Washington DC Gathering: A Bridge Between Past and Present

Dwight Hall Board member Ben Staub ’06 hosted a friendly gathering at the Motion Picture Association of America’s Living Room in Washington, D.C. on March 28, 2017.  Over 30 alumni and friends were in attendance to hear from current Dwight Hall student leaders. Laura Huizar ‘06 LAW ‘12 welcomed the audience and briefly reflected on how her Dwight Hall experiences prepared for her work as a staff attorney with the National Employment Law Project. While several attendees commented on the high quality of the students and the tremendous impact of their service and justice initiatives, the students came away with a newfound appreciation for the power of alumni networking.  A reflection from Serena Ly ‘20 follows.

Think D.C. and you envision the pomp and circumstance of a nation’s capital and the rigid, fast-paced lives of people whose Monday-through-Fridays are ruled by congested Google calendars. Drop in Dwight Hall and a green Yale undergrad, and then you have an interesting dynamic at play.

I arrived in Washington D.C. for Dwight Hall’s Alumni Meet-and-Greet excited to share my enthusiasm and experiences for Dwight Hall as a member of First-Year in Service and a volunteer for Community Health Educators. What I wasn’t expecting was how vast and diverse the experiences of Dwight Hall alumni were. It was overwhelming – in the best sense possible.

Group of alumni listening to studentsI was humbled and, quite frankly, stunned by the achievements of those around me. No matter where I turned, I captured the snap shots of people whose lives branched out in every direction possible upon graduating, yet almost all of these individuals could trace their lives back to their experiences in the New Haven community. And that’s the beauty of Dwight Hall. Dwight Hall has created a community of compassion for me and thousands of students even long after they depart from Yale into the daunting world of “adulting” as other 20-and-unders would say. Despite the differences in the paths Dwight Hall alumni take, we can still come together at any point in time and reminisce about our service at Yale as well as eagerly discuss the service we have yet to do for our homes, communities, and nation.

Group of students speaking to alumni

For me, our Washington D.C. event was a bridge between the past and the present. A reminder that the Dwight Hall family continues to extend a hand or to tackle problems in the community with solutions in different pockets of the world. 40+ hour work days and commitments to our friends and families don’t stop us.

I recall a tidbit of conversation I had with a businesswoman who fought and negotiated for Syrian refugee women’s rights and better treatment right there in D.C. “Well,” she explained to me with a warm smile and a shrug, “I guess it’s a hobby of mine.”

Serena Ly ‘20 is a First-Year in Service participant and will be the coordinator of the program for the 2017-2018 academic year. 

For more stories, check out the Voices and Stories Archive page.