GWupstart Commissioners 2020-2021

Faith

Faith Arthur

Class of 2022 

Major & School: Human Services & Social Justice in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences with a minor in Africana Studies and STEM Teaching

Hometown: New York City, NY

What does it mean to be part of the commissioner team for you? Being a part of the commissioner team means having the opportunity to support turning innovative ideas into real life projects. It also means working with a team of people who value social innovation in service.

What is a social issue that you admire the way college students are working to address in our world today? I admire how college students are addressing issues around education in prisons. The Petey Greene Program has many college chapters that train college students to tutor incarcerated students who are often denied educational opportunities.

What is a piece of advice that you would give to a GW student interested in applying for a grant to execute their own project? GW students interested in applying for a grant to execute their own project should be sure to have conversations with the people they intend on serving. Research is never enough, being intentional about having those we serve involved in conversations about change is important.

What's something you feel you have learned about yourself in 2020? One thing I learned about myself this year is that I am skilled in building community and assisting people in recognizing mutually beneficial relationships in service.

What is one word that you hope describes your fall 2020 semester and why? I hope fall 2020 can be described as successful. In addition to my desire for personal academic success, I hope there is success for Black people in our marathon for change.

Gabi

Gabrielle Bello

Class of 2022 

Major & School: Human Services & Social Justice in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences

Hometown: Chicago, IL

What does it mean to be part of the commissioner team for you? It is truly an honor to be a member of the commissioner team. It is so inspiring to see the innovative, action-oriented projects that students submit. As someone who has both the students and community’s best interests at heart, I recognize the privilege I have in making a decision when it comes to the types of funding opportunities we give to those who apply. Therefore, I always strive to make sure we are creating mutually beneficial and sustainable partnerships between GW students and the greater DC community.

What is a social issue that you admire the way college students are working to address in our world today? I have admired the way in which college students have pressured universities to divest from fossil fuels. I have so much respect for all those involved in the Sunrise movement, especially at GW. In the span of months, they got GW to commit to fully divesting the university endowment from all public and private securities of companies that focus on the extraction of fossil fuels by 2025. There are still so many more demands to be met and so much more work to be done; however, this is such a great first step.

What is a piece of advice that you would give to a GW student interested in applying for a grant to execute their own project? One piece of advice I always try to emphasize for GW interested in applying for a grant to execute their own project is to make sure that you have both a strong community support behind the project as well as a team member who is from or looks like the community you will be serving before you apply for a grant. One of the most harmful things that can be done is for a student to tell the community “you have this problem and here is how I’ll fix it”. Instead, there must be a partnership built on trust rather than exploitation. This will allow for the sustainability and true success of the project. 

What's something you feel you have learned about yourself during 2020? One thing that I have learned about myself during this year is how resilient I am. I have encountered many trials and tribulations, but I have also overcome each and every single one of them. 

What is one word that you hope describes your fall 2020 semester and why? One word that I hope describes my fall 2020 is “change”. This word means many things to me at this moment. I think now so more than ever, it is quite apparent that change is needed, and we can no longer be complicit nor complacent in systems of oppression. On the other hand, as a student who will be learning virtually for the fall semester, it is going to be quite a change from the semesters I am used to. But I think that change is also so very positive. Although these changes may be uncomfortable and scary at times, they also allow for the opportunity of growth. It is time for growth through change, and that’s what I hope we will all experience.

Eptisam

Eptisam Kassim

Class of 2021

Major & School: Sociology & Computer Science in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences

Hometown: Cambridge, MA

What does it mean to be part of the commissioner team for you? Being part of the commissioner team means that I get a chance to contribute to innovative projects that will hopefully help several people and in a way, is the first step I get to make in ultimately creating a better future.

What is a social issue that you admire the way college students are working to address in our world today? It's hard to choose one issue because everything is interconnected and overlaps with each other, but if I have to choose it would be race. Race has impacted my life in several ways, and I’m really proud of all the activist in the BLM movement that's happening currently. Hopefully we’ll see justice soon.

What is a piece of advice that you would give to a GW student interested in applying for a grant to execute their own project?  Showcase your passion in your application! 

What's something you feel you have learned about yourself during this year? Reflection and journaling really helps you go through some of your emotions and is a good self-care tactic. What is one word that you hope describes your fall 2020 and why? Collective! The pandemic showed people supporting each other and virtually being together, and I’m sure we’re going to see a lot of that in the fall.

 

natasha

Natasha Patel 

Class of 2022 

Major & School: International Affairs in Elliott School of International Affairs 

Hometown: Princeton, NJ

What does it mean to be part of the commissioner team for you? Being a part of the commissioner team means supporting my peers. I love that I get to be a part of the team that supports and funds all of these projects that are bettering my community in such amazing ways. 

What is a social issue that you admire the way college students are working to address in our world today? I admire everyone's courage and bravery when speaking out against sexual violence on campus. College students have created a movement against sexual violence that holds perpetrators accountable, confronts institutions that wish to protect perpetrators, and challenges the stigma of sexual violence. 

What is a piece of advice that you would give to a GW student interested in applying for a grant to execute their own project? Sustainability, sustainability, sustainability! The Public Service Grant is intended to be a one-time start up grant so it is important to the commissioners that your project has a way to sustain itself after the initial grant money has been spent. 

What's something you feel you have learned about yourself during this year? I learned that I like to paint to relax and when I am bored. This has brought out more of my creative side and I am excited to explore it more. 

What is one word that you hope describes your fall 2020 and why? Innovative. I feel like with all of the issues that the pandemic has brought, we have continued to innovate and improve in order to make the best out of a hard situation.

rubin

Rubin Roy

Class of 2023

Major & School: Computer Science, School of Engineering and Applied Science

Hometown: Danville, CA

What does it mean to be part of the commissioner team for you? To me, being part of the commissioner team means getting to play a role in the vibrant ecosystem of social entrepreneurs, changemakers, and activists at GW. I’m incredibly excited to learn while providing resources and guidance as part of this position.

What is a social issue that you admire the way college students are working to address in our world today? I really admire the way college students have addressed food insecurity, especially within the GW community. Alumni have established several initiatives designed to address the issue and our own student body successfully advocated for better access to resources. 

What is a piece of advice that you would give to a GW student interested in applying for a grant to execute their own project? The advice I would give to students interested in applying for a grant is: listen. Especially to those whom you would be serving, and those who have already had experience in the space your work would be centered in. 

What's something you feel you have learned about yourself in 2020? Over this past year, I’ve learned how important it is for me to stay connected with other students and changemakers. During quarantine, while safe, in-person interaction has been difficult, keeping in touch has given me a chance to hear from my friends and for us to provide mutual support to each other.

What is one word that you hope describes your fall 2020 semester and why? I hope the word “growth” describes my fall 2020 semester. I’m especially excited to grow my knowledge and experience as part of my interaction with students who hope to drive change within the GW community. While the current circumstances undoubtedly bring obstacles, the adjustments that students have made also showcases the growth that each of us is experiencing as part of this uncertain environment.

julia

Julia Smith

Graduate Student, Class of Fall 2021

Major & School: Masters in English in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences 

Hometown: Mission Viejo, CA

What does it mean to be part of the commissioner team for you? For me, being on the commissioner team means continuing a culture of care on campus. GW has introduced me to so many amazing young people who have both the passion and willpower to correct injustices. These are the kind of students who make me proud to call GW my Alma Mater – twice! This program proves that these students can make a difference and that there are resources to help them get there. I hope that the students in our program will then continue to inspire future students as well.

What is a social issue that you admire the way college students are working to address in our world today? I am constantly inspired by student activists on campus. I am particularly grateful for those leaders – largely Black and Indigenous students – who have led discussions surrounding antiracism and our school’s legacy of colonialism. I also admire student environmental activists, whom I applaud for their successful campaign to divest GW’s endowment from fossil fuels. All these student leaders have been amazingly tenacious in their endeavors to build a more just and equitable future.

What is a piece of advice that you would give to a GW student interested in applying for a grant to execute their own project? My advice for GW students who would like to develop their own project is to be curious. Social innovation requires creativity and an understanding of underlying issues. If you ask your community questions you can gain a more dynamic and vibrant understanding of the systems and processes that hinder progress, as well as unique approaches to remedy these issues. As an added bonus, it’s also wonderful to meet new people and hear new stories within your community. 

What is one word that you hope describes your fall 2020 semester and why? I hope that this fall will be unifying. I hope that in the face of immense injustices, our community will rally around collective wellbeing and liberation.