Hundreds of alumni return to campus to celebrate 50 years of Community Scholars

Last week, Georgetown University celebrated 50 years of its Community Scholars Program (CSP), which every year welcomes 75 new first-generation students from historically underserved backgrounds. Since its inception, approximately 1,700 community scholars have graduated from Georgetown.

The anniversary event brought more than two hundred CSP alumni and friends of the program to campus for events and historical reflection. Professor Ricardo Ortiz, English department chair, and Professor Elizabeth Velez, director of the Center for Multicultural Equity & Access (CMEA), led a talk titled “Does Literature Make Us Human?: What the Creative Humanities Can Tell Us About Our Common Humanity.” Reverend Raymond Kemp held a conversation on “Justice and Engagement.”

CSP’s home, the CMEA—which helps historically underserved students develop and thrive academically and socially through diversity education, multicultural programming, and more—also hosted an open house and special walking tour of campus.

The keystone event in the weekend was a panel discussion called “Fifty Years of Justice in Action: The Community Scholars Program Celebration.” Georgetown President John J. DeGioia kicked off the event with remarks on the importance of CSP to the past 50 years and next 50 years as a Jesuit institution. After a proclamation by Senior Advisor to Mayor Muriel Bowser Beverly Perry, CMEA Director Charlene Brown-McKenzie—an alumna of the Class of 1995—moderated a discussion among alumni panelists, who shared emotional reflections on how CSP opened new doors of opportunity and influenced their future careers working with underserved communities.

Community scholars reflect on program’s impact

Members of the CSP community in the audience at the event considered the impact of the program. Watch the video:


“We’ve seen [CSP] work really well and blossom into a program that I think capitalizes on all of the potential of people who otherwise might have been overlooked,” said Class of 1974 alumna Nancy Carter. “We’ve really increased our network of people who are influencing our government, our corporations, community as a whole. It’s not just benefitting Georgetown. It’s benefiting everyone.”

“This is probably the most important work that Georgetown does. The institution needs it and the country needs it,” said Dennis Williams, former director of CMEA.

“I’ve got to express my gratitude for those who had the vision and the courage to put together a program that planted seeds of opportunity for so many,” said Class of 1984 alumnus Goren Dillard.

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