Sebghatullah Ebrahimi ‘10L: Compliance Officer with Relief International Six years after receiving an LL.M. degree from W&L Law, Sebghatullah Ebrahimi has returned to the U.S. to continue his legal career with an international humanitarian organization in Washington, D.C.
Sebghatullah Ebrahimi was one of two Afghan law students who came to W&L Law in 2009 to complete a Masters in U.S. Law degree, hoping that exposure to U.S. laws and legal systems would help stabilize his home country’s legal sector. Now, after six years, Ebrahimi is back in the U.S., and recently began work for Relief International, a humanitarian, non-profit agency providing emergency relief, rehabilitation, and development assistance to victims of natural disasters and civil conflicts.
Ebrahimi and fellow student Mohammad Asif Ehsan came to the U.S. in 2009 under the auspices of the Public-Private Partnership for Justice Reform in Afghanistan, a joint effort between the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs and the American legal community. Ebrahimi previously worked in Afghanistan with the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality as a program officer and with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID’s) Land Titling and Economic Restructuring in Afghanistan program as a senior legal advisor.
“Getting the chance to further my legal knowledge at W&L School of Law was a great opportunity to expand my legal expertise and the first step to build my international career experience,” says Ebrahimi. “At W&L I interacted with students from different cultures and I was able to learn a lot.”
After completing his L.L.M. degree at W&L Law, Ebrahimi returned home where he resumed work with the United Nations and the USAID, managing multi-million dollar rule of law, law reform and human rights projects. However, because of security challenges, he was compelled to leave Afghanistan and move to the U.S.
Ebrahimi has eleven years of experience with the UN, USAID, NGOs and government. He has extensive expertise in coordinating and planning multi-million dollar grants and contracts from design to implementation, as well as monitoring and evaluating projects from a compliance perspective. Most of his experience has been in the field, especially in Afghanistan, and focused on human rights, law reform, humanitarian efforts and development.
In late 2015, because of security challenges that he faced, he emigrated to the U.S. with his family. He recently started working for Relief International as a Grants and Contracts Officer dealing with compliance issues in Asian, including Afghanistan. Working for a worldwide, non-profit organization in the heart of Washington, D.C. has been a dream job for Ebrahimi.
“It was quite challenging to find a decent position that would match with my qualifications, expertise and legal knowledge,” says Ebrahimi. “The process of getting this job was very competitive, but it is a challenging and rewarding position.”
In the years to come, Ebrahimi plans to obtain a J.D. degree as he continues his quest to become a notable U.S.-trained lawyer.
The Voice of the Maritime Aquarium Marketing maven Tina Tison ’95 is inspired by tradition and innovation.
The balance of tradition and innovation was appealing to Tina Tison when she first learned about Washington and Lee University. The strength of its heritage spoke to Tison, who grew up in a family with strong religious, cultural and ethnic traditions. The university was just a few years into coeducation when she visited the campus as a high school junior. “Before I made the trip, I was fascinated by the concept of a place so steeped in tradition embracing such a dramatic change,” she said.
The visit was a seminal moment for Tison. “It was love at first sight,” she said of first seeing the university – the only place she applied to.
As director of marketing for The Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk, Connecticut, Tison has continued to employ the balance of traditional and progressive thinking as the foundational principle of her career and personal life.
At home, both she and husband, Joe ’95, keep family traditions alive, while creating their own unique traditions with their children.
In her professional life, she used her journalism degree as a springboard to a job in the advertising business after graduation. Beginning with agency icon Young & Rubicam, she moved during the next 10 years to two other powerhouse agencies — Ogilvy & Mather and Grey Worldwide in New York City — before moving to a small, entrepreneurial firm in Connecticut.
The three large, New York City-based agencies “were time-tested and attracted fantastic brands as clients,” she said, citing P&G, Kraft, Campbell’s Soup and ConAgra Foods. “It was so fulfilling to be learning and advancing my career with those projects and brands.” Her efforts were rewarded with multiple Effie Awards for advertising effectiveness.
As her family life became more Connecticut based, Tison “found an opportunity to take everything I learned and go to a small ad agency, where the clients were entertainment brands.” At Media Storm in Norwalk, Connecticut, she worked with such clients as FX, Food Network and ABC Family, leading integrated consumer marketing efforts that broke network and industry records for ratings.
The entrepreneurial culture of Media Storm was “fantastically rewarding,” said Tison. Entertainment brands are water cooler topics, and both the entertainment and ad industries were going through many changes. When she began, there was no Netflix, streaming-TV shows or On Demand. “There were some familiar challenges and some new challenges. It was a balancing act of using proven best practices and experimenting with new ideas to stay relevant.”
Media Storm had an advantageous location as well, sitting directly across the street from The Maritime Aquarium — rated the top aquarium in New England. Tison’s family became regular visitors to the aquarium and her children – Samantha, 10, and Trey, 7 – participated in camps and in-depth educational programs there.
When she happened to spot a job announcement for a marketing director on the aquarium’s website, she “ran at it with enthusiasm reminiscent of my first visit to W&L. I knew where I was meant to be,” she said.
At the nonprofit aquarium, Tison is part of the senior staff and leads everything from press releases to advertising. She and her team also execute monthly visitor events and all promotional messages to support those events. They also constitute the digital voice of the aquarium on social media and the website.
“The aquarium is a remarkable institution,” Tison said. “It has a strong heritage of education and animal husbandry.” The aquarium’s mission is to educate visitors about and to create stewards for Long Island Sound. Visitors can get close to more than 250 species native to the sound and its watershed, including sharks, seals, sea turtles, river otters, jellyfish and other animals. Tison said her goal is “doing great by doing good,” and her current role fulfills that every day. “I feel so honored to be the voice of the aquarium, its mission and all of the species in our care.”
At W&L, Tison was guided by the “entire team of professors at Reid Hall. They were incredibly influential to me.” She had always been a book enthusiast and loved the power of words in literature and poetry. However, it was her journalism professors, including her advisor, Bob de Maria, who “inspired me in class and conversations with the power of words in their most succinct format. I learned to be as effective as possible in the shortest form.”
That lesson served her well as an advertising executive. While watching 30-second TV or digital ads or driving 70 miles-an-hour past a billboard, consumers don’t have much time to absorb a message. “Ads have to be succinct yet dynamic,” said Tison. “In today’s world, there is less time and more noise.”
Outside of class, Tison was a charter member and officer of the university’s Pi Beta Phi sorority and held leadership roles with the yearbook, Super Dance and Fancy Dress Ball. She also held down a job in the dining hall.
Although she and Joe, a vice president at a financial technology company, graduated together, both came from Connecticut and had mutual friends, they didn’t connect as a couple until meeting again at an alumni gathering in New York City two years after graduation. Now together 20 years — 15 as a married couple — they enjoy taking their children to visit W&L and sharing the university’s traditions.
“Washington and Lee was such a special place and experience for both Joe and me. Love of W&L is one of our favorite traditions to celebrate and pass along to our kids.”
Matt Lubas: Engineering Community Development Meet Matt Lubas '18, an engineer who spends his spare time building communities.
“The projects in Fries represent not only my interests, but also the mission of the club: employing engineering solutions to create a positive impact on developing communities.”
From the moment I got to W&L, I knew I wanted to get involved with Engineering Community Development (ECD, formerly Engineers Without Borders). I love to travel, and I wanted to incorporate my passions for engineering and Spanish together. During my first year, I participated in as many ECD events as possible, building a bio-sand water filtration unit near campus garden, teaching kids how to make concrete at the Virginia Science Festival in town, and manning the sign-up table for the Chipotle Fundraiser.
From participating, I gained some hard skills, such as the ability to make concrete, woodworking, and skills with tools. However, more powerful has been the development of my soft skills: community engagement, empathy, communication, and an interest in creating sustainable projects. Outside of the club, I enjoyed thinking critically about poverty-related issues, which led to declaring a poverty studies minor, and learning about how companies, nonprofits, and startups are using engineering to improve people’s quality of life.
During my Sophomore Reading Days in 2015, I led a group of students to work in the Community Center in Fries, Virginia. Located two and half hours from Lexington, the small town of about 600 people wanted to promote its sense of community through the town Community Center. Through talking with the Community Center director and volunteers, we learned about the town’s needs and worked inside the theater, removing old siding and tarps on the walls. When we came back a year later, it was heartwarming to see that the theater had continued to develop and was being used for community bluegrass jam sessions.
This year, we returned to Fries for another Reading Days weekend to build up part of the dam for the water treatment center. We mixed and laid mortar and local rocks on the dam, which has helped improve the pressure and water flow to the water treatment center. We also helped out at the concession stand during the kids’ football game and painted the inside of the dining hall for a community center. These trips have allowed me to discover things about myself: my tendency to lead, my grounded enthusiasm, and my passion and joy for engaging with people to help them achieve their goals.
The projects in Fries represent not only my interests, but also the mission of the club: employing engineering solutions to create a positive impact on developing communities. As I came into my junior year as co-president of ECD, I wanted to expand the focus of our club. The club has always been very focused on water and sanitation issues, but I have been trying to expand the projects and impact to Biomedical Engineering through an Engineering World Health partnership and a Solar Sterilization Unit design project. I wanted all students to realize that they could have a tangible impact, no matter their field of interest.
I am looking into international development engineering as a vocation, and it is something I hope my engagement in ECD will prepare me for. I hope to impact W&L students through sharing my passion for community development and engagement, and I want to promote students — especially in engineering — towards futures that improve the lives of those in need locally and internationally.
If you know a W&L student who would be a great profile subject, tell us about it! Nominate them for a web profile.
A little more about Matt
Why did you choose your major?
I have always been interested in science and math and problem-solving, so the engineering major seemed like the best fit for combining my interests. As for my poverty studies minor, I loved the critical thinking aspect of finding appropriate ideas and solutions related to poverty.
What professor has inspired you?
Oh gosh, it’s too hard to narrow down just one. Jon Erickson keeps me hustling and looking down “rabbit holes” for new opportunities and knowledge. Howard Pickett keeps me pensive and mindful of my studies and service. Kim Hodge and Joel Kuehner have both been awesome at encouraging my “out-there” ideas and letting me run with it. There are so many great faculty members on campus.
What’s your personal motto?
Smile. Enjoy. Challenge. Reflect. Grow.
What’s your favorite song right now?
I have been really loving Chance the Rapper, so probably “Somewhere in Paradise.” I have always been a fan of rap since I thought I was a baller in middle school, but I love the positivity in Chance’s songs.
Best place to eat in Lexington? What do you order?
Mano Taqueria, hands down. I get the burrito bowl with no dairy, ancho sauce, and whatever meat they have special that week (rabbit, goat, lamb, duck, etc).
What do you wish you’d known before you came to campus?
That it is never too early to start going for amazing opportunities and take on leadership. Professors and upperclassmen love to see students interested in the things they do, and can show you more ways to get involved right away.
Right now, I’m looking into Fellowships like Fulbright, Peace Corps, Princeton in Latin America/Africa/Asia, LUCE. I hope to have a career in International Development through biomedical engineering.
Favorite W&L memory:
Dancing my heart out at a Red Square Band Party with my girlfriend, Kate, after eating delicious food prepared by Jimmy. Or the moment while leading the Pre-O trip when everyone in the group comes together and becomes friends with each other.
Rock climbing and paddling gym classes with James Dick.
Favorite W&L event:
Homecoming is always a great time!
Favorite campus landmark:
Aesthetically, Lee Chapel. But if I have to meet anyone, it’s got to be the IQ center.
What’s your passion?
Communicating, engaging, traveling, and working with people from around the world to help improve the lives of others with engineering.
What’s something people wouldn’t guess about you?
I write down my goals and the habits I want to develop every day .
Quick Hits: Moroccan Tea with Fulbright Scholar and Foreign Language TA Imad Baazizi
“Before coming to the United States, I thought I would learn more about the American culture. But I’ve actually started to understand things I didn’t know or took for granted about my heritage, because I didn’t have the chance to see my own background from the outside.” Imad Baazizi, Fulbright Scholar and Arabic Foreign Language Teaching Assistant
Ancient Tablet is ‘Exquisite in its Simplicity’ In the first installment of this new series, Tom Camden offers the story of a Sumerian clay tablet that is the oldest recorded document in W&L's Special Collections.
Welcome to “Out of the Vault,” a brand new series in The Columns that will highlight the many fascinating objects in Special Collections at Leyburn Library. Through the ages, Washington and Lee University has been a trusted steward of important documents; today, it is home to many rare books, manuscripts and other intriguing finds.
Some of these items are on display for the campus community and visitors to see, while others are currently housed in the vault. In addition, the university frequently acquires new objects for Special Collections. In monthly installments written by Special Collections staff, “Out of the Vault” will tell the stories of some of these items, from the oldest objects to the most exciting new acquisitions.
If this subject matter is of interest to you, you may enjoy our other new series, “From the Collections,” about items in the University Collections of Art and History. New installments in these series will appear monthly in The Columns.
Quite plain, yet exquisite in its simplicity, the tiny clay object lies nestled in its recently crafted, elegant custom-made protective enclosure.
This Sumerian clay tablet is one of Washington and Lee University’s most intriguing treasures, and the oldest recorded document in the collection. It dates from 2030 BCE and resides in the vault in Leyburn Library’s Special Collections, where it has been housed since it was given to W&L in 1983 by Jean Knight of Buena Vista. Her husband, Benjamin P. Knight Jr., was a 1929 graduate of the university.
The little clay tablet, which measures 1 ½ inch by 1 3/4 inch, is from the southern Mesopotamian (Iraq) city of Ur (Ur of the Chaldees). Written in Sumerian, it is just over 4,000 years old. The form of writing is known as cuneiform (wedge-shaped), and was, at the time, the only type of writing that was known. Cuneiform was invented in the same area because of the prevalence of clay and reeds, which were used to make the tablet and stylus and form the characters.
The tablet itself is a commercial document and relates to the distribution of wheat to certain individuals. Because it references specific rulers of Ur, we are able to determine its date of origin. From the Sumerian King Lists, it is known who ruled Ur during this last century of the Third Millennium BCE, and two of the five kings of this Ur dynasty are actually mentioned in Washington and Lee’s tablet. The kings who had their capital at Ur, which is well known to biblical scholars as the home of Abraham, had a uniform method of keeping the record, as is evidenced by the tablet. Abraham himself would have been familiar with the wedge-shaped cuneiform writing in which all business and official correspondence was then conducted.
While Washington and Lee’s tablet records the distribution of wheat, many similar tablets recorded the tax on grain and other products, or provided instructions to priests or temple servants. Others were contracts, lists of sacrifices, or records of the payment of salaries from temple stipends. Still others were inventories of sheep and goats, and some were records of payments made to messengers who traveled from city to city.
Sumerian tablets are molded from clay that contains a great deal of marl or chalk and was relatively free from grit. After the cuneiform characters were marked in the damp clay by a scribe, the tablet was then sun-baked or kiln-dried. These tablets would have to be periodically re-fired, or baked even harder, in order to be preserved.
This lends another intriguing and powerful aspect to W&L’s tablet, which was recovered from ancient ruins. About 24 years after the tablet was created, the Sumerian government experienced a rapid collapse, possibly brought on by famine. In 2006 BCE, southern Mesopotamia was invaded by the Elamites from southern Iran, who attacked Ur, took the last king captive and burned the city of Ur to the ground. One side of W&L’s tablet shows the very distinctive scorch marks of that burning.
The Sumerians disappeared forever. However, the tiny clay tablet that remains is a poignant reminder that the fires of destruction that destroyed Ur likely ensured the preservation of Washington and Lee’s oldest document.
Click here to watch a video about this tablet.
Marina Silva is Keynote Speaker of Brazilian Economy in the 21st Century, a Faculty Colloquium
Brazilian Economy in the 21st Century, a faculty colloquium on Brazil, will be held at Washington and Lee University on Feb. 3-5. The first talk of the colloquium is in Northen Auditorium, Leyburn Library. The rest is in the Hillel House Multipurpose Room.
The keynote speaker is Marina Silva, Brazilian environmentalist and politician. Her talk is Feb. 4 at 4:15 p.m. in the Hillel House. The colloquium is free and open to the public with limited seating.
The conference will examine the obstacles and challenges facing Brazil as the country seeks to advance its economy and the quality of life of its citizens. It is sponsored by the Center for Global Learning with the support of the Christian A. Johnson Endeavor Foundation.
Silva was the minister of environment of Brazil from 2003 to 2008. She has been a member of Brazil’s National Assembly since 1994.
As a native Amazonian and a senator, she built support for environmental protection of the reserves, as well as for social justice and sustainable development in the Amazon region.
As Minister of Environment, Silva took drastic measures to protect the Amazon forest, clamping down on illegal activity, and reducing deforestation by almost 60 percent from 2004 to 2007.
She also helped establish the Amazon Fund, preventing greenhouse gas emissions through rainforest conservation. The fund is financed by national and international contributions.
In 2008, Silva resigned as minister of the environment, citing “the increasing resistance in central parts of government and the society.” She continues her struggle from her place in the National Assembly and still has great influence on environmental policy in Brazil.
In 1996, Silva won the Goldman Environmental Prize for South and Central America, which honors grassroots environmental activists. In 2007, the United Nations Environment Program named her one of the Champions of the Earth, which recognizes outstanding environmental leaders at a policy level. In 2014, she was named one of its Women of the Year by the British newspaper Financial Times.
For more information about the conference and a list of the speakers, see here or visit: https://www.wlu.edu/center-for-international-education/events/conference-on-the-brazilian-economy-in-the-21st-century.
Poverty, Mental Health and Public Policy — Canadian Style Professor Tim Diette testified before the Canadian House of Commons’ Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities.
Harry E. and Mary Jayne W. Redenbaugh Term Associate Professor of Economics, acting head of the Economics Department, faculty member of the Africana Studies Program and the Shepherd Poverty Program. He will become the associate dean of the Williams School of Commerce, Economics and Politics on July 1, 2017.
Principles of Microeconomics
Urban Education: Poverty, Ethnicity and Policy
Economics of Education
Q: You recently testified before the Canadian House of Commons’ Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities. How did you end up in the Great White North, and what did the committee want to know?
Yes, I landed in Ottawa in a snowstorm. My ancestors are from Quebec, which is right over the border from Ottawa, and I grew up in Vermont, so it was a bit of a homecoming for me.
My long-time collaborator and colleague, Art Goldsmith, and I had published, along with two other co-authors, a book chapter that focused on unemployment and mental health, and I think that work caught their eye. The Canadian standing committee was exploring poverty-reduction strategies and realized another issue they needed to consider as a contributing factor to poverty was adverse psychological consequences related to unemployment.
Before I flew up, I spent some time listening to audios of previous meetings and reading prior minutes and briefs. I could tell that the committee was examining unemployment from a number of perspectives and was interested in what factors lead to poverty.
Q: Who else joined you as expert witnesses?
I was the only American. I was joined by the president of McMaster Children’s Hospital and a doctor who worked in the hospital’s Child and Youth Mental Health Program. The third person was the executive director of Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada. We were each allowed an opening statement, followed by 100 minutes of lively questioning by the committee members. The other experts’ testimony built upon what I said, and we ended up covering a wide range of issues contributing to poor mental health, different levels of educational attainment, employment, and general well-being including drawing on other research with Art Goldsmith that examines effects of stalking, sexual abuse and violence in the home and the community.
In my opening statement, I focused on describing recent work that examined the impact of short-term unemployment of 26 weeks or less on mental health compared to longer spells of unemployment. It appears as though shorter bouts of unemployment are not particularly harmful. It tends to become more of a problem if a person is out of a job six months or longer. I also pointed out that that the negative effects of long-term unemployment are larger for blacks and Latinos, as well as among the more highly educated.
As I discussed the findings for my research, I also reminded policy makers that my conclusions are based on U.S. data. The impact of unemployment on mental health might be different in Canada — and even among different communities in Canada — which has a more robust set of social services to cushion the impact of joblessness. I took all the lessons I tell my students about being cautious in interpreting results from papers and put it into practice before the committee.
I also gave credit to the Shepherd Poverty Program for informing some of the testimony I was about to give. The program has given me the chance to interact in an interdisciplinary environment, to think more broadly than my traditional training might have led me to think, particularly the importance of sociology, philosophy and psychology and how much those disciplines play a role in economics.
It was one of the more rewarding professional experiences of my career. Nothing beats my great interactions with my students, but outside the teaching component, it’s exciting to see the ivory-tower research potentially be used to improve the lives of citizens. As a scholar, it’s why I do what I do.
Q: You’re team-teaching a class with the W&L Teacher Education program this spring.
This is the class on Urban Education — which also satisfies requirements for the Shepherd Poverty Program minor — where students will spend time in the schools in Chesterfield County, near Richmond. It will combine both the economics of education and views from the Teacher Education program with a service-learning component. I think looking at education from these two perspectives will generate a much richer conversation about education policy.
Q: You’re also developing a new Spring Term class that travels to Denmark.
I’m excited to be team-teaching this class with Haley Sigler, director of teacher education at W&L, which will explore childhood in Denmark. We’ll be doing a mini-practicum in the schools, where our students will teach a small lesson and visit with public and private schools in Copenhagen and also rural communities on the Jutland. They’ll also meet with a welfare board that deals with issues of school, child care and other family policies.
I want the students to be thinking about economic policy that supports childhood education. How does Denmark pay for and manage early childhood education and child care? What are the requirements for teacher licensure? How much testing should there be? These questions are very similar to what we ask ourselves in the U.S.
We may also visit an Islamic school so we can better understand the ethnic, racial, religious and cultural differences there. Denmark has excellent social services, but as a homogenous society that is dealing with an influx of immigrants, they are asking themselves if they want their taxes to be going to people who are different from them. In many ways, it’s not all that different from the questions we’re asking ourselves here in the U.S.
W&L BLSA Goes National A Q&A with Maureen Edobor, Attorney General for NBLSA
Maureen Edobor ‘17L, from Dallas, is a graduate of the University of Texas. Before attending law school, she worked as a national field fellow for the Alliance for Citizenship, an organization that promotes fair immigration reform. This year, she is serving as the attorney general for the National Black Law Students Association. In this Q&A, Edobor talks about how she got involved with BLSA and pursued a leadership position at the national level.
When did you first learn about BLSA?
I actually had not heard about BLSA until I was admitted and the admissions office put me touch with a current student, Hernandez Stroud ‘15L. I knew W&L was a great law school with successful alumni all over the country, but knowing there was this affinity group I could be a part of was really important in my decision to attend W&L. I didn’t get that kind of connection from any other school.
What role does BLSA serve at W&L?
BLSA is an organization that strives to create culturally responsible and academically adept law students who can go out and do great things in the community. On the campus level, we provide mentoring to new students about academics and career opportunities, and we also plan social events. In addition, we encourage students to get involved with the regional and national organization through community service projects as well as moot court and mock trial competitions.
Teams from W&L have made the national finals every year since we began competing, and we were the 2015 national champions in mock trial. Next month we will send two mock trial and two moot court teams to the regional competition in Pittsburg and then hopefully on to the national finals in Houston.
How did you get involved with NBLSA?
When I was a 1L, my mentor Jasmine Brooks ‘15L encouraged me to apply for a position with the national organization. I was named the Virginia sub-regional director and basically served as a liaison between all the BLSA chapters in Virginia, planning community service projects and an academic retreat for 1Ls.
I decided to run for the national office of attorney general the next year because I felt it would a great professional development opportunity. Many of the law students to hold this position go on to advocacy careers on Capitol Hill, which is my ultimate career objective. I ran against three other people for the position, and in addition to filling out a lengthy application, I had to give a speech and participate in a debate at the national convention.
What projects have you worked on as NBLSA’s attorney general?
The attorney general is basically the advocacy voice of organization. I have worked on policy statements about issues that are important to black community, and I coauthored an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in Buck v Davis, a case involving racial bias. I planned panel discussions for the Congressional Black Caucus convention and press conferences in conjunction with national executive board meetings in different cities. I have also worked on several public comments to regulatory bodies on such issues as the new ABA rule on bar passage, wireless availability in public housing and raising the age of majority. The position covers a wide swath of areas and requires a tremendous amount of work.
What are your plans following law school?
I am currently in the running for two fellowships, one with a criminal justice reform organization in St. Louis and another with the Poverty and Race Research Action Council. I have also accepted a judicial clerkship with Judge Pam White ‘77L in Baltimore City Circuit Court. I am happy to have options.
Students Travel to Women’s March on Washington W&L students reflect on their experiences at the Women's March.
On Sat. Jan 21, two busloads of students traveled to D.C. to participate in the Women’s March on Washington. We asked them to reflect on what the experience meant to them. Here’s what a few of them had to say.
The day before, another group of students attended the inauguration of Donald Trump, and you can read about their experiences (and watch an interview with them) here.
Hailey Glick ’18
I marched because our country’s history is filled with the strong, powerful voices of women, and I refuse to let their legacy turn to silence. I am very privileged in that I was raised by a patriotic military father and a hard-working mother who have instilled in me the values of kindness, courage and good citizenship, who have helped me grow into my voice, and who have always supported me in my every endeavor.
Democracy is a beautiful mess. The March didn’t exactly end up happening as originally planned because the organizers wrote the permit not knowing how many people were actually going to show up. They were overwhelmed when their expected 200,000 turned into half a million. There was no denying the flood of hope which filled the streets that day.
I’ve signed up to participate in the 100 days/10 actions campaign sponsored by the organizers of the March. And I’ve vowed not to remain silent when it comes to any issue I feel strongly about over the next four years. The March may be over, but the fight is ongoing.
Stephanie Williams ’18
I marched on Washington to make explicitly clear right off the bat my expectations for Donald Trump’s conduct moving forward as our president. If he follows through on his apparent intentions to infringe upon my civil rights and the rights of any of my fellow Americans, especially those most marginalized in our society, it will not be tolerated.
It is so easy in this country to feel powerless. The best part about our democracy is also the worst part about our democracy: it’s a process. We pass laws and then repeal them and debate and veto and argue in circles all in the hopes that if we shove back and forth consistently and ardently, we will all push each other to be the best we can be, and ultimately making this country the best it can be.
And to those who did not march, I challenge you to rise to the occasion. Don’t dismiss us as soft-hearted liberals or radicals or assume that we similarly disparage you. Don’t fall back on prejudicial denunciations. And if you disagree, either with us or with your fellow conservatives, don’t hesitate to speak up. Challenge us. Challenge each other. Democracy needs active participation to survive, to be successful. We don’t have to agree, that’s not the point. We just have to try.
Virginia Kettles ’19
I was in Washington, D.C., crushed among the hundreds of thousands of protesters of all different backgrounds and ethnicities, people coming from literally all over the world to march. Everyone packed together, a solid mass of colors and noise, making a tide toward the White House.
I met a bearded man with a jean jacket who flew in all the way from Australia to march with us in protest of a president that was not even his own.
I met a teenage girl with long dreadlocks that fell down her back, who told me about the racial slurs she had been called at her university.
I met a young man with an American flag he had painted himself, a splash of rainbow colors bright against the overcast sky.
There was the feminist Gloria Steinem, who spoke of the power of the people, filmmaker Michael Moore pushing for citizens to exercise their rights by writing to their representatives, actress Scarlett Johansson speaking out to Trump, asking for his support for her and all men and women like her.
Hours later, my friends and I made our way back towards the buses to head back towards our university. We were exhausted, but incredibly satisfied.
We had witnessed history that day.
Julie Malone ’18
My favorite sign I saw during the March was inspired by the Broadway show, “Hamilton,” and featured Alexander Hamilton wearing a pussy hat. I believe the show really captures the spirit of the American Revolution and is an incredibly applicable symbol to the contemporary fight for equality, especially given the intersectional nature of the musical’s writing and casting.
Nora Devlin ’19
I marched because I am determined to fight back against Donald Trump’s presidency. His hatred, bigotry and potential legislation are incredibly hurtful, and I refuse to stand for it. I want to stand up for what I believe, and the March on Washington was a peaceful and effective way to do so. I am afraid for our country, for my rights and for the rights and lives of those less privileged than me — I plan to continue to make my voice heard and spread a message of equality.
I plan on reaching out to representatives to demand protection for my reproductive rights. We will also be organizing events on campus to raise money for Planned Parenthood, raise awareness about political policy decisions and send postcards to our representatives about issues that are important to us.
Foifon Teawdatwan ’19
After the election, when I realized the person in the White House and his cabinet nominations did not reflect my views of equality and social justice, I decided to act. I marched for my family, friends and fellow human beings who are under attack under the new administration, showing people that together we are never alone.
Democracy lies not in the White House, but in the people. My favorite sign was “You Can’t Comb Over Ignorance.”
I plan on joining ASA, the new student organization dedicated to student activism.
Rossella Gabriele ’19
(Read her full op-ed in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
I marched because with every tweet and comment about how minorities (comprising roughly 40 percent of the nation) are ruining our country, you are attacking my family, friends, neighbors and classmates.
Mr. Trump, I didn’t vote for you, but you are now my president, as well as the president for the hundreds of thousands of women (and men) who marched for the causes that you have threatened through your rhetoric, promises and Twitter account.
Two months ago, I knocked door to door and made call after call on behalf of Hillary, because I knew she would fight for my rights and my future. Yesterday, I marched to knock on your door, the White House, and now I call on you because you must defend my rights and my future. I am America’s women, scientists, students, children and minorities—and all that I ask is that you be our president, too.
Elena R. Diller ’17
I marched out of anger and helplessness, though neither of those feelings are productive nor sustainable over the next four years. I was looking for an outlet to express my support of others who feel similarly, particularly marginalized groups such as LGTBQ, Muslims, blacks and immigrants.
I had no idea that I would feel so positive during the March. I was overwhelmed with feeling supported and loved by the strangers around me and around the world. Much of my negativity subsided and became positive feelings of resistance. My favorite sign was held by a young toddler which said, “I love naps but I stay woke.”
I am calling my senators and representatives in the House every day with a list of bills that I want them to either vote for or vote against. Additionally, I hope to continue volunteering at Project Horizon, showing my support for marginalized groups by wearing BLM T-shirts or LGTBQ positive T-shirts and speaking out in classes about my beliefs.
On Capitol Hill: Marc Short ’92 to Join Trump’s Staff President Donald Trump has picked Marc Short '92 to lead his legislative efforts in Congress.
A story in Politico notes that President Donald Trump has picked Marc Short, a 1992 graduate of Washington and Lee University, to lead his legislative efforts in Congress. He served as Vice President Mike Pence’s advisor during the 2016 presidential campaign.
The article describes Marc as having a “sharp eye for strategy” and “street cred in all factions of the GOP conference.”
Marc has worked as chief of staff for Kay Bailey Hutchison, when she was governor of Texas and then senator; as chief of staff 2009–2011 for the House Republican Conference under Pence, who was its chairman; for Oliver North’s 1994 senate campaign; and for Sen. Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign.
Josh Hock, the chief of staff at the Department of Commerce (and a Democrat) noted of Marc, “He’s a good listener, he’s not a bombastic guy at all. He listens, and when I think of Marc, he listens intently and he hears you. We may not always agree, but I know that he’s heard me.”