Finding My Community

grad-17Emily Alexander graduated from George School in May 2012. She is a sophomore at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. where she studies psychology. She has a passion for musical theater, which has continued into her time at college.

I started my freshman year at the George Washington University, more often referred to as GW, in August 2012. The GS high school experience is unique, and definitely aided me in my adjustment to the change in lifestyle. Specifically in terms of academics, I found that my high school education had prepared me well for the long papers and extensive exams that are common in a university’s curriculum. I was never too daunted by the length of my final term papers for classes because I had already written ten or twelve page papers for classes in high school. Though there were still periods of academic stress, I was never buried under work because George School had taught me how to prioritize and manage my time when it comes to completing homework and more extensive assignments that may overlap with each other.

It was not only the rigorous academics that prepared me for the collegiate lifestyle. At a school of roughly 10,000 students, it sometimes seemed difficult to find a community within the larger student body. George School’s community is so distinct and welcoming that I immediately longed for that feeling when I started college.  I participated in theater productions during my first year and found myself beginning to feel that sense of community, but I knew there was still something missing. It was not until the spring semester of my freshman year when I realized what that missing aspect was: service.

At George School, I learned that service is essential to fostering a community of growth, love, and peace. There was a high importance placed on service, whether it was participating in the MLK Day of Service, attending a service trip, completing co-op each week, or learning about local and worldwide service opportunities at assembly. It was impossible not to serve the George School community and beyond in some way during high school. I felt that I was not properly serving the world and my community in college my first year, so I decided to let George School’s emphasis on Quaker values lead me to a new opportunity and community at my school.

1461178_10153454152525587_149853138_nI chose to rush the co-ed community service fraternity on campus, Alpha Phi Omega, this past fall. Though the pledging experience was sometimes difficult, the opportunities I have received through joining APO have reconnected me with the service and sense of community I enjoyed so much during my time at George School. I have to complete 24 hours of service each semester, though I usually complete more than those hours because of all the opportunities in DC.  I spend a few hours each week volunteering at a local soup kitchen, a student-run organic garden, the Ronald McDonald House, and many of the other new service events that appear on APO’s service calendar.

APO gives me an outlet to nurture two of the tenets of Quakerism that I learned at George School: service and community. Whether I am grabbing dinner with my fellow brothers or planning new service events, I always know that I am embracing some of the core aspects of my high school experience that George School taught me.


Emily poses with a member of her fraternity and a student from Washington, D.C. at a fair for Little Friends for Peace, an afterschool program that provides peace education for children in low income neighborhoods in D.C.

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