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Twin Views of George Washington University

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by Brandon and Parris Lloyd

I am not dining at Le Diplomate on 14th Street in Washington DC or Dominique Bouchet on the Champs Elysees. I am 12 years old, sitting in Applebee’s. I begin speaking to myself–in French.  I translate as much of the menu as I can before my friends arrive.

It was Love at the First Class. I started studying French in Sixth Grade and it became my passion. Whenever I was alone, I spoke to myself in French. Eventually, thinking in French became second nature. French classes were not enough. I started listening to audio tapes. When I made my first trip to Paris at 14, my passion for the study of the language and culture grew even stronger.

At George Washington, I would hope to participate in GW’s Paris Business Studies Program. In fact, I am drawn to George Washington since it combines my love of French culture with my interest in business in a specific program. During my tour, I met students with passions for various languages and different cultures, which made me feel at home. I see the community itself at GW as interconnected and diverse. Having students in class from different parts of the globe will be an eye opening experience for me, allowing me to become more cosmopolitan in my thinking and academic approaches.

I am also attracted to GW largely because of the School of Business faculty. I am excited by the opportunity to take classes such as Global Focus, Business Law and Ethics, and Investment and Portfolio Management with such accomplished professors, including a senior economist for the World Bank to a business studies language expert in charge of the GW CIBER Business French module. My interests in French and business would lead me to seek the vast research opportunities for undergrads, which provide additional ways to learn from such a strong faculty.

My visit to the George Washington campus demonstrated many other appealing qualities. The location in Washington DC is ideal as it offers many opportunities, such as meeting with government officials through off-campus events or brown bag luncheons. My social interactions with students during my visit showed firsthand the qualities of students drawn to the energetic atmosphere and close-knit community. The students noted that student organizations and clubs play a significant role university life. I would become involved with the Civic House program, GW French Club, and the GW Finance and Investment club. These clubs would build on my high school extra-curricular activities. Currently, I am involved with the White Plains Youth Council, the White Plains Youth Court, and many other community service programs.

George Washington University– from the extra curricular offerings to the academics–is the ideal place. I have toured many schools with impressive programs. Yet when I consider what I want from a college education, George Washington is best suited to my interests.

 Brandon Lloyd, a graduate of White Plains High School, is currently a freshman at George Washington University along with his twin, Parris.

UntitledWhen I started my college search, I opposed looking at any urban campuses. I wanted to be surrounded by the ‘rolling greens’ seen in college movies. That changed when I visited George Washington in March, and my view of the ideal college was redefined by the historical sites in DC and the blending of cultures—political, urban and academic. I am drawn to GW for the model ways that the school immerses itself within the cultures of Washington DC.

At GW, I will get the best of both worlds: a city campus and a green campus as well. If DC life ever became too much, I could always go to the Mount Vernon Campus, where I can imagine my lungs consuming the scent of freshly-cut grass as I walk. On another day, I see myself eagerly racing to Cross-Cultural Psychology or Developmental Psychopathology. Afterwards, I go to a Class Council meeting to put the finishing touches on plans for an upcoming fundraiser. Then I go to my Women’s Leadership program meeting to explore ways to grab our peers’ attention to the issues important to our organization. At the end of my day, I’ll be exhausted, but fulfilled, knowing I’m taking advantage of what GW has to offer academically, residentially, and extracurricularly.

GW provides a plethora of opportunities for me as a psychology major. I was excited to find a research requirement, and opportunities to be part of cutting-edge research even as a student. By making research a requirement, the school demonstrates its devotion to making sure students are proactive in their fields.

The connections that GW has made with surrounding embassies and corporations make for internship opportunities I haven’t seen at other schools, which will allow me to be even more proactive in my field. I am excited by the fact that GW offers internships for any focus, which will allow me to start building work experience as early as freshman year. While visiting, I met a student interning with the American Psychological Association. He said GW helped him find the internship.

Diversity is important to me, and I want to go to a school where diversity isn’t just black and white—where the culture of the university is influenced by many ethnicities. GW does more than accepting students of different backgrounds; it encourages those students to share their culture with others. Beyond its worldwide connections, GW is a global community because of the various multicultural clubs, groups, and activities that thrive on campus.

I am drawn to GW for its academics, opportunities, and location in our nation’s capital. What really sold me was my overnight experience. I met so many students who love the GW community and fully embrace the friends they have made. Observing the GW students made a lasting impression on me.

 Parris Lloyd, a graduate of Ursuline High School in New Rochelle, is a freshman at George Washington University along with her twin, Brandon.

The Incarnations of Leadership

The Incarnations of Leadership

By Parris Lloyd

UntitledFive different people were calling my name. No, six people. Backstage, one of the singers was on the verge of a meltdown, screaming for the person in charge. The talent was getting restless. Onstage, a dance group was forgetting the choreography. Everything deteriorated from being completely organized to disastrous in what seemed like two seconds. I had 48 hours to pull together the 8th grade talent show alone; my partner quit in realizing the level of intensive work that the show required.

My class elected me to do this, so I couldn’t abandon my responsibilities. With that in mind, I closed my eyes for a second and took control of the chaos. I re-organized the acts so that everyone would have enough time for costume changes. I helped the dancers with their choreography. I ran a CD on my laptop at practice instead of waiting for the tardy tech crew members. The day before the show, I called a meeting to bring everyone to the same page.

I did it without screaming a word. To my peers, I looked calm. Yet I felt completely drained, and insanely proud in the end. The show did go on flawlessly to loud applause at its conclusion.

It was the start of my reputation in my school as a leader who is calm and who gets things done, no matter what the circumstance. I was elected president of my class as a sophomore and chosen to coordinate fundraising among 16 sister schools to provide clean water for African villages. Given my record, I was considered the frontrunner in the election for president of my senior class. I envisioned the position as climatic of my high school experiences in leadership. I had compiled a list of plans for the class. However, the campaign turned into my first major failure. I lost the election.

For days after the defeat, I thought about the campaign. New teachers had created new regulations forcing students to get faculty approval for their speeches. “No promises” was the new rule and the faculty censors edited the life out of my speech. Through any failure, it is important to explore what could have prevented the loss. In doing so, I imagined myself fighting the censorship with the calm, signature style of my leadership that I displayed in pulling the talent show together. I could have gone to the administration to fight for my speech, explaining why such censorship compromises elections. Perhaps, I could have been more creative in finding alternate ways to make my ideas shine through my speech, instead of focusing on what we were no longer allowed to say. Most importantly, I could have found alternative outlets to show my classmates why they should elect me.

Rather than sob over the defeat, I know there will be more opportunities for me to employ the lessons from this loss. I also realized being a leader is more than winning an election or holding a title. My loss doesn’t ban me from having an impact on my class or engaging my leadership skills in other causes. My failure gave me the chance to step up in other extracurricular activities. For years, I have been involved in the Breast Cancer Awareness Club at my school. I became President of the Club this year. I still continue as a member of Student Council and I joined its Transfer Student Welcoming Committee and the Senior Class Gift Committee in hopes to leave a lasting impact on my school after I graduate. I know I will experience other failures throughout my life. Fortunately I will always have a strong model of how to guide myself to new successes after any failure.

Parris Lloyd, a freshman at George Washington University, is a 2014 graduate of the Ursuline School in Westchester County.

A Lasting Friendship with Music

A Lasting Friendship with Music

By Brandon Lloyd

unnamedI saw clouds of rosin dust rising in front of my violin. We played as if there was no tomorrow and, in a way, there wasn’t, since this was Mr. Eckfeld’s last concert as conductor. The songs were an understated culmination of his tenure at White Plains High School. His years of teaching dissipated into me as I played the uptempo selections such as, Allegro, Aus Holbergs Zeit, and Walzer, conveying the merry, high points in his career. The slow, melancholy, and somber songs such as  Xyklus 3  sent another message:  “Goodbye, my dear old friends.”

Yes he was saying goodbye to us, but not to music. Neither his retirement nor aging would sever him from his love and prevent him from a pleasurable moment with his own violin. This powerful reflection came with the transformative roles of the violin and guitar in my life. They became my models of optimism—instruments of the idea that good things can evolve from tragic moments.

It started when I faced the biggest milestone in my other passion: Martial Arts. JT Torres and Pablo Popovitch, two of the world’s best Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioners, were coming to my martial arts school.  I have always idolized them in the way I revere Mr. Eckfeld, and I was thrilled to step on the mat with them.  Before I knew it, I was in the mix, practicing takedowns and drills with Torres and Popovitch. It was surreal.  I was getting up after showing my partner a submission, when I felt a sudden twinge and loud pop in my knee. I crumpled to the ground writhing in pain. I couldn’t get up with excruciating pain shooting up into my leg and knee.  I have encountered gruesome injuries before, but nothing like this.

In the following days, the onslaught of bad news crippled my emotional state. My MRI showed that I had torn my left meniscus, which required surgery.  I couldn’t return to Martial Arts for at least six months. For ten years, I had never gone a week without martial arts. Six months seemed unbearable!

Music lifted me from my despair. After surgery, I had copious amounts of time for my guitar and violin. Previously, I practiced music outside of school about twice a week. After the injury, I practiced every day. I began to see the notes differently as music offered what physical therapy didn’t: a way to express myself. The instruments became extensions of myself as I got lost in the music I played. The slow, downbeat pieces laced with somber and melancholy notes perfectly reflected and described my emotional state in the first weeks after therapy.

Yet, one small moment profoundly changed my outlook on music: the words of a physician’s assistant teaching me to care for my leg. “When you’re young you should make sure not to rush recovery and remember you won’t be able to do some of the things you can do now when you’re much older.”  The words hit me while I was practicing guitar. I won’t be able to perform some of the martial arts techniques that require substantial skill when I’m older. Yet I could play my violin and guitar for years beyond retirement, just as Mr. Eckfeld can. His talent grew with age, as I hope mine will. However, my limitations in martial arts may grow as I age.  Had the injury not happened, I may not have fully appreciated my future with music or the true meaning of Mr. Eckfeld’s last night conducting my orchestra.  It was a moment emphasizing the potential for a long future with my instruments on my own terms. I may not have a career as a musician but the instruments will always be there for me to pick up and will offer a mode of expression.

Brandon Lloyd, a graduate of White Plains High School, will be a freshman at George Washington University in September.

Finding Myself in My Name

by Malcolm Thompson

I was once afraid of the dark and terrified of girls. Today I am a fearless defensive lineman, captain of the wrestling team and my best friend is a girl

Years ago, there were times when I would stay up all night watching T.V. or lie awake in my bed terrified of the wild monsters and robbers that my bizarre, little imagination created. I don’t know how I overcame my intense fear of the dark. It happened in fifth grade around the time my phobia of girls took over.  I remember sitting speechlessly next to Martha as we car pooled to school in sixth grade.  By eighth grade, we were talking and she is now my best friend who knows many of my secrets.

It wasn’t until I was 15 years old that I realized the importance of transformation and growth, and saw the confrontation of my fears as an asset. I started actively seeking information on my namesake, Malcolm X, and I began to see that my natural eagerness to grow and change was something I had in common with this great man.  Malcolm X was constantly growing and evolving on a much larger scale than I had ever faced. His passion for reading and gaining knowledge during his jail sentence led to his transformation into a recognized intellectual.

Overcoming fears was just the beginning of applying the lessons I’ve learned from Malcolm X. In my freshman year, I came onto the wrestling team in poor shape. I lacked the balance and the coordination necessary.  It was one the most frustrating periods of my life. I hated going to practice. I hated when my coaches and older teammates would try to help me.  Getting slammed to the mat countless times by seniors not only hurt physically, but also damaged  my mental state.  Nothing was worse than the match I was winning until a stupid mistake resulted in a loss.

My frustration boiled into a self-destructive rage that kept me from improving as a wrestler.  During that year, I read The Autobiography of Malcolm X. When Malcolm first arrived in prison, he too was overcome by anger.  I considered how Malcolm was able to channel his anger into his studies while in prison.  Using my own anger as motivation, I worked on getting in better shape, lifting weights and putting on more muscle during the off season.  Knowing that I was in better shape gave me confidence going into the next wrestling season.  At the beginning of my sophomore year, I knew that I could have a shot at wrestling varsity, which made me want to grow into a better wrestler. I ended up winning 14 varsity matches in that year.

I admired Malcolm’s truly open mind and his ability to allow his ideas to constantly grow, especially during his travels to Africa and the Middle East.  I used this as my inspiration when I journeyed to Ghana for five weeks this past summer. When I first arrived, I struggled with adjusting to Ghanaian life, from people eating with their hands to bargaining with vendors.  Since my days as an infant, I have been taught that it was barbaric to eat food with your hands.  When I first put Fufu, mushy food made from mashed yams, in my fingers to eat, I felt so strange. Yet I pushed myself to embrace it.  If Malcolm X could travel to Mecca and completely change his view of the world, then I could at least learn to eat with my hands like a real Ghanaian.  By the end of my time in Ghana, I was saying hello to every person I passed in the streets, haggling with merchants at markets, and even doing a little bit of singing and dancing at church with my host family. My way of thinking did not change drastically in the way Malcolm’s worldview changed with his trip abroad, but I still challenged myself.

Legendary hip-hop artist Tupac Shakur once said, “I want to grow. I want to be better. You Grow. We all grow. We’re made to grow. You either evolve or you disappear.” Being able to grow means being able to transform and improve your life. It may be something small like eradicating a childhood fear, or something larger like going from a convicted burglar to an inspirational human rights activist.  I hope I am able to continually embrace transformations that will push me to grow.

Malcolm Thompson, a 2012 graduate of The Horace Mann School, is a freshman at George Washington University.

 

Raising My Voice

by Kayla McCloud

I replaced my traditional Catholic school uniform with a shirt that read: “Some dudes marry dudes. Get over it.” It was the monthly tag day when students are not required to wear uniforms. Once I arrived at school, I immediately noticed the stares and heard not-so-subtle whispers from passers-by. Walking to a special Spirit Day breakfast, one of the school’s toughest teachers stopped me: “That shirt is not allowed. Do you have a sweatshirt or jacket you can put on?”

“Yes,” I obeyed without putting up a fight. I changed into a Union Catholic sweatshirt. Somehow, later in the school day, I mustered up the courage to take it off. Yet I carried the sweatshirt around with me just to be safe in case I ran into any strict teachers.

I did not encounter any more problems that day, but I was angry with myself for not standing up for my beliefs. I had subconsciously become that little girl again–the girl who was afraid to speak up, the girl who did not have a voice at school.  At the age of five, I was diagnosed with Selective Mutism, an anxiety disorder in which a child who is normally capable of speech is unable to speak in certain situations, or to certain people. I was comfortable talking to members of  my immediate family and close friends. Yet at school, I did not talk to anyone. I remember the first day of first grade. I sat down at a table and a little boy introduced himself to me, “Hi I’m Devin. What’s your name?” I waved at him, and remained silent. He was waiting for a reply, but he never got one. His face was filled with confusion. He asked me “Why aren’t you talking?” That was just another question unanswered. A girl sitting across from us jumped in: “She isn’t going to talk to you. That’s the girl that doesn’t talk.”

With the help of intensive and interactive therapy at age seven, I gradually began to speak in school.  On the first day of high school, I witnessed how far I had come. Full of nerves, I walked into my freshman homeroom. It was completely and utterly silent. You could hear a pin drop in the room. I sat in an empty seat next to a girl whom I had never met before. When I sat down, we made eye contact and I whispered “Hi.” Her face lit up and she murmured, “Hey, I’m Julie.”  We continued talking until homeroom was over.  Our conversation was the only indication of life in the room. Somehow, I put my voice to use that day when everyone else remained silent with the first-day-of-high-school jitters.

Through my struggles with communicating, I learned how important it is to be heard and understood. I recognized that language, whether spoken aloud or written on a T-Shirt, was powerful. My struggles have sensitized me to people who are shy. If I see a person sitting alone in a room, the extroverted side of me takes over and I go to introduce myself. Nevertheless, there are times when I feel like that silent five-year-old girl again. Specifically, the day I was forced to hide the shirt that expressed my views, which some found controversial. Like a child hiding under a blanket, I hid under the blanket of mutism.

If I could relive that day, I would not let my fear win that battle over the warring tensions inside me. I would refuse to be silent. After my experience with Selective Mutism, I promised myself that I would always have a voice. No matter what, I will be heard. I regret breaking that promise over a shirt that was an expression of my true voice.


Kayla McCloud is a freshman at George Washington University and a 2012 graduate of Union Catholic High School in Scotch Plains, New Jersey.