Coming Full Circle

Shannon Chai, COL’18 and Ndeye Ndiaye, COL’18

Senior Ndeye Ndiaye, an American studies major, anthropology minor, and student worker for Campus Ministry, is a busy woman on campus. This past summer she was involved with New Student Orientation as an Orientation Advisor and continues her role as a leader on campus as an ESCAPE Leader. In the following interview, Ndeye shares how her experiences have shaped her life on the Hilltop.

What did you do this past summer?

I had a bit of a whirlwind summer. I spent the first month in Dakar, Senegal, where I got to spend time with my family, watch younger friends graduate from high school, and decompress from the stress of the school year. I didn’t realize how much I needed this time away until I was given the time to focus on myself. Following that month, I returned to D.C. and celebrated my 21st birthday with my birthday twin and fellow co-worker, roommate and one of my closest friends here, Shannon Chai, alongside our friends. I felt extremely loved.

The month of July was a bit rough, but I finished out the month working as a Center for Multicultural Equity and Access (CMEA) Communications Intern and a research assistant for the Georgetown Slavery Archive with Professor Adam Rothman. I think the highlight of the summer was the return of Game of Thrones! I can’t believe we only have one more season to left.

You were a New Student Orientation (NSO) Orientation Advisor (OA) this year. What was that like? What were your responsibilities?

I don’t think anything could have prepared me for NSO. It’s one thing to experience it as a freshman, but it’s quite another to experience it as an OA.

The training days were extremely long, and NSO was even longer, but it was incredibly rewarding. During training, we were exposed to a variety of university resources, logistical training as well as group facilitation training. It was extensive and for good reason. As OAs, we are one of the first points of contact for incoming students, and it’s important that we are able to help any new student as best as we possibly can.

It was my first time being an OA, and I have to say it was the perfect start to my senior year. I had the most amazing group of students, who not only were actively engaged with the NSO programming but who also ended up bonding amongst themselves in a really unique way. They all come from different backgrounds and have different cultural experiences, but they were able to connect in a way that I wouldn’t have predicted. Navigating personalities and figuring out how to connect with all of them was a rewarding challenge. The best part was that they are living in my freshman dorm, Darnall Hall. It truly felt like my Georgetown experience was coming full circle, and despite how exhausted I was following the experience, I wouldn’t change anything. The NSO experience is unlike anything else at Georgetown, and I would encourage everyone to apply to be an OA.

It sounds like you really enjoyed your NSO experience, are there any other ways you engage with first-year students on campus?

It’s funny you ask that because I’m also part of the ESCAPE program. ESCAPE is a first-year and transfer-student overnight, secular retreat that founded in the Ignatian tradition of reflection. ESCAPE is a great way for students to get off a campus for 27 hours and relax away from the hecticness of the Hilltop. I serve as an ESCAPE leader, so I basically help co-lead the retreat with my cohort of co-leaders. We provide a safe environment in which students can be vulnerable, but also just have fun with a random group of students they have most likely never met before.

ESCAPE was a cool way to continue the mentorship I had developed during NSO, and it’s a great way to personally get off campus as an upperclassman. I never did ESCAPE as a freshman, so one of the reasons why I applied to be a leader was to get that experience – lucky for me, I get to have four ESCAPE experiences as a Senior.

Ndeye Ndiaye, COL ’18, with Fr. Greg Schenden, S.J.

Reflecting on your experiences this past summer, did you learn anything new?

The biggest thing I learned about myself this summer is how resilient I am. I won’t go into the nuances of my summer, but it was very difficult. There were moments where I didn’t know what the future would entail, despite how much I tried to shape things in the direction I wanted them to go. Yet, here I am.

I’m a bit shocked at how I was able to remain as optimistic as I was. Having entered my final year at Georgetown, I reflect on everything I have experienced and what I have encountered over these last couple years, and this resilience has been a central piece of myself that has remained consistent. I’m really curious as to how the lessons I have learned will shape my future and how I encounter life post-Georgetown. There is truly nothing else like being a Georgetown student, and I hope everyone graduates knowing that they will be able to attain anything they put their mind to.

This is your senior year, what advice would you give to your freshman self?

Breathe. Breathe. Breathe. Follow your passions, and follow what YOU want to pursue. Coming into college with preconceived notions of what you should study can be hard, but just know that pursuing your passions will provide you with great rewards. Focus on developing who you are and figuring out what you need and who you need yourself to be in order to make it through this stage of your life. Take every experience, positive or negative, as a lesson and grow from it.

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