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PRC May 12-18, 2002
Hilton Washington and Towers, Washington DC

Postcard from Georgetown

Keith Marshall
May 17, 2002

It's graduation week at Georgetown University here in D-C. And Saturday I'll be walking across the stage with hundreds of other graduates. This week I took some time during my last days on campus to reflect on my experiences here at Georgetown. And I put together this audio postcard.

BELL

This is Georgetown University. It's been my home for the last four years. But in a few short days, I'll be leaving for good. I'm excited and I'm nervous. But, at the same time, I'm extremely relieved and proud.

I'm the first person in my family to graduate from college. I'm also the first person to go to college. In my four years at Georgetown, I never met anyone else who was in the same position. Many of the students here come from wealthy families. They've attended pricey private high schools, and going to college is a no-brainer. I came from a high school in one of Maryland's struggling public school districts. But I did well there, and I played football, too. I was actually good enough to be recruited to come and play at Georgetown. But in the end, it was my academic achievements that ultimately made coming here possible.

It seems like yesterday that my team arrived for training camp -- almost two full weeks before classes began. That day marked the beginning of the most challenging journey I'd ever undertaken in my brief 18 years. Before I knew what happened, I was thrust into a dizzying schedule of practices and meetings. Today I decided to take one last visit to the place many of my days began.

Entering GT weight room -- post on some sound as we enter, fade under track; crossfade w/ class sound @ end of graf

Our team usually arrived here before the sun came up, when the dew was still thick on the grass. We'd begin the day lifting hundreds of pounds while still struggling to lift our eyelids. On a good day, we'd get to go home and get some rest after our lift.

(Sounds of class underneath)

But most times, we went straight to classes. ("Stalin…")

When I first arrived at school, I had no idea how to be successful. High school had been easy for me, and I didn't really have any study skills or a routine. At Georgetown, I had to sacrifice sleep to get my work done. Freshmen year, I remember sitting in my room reading Aristotle and Plato and Descartes, and struggling desperately to keep myself from ripping the book apart and throwing it across the room. Who thinks about this stuff? If I can see the chair, then the chair exists. There's no question. Almost every day, I worried that I was going to fail. But, I didn't.
(Weight room sounds underneath)

Playing football, and lifting, and taking a full load of classes left me with very little idle time. And it forced me to make the most of every moment that I could spare. Unconsciously, I started to break down my overwhelming workload into smaller, more manageable tasks. If I had an hour between a 7am meeting and my first class of the day, I would use that time to finish any reading or assignments I didn't have time to do the night before. And I didn't just get by. I excelled both on the field and in the classroom. But deep down inside, I often wondered what people thought when they looked at me or they listened to me speak in class. I wondered if they were dismissing me or placing me in the "dumb jock" category.

Start bringing up outdoor sound; after vox, crossfade into cookout sound

Walking around campus, here's what several Georgetown seniors had to say about student athletes.

VOX.

But I didn't let those stereotypes discourage me. start crossfade into cookout sound The discipline I'd developed playing football carried over into my studies, and that helped me succeed in the classroom.

(Cookout sound underneath)

And here I am four years later, just days away from receiving my diploma. That means a lot to me, and it means a lot to my family too. Earning my degree means that things will be different for me, and that makes them proud. Sure, graduating from Georgetown isn't the key to instant wealth, but it will open doors. And all of those doors lead to greater opportunities and achievements than what would have been possible, if I hadn't seen this journey through.

For Next Generation News, I'm Keith Marshall.