Lori Brister, who is completing her PhD in GW’s English Department under the direction of Professor Jennifer Green-Lewis, was chosen to deliver the graduate student opening remarks at this year’s official Graduate Student Welcome Ceremony. Lori was introduced by Provost Lerman, and then gave a speech to about 500 new graduate students in the Dorothy Betts Marvin Center Theater. A crowd of people also gathered around large screens in the Marvin Center, and a lot of people tuned in online. We even hear there’s a video out there somewhere. Congratulations, Lori. The text of Lori’s remarks follow.
GRADUATE STUDENT WELCOME CEREMONY
“Hello everyone! Welcome to GW! My name is Lori, and I’m going be your tour guide today.”
I’ve said these words twice a week, every week for two years as a tour guide for prospective and incoming graduate students. I’m sure many of you have taken my tours of campus. I’ve given those tours when it was 105 degrees outside. I’ve given them in the falling snow. I’ve given tours when I was passionate about my research for my doctoral dissertation, and I’ve given them when I hadn’t slept in days because I was revising an article for publication. That’s the life of a graduate student. Sometimes it’s exciting; sometimes it’s scary. But it’s always a challenge. I have a quote that hangs above my desk that reads: “Sure, a ship is safe at port, but that’s not what ships are built for.” Ships are built to weather the storms and cross the seas. Ships are made for challenges, and, as humans, so are we. Looking at my own life, I know that I was made for challenges, and if you’re in this room, you were too. My advice to you as a new graduate student is not only to accept the challenge, but to embrace it with enthusiasm.
Firstly, embrace the challenge of contributing to a rigorous intellectual environment. That’s what you’ve come here to do—to learn, to research, to push your boundaries, and to achieve your goals. Secondly, embrace the challenge of engaging with the GW community. Get involved with your department and graduate school. At GW, we’re very proud of our service record. No matter where your interests and talents lie, there’s a student organization that can put those to use, improving our community here on campus and around the globe. Lastly, embrace the challenge of living, really living in this city. DC is an exciting cultural capital. Take the time out of your busy schedules to explore the neighborhoods and attend concerts and lectures. These may not be experiences you can list on a resume, but they fundamentally change the way you think about the world. As a student at GW, I’ve attended events with Nobel laureates, world leaders, Secretaries of State, President Clinton, and President Obama. They all come here for the same reasons you have, because they know that The George Washington University is a place where ideas are exchanged, diversity is valued, and leaders are made.
Normally, this is the part of the tour where I answer your questions and give you directions to the metro station or admissions offices. But you’re already here; you’re already headed in the right direction. Just embrace your challenges and keep moving forward. Thank you.