Home > News & Events > Living Georgetown
Living Georgetown shares a collection of alumni profiles and testimonials that exemplify the lives and work of Georgetown alumni. The stories reflect the cycle of Georgetown's influence – how alumni have been inspired by Georgetown and how they, in turn, have perpetuated in their own lives the university's commitment to service, dialogue and spiritual and intellectual curiosity.
As President DeGioia has said, "These stories illustrate the influence that the Georgetown experience has on our graduates…our university's enduring heritage of faith, scholarship, and service... and the impact that members of our community continue to make as women and men for others."
We invite you to read these stories and celebrate the many ways in which the Georgetown experience extends through the lives of alumni.
We welcome suggestions of other alumni to profile. Please e-mail their name and class year as well as a description of their story or why you recommend them to Christina Cauterucci, alumni communications manager, at email@example.com.
Felice Gorordo (C'05) co-founded Roots of Hope, a nonprofit that empowers Cuba's youth to become the authors of their own futures.
Claire Naylor (F'11) and Claire Charamnac (F'11) co-founded Women LEAD, a nonprofit that provides young women in Katmandu, Nepal, with the personal and professional skills to pursue their vision for change.
Maurice Jackson (G'95, '01) uses decades of experience as a civil rights organizer in his teaching of the history of global movements to abolish slavery.
Jess Rimington (F'09) founded One World Youth Project, a nonprofit that uses a university fellowship program to link middle schools in different countries through cross-cultural experiential learning.
Mariana Cotlear (F'07) and Lauren Cioffi (C'10) bring their passions for healthy food practices to FoodCorps, a new division of Americorps devoted to promoting sustainable, healthy eating habits among our nation's youth.
Inspired by his parents' example as educators and driven by a desire to help people, Matthew Tosiello left the public relations and marketing field and went back to school to get his master's in secondary education with a concentration in teaching English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). Tosiello says that his upbringing at a traditional Jesuit high school and at Georgetown prepared him for his career switch. "Jesuit schools like divergent thinking," Tosiello says. "They want questioning, they want reinvention."
Inspired by the School of Nursing & Health Studies' model of care and her own immigrant experience, Maria S. Gomez founded a clinic in Washington, D.C., to "change the paradigm for families in poverty" through health, social and educational services. "It is our responsibility to never give up, to never forget where we have been and to never turn our backs on the least fortunate among us," she says.
Organizing workers after the fall of an autocratic regime is risky business, but Mary Ann made it her life's work. She logged 19 years traveling across five continents, helping once-imprisoned activists rebuild their unions and training the poorest of laborers to negotiate for safe working conditions. Meeting Nelson Mandela and supporting Iraqi oil workers during the American occupation are just a few of her inspiring career highlights.
Motivated by a passion for justice and a deep connection to one of Washington, D.C.'s subsidized housing compounds, Manna Inc.'s director of advocacy Shiv Newaldass (C'03) organizes D.C. residents to lobby local policymakers for affordable housing programs. His ties to Georgetown formed long before he matriculated—in elementary school, Shiv was tutored by undergraduate Hoyas who kept him "in school and out of the streets."
Recent graduate Rebecca Shinners (C'09) spent her summer helping Cristo Rey Network students make the transition to campus life. It's just one of the many ways the Teach for America teacher, who works with special education students in Southeast Washington, D.C., is pursuing her passion for education reform. "I figured I couldn't take a job trying to change the schools or change what teachers were doing if I didn't actually do it myself," she says.
In Janne Kouri's native Finland, there is a word—sisu—that he says means "determination and perseverance and never giving up in the face of adversity and most of all not complaining." That special word, along with the friendships he formed and the strength he built as a football player at Georgetown, helped Janne persevere after suffering a serious spinal-cord injury in 2006. He not only has learned to walk with assistance since then, but he also has created a nonprofit corporation called NextStep Fitness so that others can do the same.
Colleen Scanlon (N'76, H'00) has applied her clinical, ethical and legal expertise to advancing the mission of Catholic health care—a career interest that took root at Georgetown. "The School of Nursing & Health Studies is where I became rooted in a passion for the nursing profession," she says. "And I continue to be dedicated to improving—and having a positive influence on—the profession and the health and well—being of individuals and communities in this country and globally."
Long interested in international politics, Jeremy Goldberg thrived at the School of Foreign Service and enjoyed the traditional Georgetown student internships at think tanks and on Capitol Hill. Yet he also set foot on an entrepreneurial pathway that has come to define his career, beginning with his experience as co-founder and first editor-in-chief of the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs.
After spending 21 years on Wall Street, Peter Croncota decided to transport his business skills into New York City classrooms. It was a career move that had its roots at Georgetown. "The great thing about studying business at Georgetown was that I developed strong, practical skills – but I didn't learn business in a vacuum," says Peter. "The exposure to everything my friends were doing outside of academics and the opportunities to get involved with civic work really made an impression on me."
Tom Lenehan understands value and investment, both financial and philosophical. As the youngest of eight children, he earned his spending money throughout high school by working as a caddy, bank teller and grocery bagger. When he received a scholarship to attend Georgetown, he took advantage of the financial freedom it afforded to determine his career path. And when he met Professor George Houston, Tom found a role model and mentor whose love of numbers and commitment to higher education laid the foundation for Tom's career managing nonprofit endowments.
Born and raised in San Rafael, California, Shannon Beitchman (C'03) was "hell-bent" on going to the East Coast for college, she says, because she wanted to experience different views and beliefs and explore who she was away from what she'd always known. At Georgetown, she says, "Being exposed to such a diversity of views really boosted my confidence because I was challenged to think about things in a new way." Now she, in turn, helps other young people open their minds and expand their knowledge by teaching them how to make healthy choices.
Ken Okoth grew up in Kibera, a huge, overpopulated slum in Nairobi, Kenya, lacking sufficient housing, running water and connection to the municipal sewage system or electric grid. He lived with his mother, Angeline, five siblings and other family members in a 12-by-12-foot, one-room house, before earning scholarships to boarding school, college and, ultimately, Georgetown's graduate school. For more than five years as a Washington-area teacher and chairman of a foundation that uplifts Kenyan youth, he has helped expand, through education, the horizons of students who "work hard, don't give up and show that they deserve a chance to make a difference in their lives."
Rachel Bennett has exercised her gift for spanning distances and bridging gaps, literally and figuratively, since arriving at Georgetown from Anchorage, Alaska, in 1999. She grew up attending a strong public school – the norm, she says, in the Anchorage School District. Only after arriving at Georgetown, making friends who had attended private high schools and tutoring a first-grade class in an underprivileged Anacostia public school, did she begin to witness disparities in education – and opportunities for solutions.
California native Melody Rollins came to Georgetown so focused on becoming a diplomat that she passed up a full ride to Berkeley, plus a stipend, to attend the School of Foreign Service. Yet, one dream morphed into others as she explored the SFS curriculum and Georgetown's campus. As she discovered international economics and the After School Kids program, she began to build the foundations for her success in the financial world and her leadership in the Harlem community.
Kit Cooper has a passion for people and a talent for turning ideas into action. At Georgetown, those assets converged when he and a classmate built a class project into a full-fledged company and launched Kit's career as an entrepreneur.
Since the beginning of high school, Robert Kelly followed the fast track towards a career in medicine. When he applied to Georgetown College intent on the early admission program to Georgetown's School of Medicine, registered as a pre-med student and declared a biology major and chemistry minor, he prepared himself for the career of his dreams. Yet beyond the practical steps to success, Robert found meaningful lessons in unplanned experiences – writing his thesis, meeting stellar professors and learning from Jesuit values – that now regularly influence his work as a physician, professor and mentor.
When Alan Cohen arrived at Georgetown in 1971, he says, "it was a very foreign world to me. I was a Jewish, New York public school kid in a world of Catholic prepsters – I'd never seen a Top-Sider before!" Motivated by his classmates and the liberal arts curriculum, however, the seeming outsider found his element as a student and physician and discovered one particular, incredible gift that inspired a lifetime of learning and generosity.
When Aaron Shneyer (C'05) approaches conflict he looks through a musician's lens, viewing opportunities for collaboration, harmony and learning through sound. In young people he finds voices; in instruments, the tools for dialogue; and in his Fulbright-mtvU Fellowship, access to Jerusalem – his stage for communicating conflict resolution. Motivated by his successful fellowship and limitless ambition, Shneyer fosters peace among Israeli and Palestinian music students one ensemble at a time.
As a journalist, Erika Niedowski (C'95) has shadowed political campaigns, investigated tragic medical errors, explored the lingering debilitation of the Chernobyl explosion and lived in a crater of a dormant volcano. It may not be a comfortable career, but it's the perfect fit for Niedowski. The proof lies in every word of her captivating articles – and her nomination as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.
When Vicky Whyte (C'74) came to Georgetown from her native Brazil, she left her "very cushioned life" and began to see the world from a new perspective. "Georgetown expanded my awareness," she says. "It opened my eyes to the social differences and inequalities that exist." Years later, after achieving the highest position in her field as women's chair of the International Golf Federation from 2000 to 2006, she has used her prestige to address the inequalities she first witnessed as an undergraduate. "Since everybody knows me now," she says, local and multinational corporations support her mission to help nourish, educate and inspire impoverished Brazilian children through the game of golf.
When Jeff Mirel (B'00) took drum lessons as an adolescent "from an ethnomusicologist – a hip, crazy, avant-garde guy who played in a heavy metal jazz band," he began to develop his deep interest in and affection for music and the concept of producing and sharing art with a group. Fifteen years later, Mirel blends his obvious passion, steadfast ambition and business savvy to invigorate his community and aid others around the nation and the world.
As the co-chief of the Washington Post's London bureau, Mary Jordan (C'83) has recently interviewed luminaries like Paul McCartney, Vice President Al Gore and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair; reported from Cambodia and Nigeria; and dog sledded through the Arctic Circle. She co-authored a book, Prison Angel, with her husband and co-bureau chief, Kevin Sullivan. And in 2003, while reporting for the Post from Mexico City, she won the Pulitzer Prize for her reporting on the chaos of the Mexican criminal justice system.