and 19, most of them from the Dominican Republic and Venzuela -- develop personal and professional skills as they prepare to qualify for major league baseball in the United States. Part of his job will be to help them make the transition from Latin America to the United States, which is analogous to his NSO role.
"I want to help develop the prospects I'll be working with not only as baseball players, but as individuals, so that they may have opportunities to support their families outside of the baseball industry," he says. "Being at Georgetown and studying abroad in Latin America helped make me more aware of social justice issues, and by taking this job, I'm able to combine my interests."
Elisa Perez (COL ’05), Government, El Monte, Calif.
Elisa has dedicated much of her extracurricular time at Georgetown to giving back to the Washington, D.C., community. But after she graduates in May, she’ll start on a bigger task: Returning to her neighborhood in East Los Angeles, to head a not-for-profit educational organization for those in need. Elisa, who majored in government with a Spanish minor, has received two fellowships from UCLA, where she'll also pursue a graduate degree.
While at Georgetown, Elisa has worked closely with Alpha Phi Omega, a service fraternity at Georgetown, volunteering at rehabilitation centers, women’s shelters, and youth centers in DC, volunteered in the university's Center for Minority Educational Affairs, and was selected to be one of 20 Latina students in the country to participate in a Hispanic Leadership Institute in Washington.
Elisa says that giving back to her community is important to her, and that tutoring those from disadvantaged neighborhoods – much like the one she grew up in as part of an immigrant family – is one way she is able to help others as well as providing a support network that has been missing since she left home. She says that many of her peers at Georgetown never had to overcome the obstacles that she did – gangs, drugs, violence, and teen pregnancy were common in El Monte, and many of her friends from home never left the neighborhood, some never even finishing high school.
“I’m from El Monte, and if there is something that you can possibly give to others, it’s important to give back,” she said. “They need me and I need them.”
Sofina Qureshi, Accounting (MSB '05), San Jose, Calif. Sofina began her freshman year at Georgetown without knowing anyone on campus, just a few weeks before the September 11 terrorist attacks occurred. Like many Muslim-Americans, she was initially concerned about the community reaction to her faith, embodied by her traditional headscarf. However, she quickly realized that the students she met during New Student Orientation (NSO), a student-run organization helping freshmen ease the transition to Georgetown, reached out to her and treated her like an old friend. This experience led her to become a captain and group leader with NSO in order to give new students the same welcoming experience at Georgetown that she had.
Sofina also served as a Peer Educator, working with Georgetown’s Division of Student Affairs to educate students about issues including depression, alcohol, drugs, nutrition and eating disorders. In addition, she served as Ramadan Coordinator with the Muslim Students Association, spearheading fundraising, catering and inter-faith activities for over 120 students breaking their fast.
An Accounting major with a double minor in History and Medieval Studies, Sofina will join Boston Consulting Group’s D.C. office this fall.
Terra White (COL '05), Sociology and English, Overland Park, Kans.
Terra White has dedicated the majority of her time at Georgetown University to promoting literacy within a variety of communities. Most remarkable, perhaps, is her work on behalf of Georgetown University’s Prison Outreach program, which provides GED and ESL tutoring to inmates at the Arlington (Va.) County Detention Facility (ACDF). Terra’s work with a learning disabled inmate helped her earn the Lisa Raines Research Fellowship to conduct in-depth research on the prevalence and experience of inmates with learning disabilities. Terra has presented the results of her research in an article published in Reflections (March 2004), a scholarly journal focusing on writing, service learning and community literacy, and at the 2005 Community Research and Learning Network Annual Conference.
Other efforts include involvement with the DC Schools Project and the PACT Program, two tutoring programs in the D.C. area, as well as participation in the Masizikhulise (“We Grow Together”) program in Cape Town, South Africa, which helps unemployed mothers develop entrepreneurial and literacy skills.
About Georgetown University
Georgetown University is the oldest Catholic and Jesuit university in America, founded in 1789 by Archbishop John Carroll. Georgetown today is a major student-centered, international, research university offering respected undergraduate, graduate and professional programs on its three campuses. For more information about Georgetown University, visit www.georgetown.edu.