Recently, Mission in Motion focused on the Hoya Professional 30 as a cherished annual milestone in the life of the School of Continuing Studies. Tropaia, a yearly ceremony that honors the outstanding contributions and accomplishments of members of the SCS community, is another ceremonial mark on the calendar that invites us to celebrate together and reflect on the deeper purpose of a Georgetown education (you can view a recording of the event).
Typically hosted in historic Gaston Hall, the pandemic made this year’s Tropaia Ceremony a virtual event. But SCS Dean Kelly Otter, noting that this virtual setting is not what we traditionally envision for the celebration, lifted up how an online ceremony helps us appreciate the extraordinary ways that students, faculty, and staff have cultivated habits of leadership, excellence, and mutual support during the pandemic.
Reverend Ebony Grisom, Interim Director of Protestant Christian Ministry, provided a sacred introduction to the proceedings. Rev. Grisom affirmed that, despite the challenges of this past academic year, there is joy in the journey. She called upon the many diverse ways that our community names God and reminded us that we all share deeply in the mission that animates the Spirit of Georgetown. Our students, faculty, and staff, Rev. Grisom remarked, show consistent commitment to serve their diverse communities with compassion and respect, goodness, justice, and love. This prayerful context expanded a sense of gratitude about how the night’s honorees have exemplified the leadership that the world needs now more than ever before.
One of the signature honors presented at Tropaia is the Spirit of Georgetown Award, which is given to a graduating student, alumna, or alumnus who exemplifies Georgetown’s Jesuit values of people in service to others, commitment to justice and the common good, intellectual openness, and leadership. This is a highlight in the work of mission integration at SCS because it brings together a faculty and staff committee to more deeply reflect on our Jesuit values and how the award nominees have made Georgetown’s mission a part of who they are and who they have become as a result of their SCS education.
This year’s award went to Jocelyn Law-Yone, or Chef JoJo, who is a 2018 graduate of the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies. Chef JoJo emigrated to the United States from Burma in 1970 and has made her life about welcoming others by bringing people together over food, friendship, and hospitality. After two decades of teaching English and AP Art History, she opened a Burmese restaurant in Washington, D.C., and has won top awards in the restaurant industry. More than serving food, JoJo’s restaurant Thamee has gained attention for its intentional commitments to racial and social justice. You can read more about her work in these articles in The Washington Post, Zagat, and DC Eater.
Former Jesuit Superior General Peter-Hans Kolvenbach once said that “the real measure of our Jesuit universities lies in who our students become.” Given that so many of our SCS students are adult learners well into their personal and professional lives, I would slightly amend this criterion to “who our students are becoming” because all of us, especially adults, are always engaged in dynamic processes of ongoing growth and development. This year’s Tropaia highlighted the many ways that SCS students, faculty, and staff are contributing their gifts to realize personal and social transformation needed to meet the demands of today.