by Natalie Hershberger ( and Lin Philpott (

Connectedness is a key factor in student success and retention. Students who are engaged in the academic and social life of a college campus are more likely to persist to graduation. This engagement includes students developing meaningful relationships with peers, faculty, and staff as well as building strong academic bonds in and outside the classroom.

The beginning of the first year of college is a pivotal time for creating student connections among individuals and with the university. Among many avenues for creating connections, the Center for Student Engagement offers two pre-semester, co-curricular programs for new incoming students: Adventure Bound and LEAD GW. These programs ease participants’ transition to college and helps students build connections with the campus community before classes even begin. ...continue reading Leveraging Pre-Semester, Co-Curricular Programs to Support Student Success

by Natalie Hershberger ( and Bridgette Behling (

The Center for Student Engagement (CSE) Leadership Programs empower students to explore and build their leadership potential through a variety of co-curricular workshops and programs. Through our work, we want to produce ethical leaders who can think critically and take action to meet the challenges of today’s world and a future that we can’t yet imagine.

Leadership, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication are among the top skills employers list as the most essential aspects of a new hire. Students should be able to articulate the specific leadership skills they learned at GW and how that makes them a stand out candidate for future internship, career, and graduate school opportunities. ...continue reading Cultivating Socially Responsible Leaders through a Personalized Framework

by Kaitlyn Schmitt (

As part of their 2018 Commencement Guide, the GW Hatchet student newspaper reported on graduating student leaders' reflections on their involvement. The students discussed positive outcomes from their involvement in student organizations, including:

  • Applying skills they learned about in class to their student organizations,
  • Leveraging leadership experience in job interviews, and
  • Feeling a greater sense of belonging and community.

The Center for Student Engagement is committed to cultivating these positive outcomes through student organizations - part of why CSE staff have dedicated over 2,500 hours in the last academic year to advising student organizations. We're thrilled these students and many others have experienced these positive outcomes, and we will continue to encourage the involvement of incoming and current students to promote the opportunities to practice leadership, apply transferable skills, and feel connected to one another and to GW.

by Bob Wu ( and Kaitlyn Schmitt (

The Joint Elections Commission (JEC) is a select group of five students responsible for administering the student body elections. Appointed in December 2017, the student members of the 2018 JEC recruited candidates, oversaw campaigning, and encouraged students to vote in elections for the Student Association, Program Board, and Class Council. This year, we undertook several new initiatives to improve the student body elections.

Comprehensive Candidate Recruitment

A campaign season is nonexistent without candidates, and this year’s Commission placed a high priority on recruiting candidates across the University’s spectrum of colleges and undergraduate and graduate populations. We employed a variety of strategies to inform students of both the ability to run for student government, and the importance it has to our campus community. In the weeks before candidate registration officially began, we created and placed individualized blurbs in each of the University’s college newsletters, informing students of the opportunity to run for office. We also tabled at the Spring Student Organization Fair and within District House, a large student hub on campus, providing handouts and additional details for interested candidates. Finally, in tandem with student government leadership, the Commission hosted three information sessions for prospective candidates to obtain campaign calendar details and receive tips from current leaders on running a successful campaign. ...continue reading Reflections on Elections: Behind the Scenes of GW’s Student Elections

by Allen Rakotoniaina (

In the fast-paced life of a college student, leadership and teamwork skills are emphasized not only in academic curricula, but also in extracurricular activities, including campus involvement and internships. However, without a forum in which to practice, it can be a daunting task to translate the concepts of leadership and teamwork into real-world activities.

Enter the GW SUMMIT Outdoor Challenge Course.

As the only low ropes course located inside the District of Columbia, SUMMIT offers a convenient and unique opportunity for George Washington University undergraduate and graduate students to apply and develop individual leadership skills and build team cohesion. Many of GW’s student organizations (who participate for free), co-curricular and leadership programs such as Women’s Leadership Program and LEAD GW, and University departments use the Course as a mechanism to achieve a variety of learning outcomes. Since its opening in 2005, SUMMIT has hosted groups from American and Georgetown Universities, academic programs from the Washington Center and the Cyprus Bi-Communal Youth Institute, U.S. Government agencies, and corporate teams such as Fannie Mae and Capital One. This broad client base has contributed to the nearly 1,600 participants welcomed to the Course from summer 2017 though the 2017-2018 academic year. ...continue reading Reaching the SUMMIT: Peak Leadership and Team Development

How I Attacked Imposter Syndrome through Involvement in ACPA

by Ron Alexander (

When I entered student affairs as a professional, I learned about the term “Imposter Syndrome” from a colleague and supervisor in my first professional Residence Director role. Wikipedia defines impostor syndrome as "a psychological pattern in which people doubt their accomplishments and have a persistent, often internalized fear of being exposed as a 'fraud'." A constant theme that I have experienced in my time as a professional was not feeling like I belonged or that I deserved any type of award for the work that I did. In meetings (and I am still guilty of this), I wouldn't speak up, offer feedback, or engage in dialogue just because I had this internal discourse about  “who am I” or “I am at the bottom of the totem pole.” American College Personnel Association (ACPA) was the involvement and change agent I needed to find my worth in student affairs.

I came to know about ACPA in 2013 in a conversation with a current graduate student at Vanderbilt (who is now my colleague and friend Charlotte McLoud), and she told me about this organization that she was involved in and how it had shaped her experience in student affairs thus far, especially within the social justice realm. Charlotte encouraged me to look into the work that ACPA was currently doing in respects to professionals of color, social justice and inclusion, and racial injustice. Fast forward to 2015, a great opportunity arose! ...continue reading Imposter Syndrome and the Importance of Professional Associations

by David Marquis (

Four undergraduate students standing alone on stage transformed my experience and helped refocus my career path. This year, the Association of College Unions International (ACUI) chose to end a day of the annual conference with student stories and how the Union impacted them.

There were several thought provoking speakers during the conference, such as Soul Pancake CEO Shabnam Mogharabi and NPR host Celeste Headlee. However, none brought so many in the audience on a whirlwind trip of emotion as the “Student Voices Panel.” I admittedly was convinced prior to the session that I knew what I was signing up for - students sharing a bit of their experience - and I was not expecting to be impressed. After all, I had seen student panels before, and while I always found them somewhat interesting, I felt they quickly descend into specific questions about who the students are as individuals or generalizations about the identities the students hold. Instead, this time, when the lights went down, we witnessed a TED-style story told by each of the four students from the stage. ...continue reading The Impact of a Student Union

by Lauren Murphy (

I have been privileged to have amazing professionals invest in me over the years, from assisting me into university as a first generation student, to landing my first student affairs role and moving through each step in my career.  Through their support I have been able to observe good practice, have an outside view into my experiences, receive needed challenge and validation, and gain assistance in navigating unknown territory. More so, they did all this not because they had to, but because they genuinely wanted to.  As such, these are things that I have worked to emulate in my own practice, remembering to “pay it forward,” as one of my closer mentors reminds those around them to do.

Lauren mentors undergraduates at ACPA's NextGen Conference.

For myself, paying it forward comes through in a variety of ways, and it was most present in my ACPA conference attendance.  What was most striking for this year’s conference was that I have reached a clear point in my career where I am spending greater time investing in others then seeking it out for myself. Where my conference calendar had once been filled with coffee and lunch meetings with mentors, colleagues, and connections through my network, I was now taking more time to meet with mentees and new professionals who sought me out, to talk about everything from job searches to current issues in our field.  While this meant a change in how I was spending my time in conference, it was just as beneficial to my time, as each interaction somehow gave me fresh perspective and energy.

...continue reading Paying It Forward at ACPA

by Kristen Franklin (
Image from XETX Xerox Translator

With the GW student population spanning over 130 countries, GW Housing has taken the proactive measure to support and enhance the student experience by purchasing the Xerox Easy Translator Service app for out Xerox machine. This app has the capability to translate documents into numerous languages, which assists our office in both translating our documents into students’ native languages and translating documents received from students in other languages to English.

By utilizing this tool, we are able to provide students with an increased understanding of the documents they are signing, such as the Housing License Agreement, and help to clarify any questions they may have. Outside of housing, other departments may find this app helpful in translating advising guides, codes of student conduct, applications, directions, or FAQs.

If you have a Xerox machine, you may download the translator app by visiting the application gallery on the machine and then contacting Xerox to complete the installation. ...continue reading Utilizing Technology to Better Serve Our Students

by Sarah-Frances Lyon (

The cat over the moon. The moon jumped over. The cat jumped over. Moon.

Did that make sense to you? Me neither. But that’s what reading, writing and math are like for me. Words, numbers and symbols that make sense to others come off as gibberish to me. Things that are suppose to tell a story, give directions, communicate a thought or solve an equation are a constant battle and source of stress to me. The very things that guide others through the world are the things that keep me from experiencing it in the same way.

I have Dyslexia, Dyscalculia and Dysgraphia. ...continue reading Learning Disabilities Outside the Classroom