At Commencement, GWAA President Explains Value of Colonials Helping Colonials

Steve Frenkil

Recent graduates must balance the desire to experience life in the present against the need to defer immediate fulfillment in order to achieve professional or career success. That was one of the central points in a presentation that Steve Frenkil, the president of the George Washington Alumni Association, delivered at the university’s Commencement on May 18, 2014 on the National Mall.

“I am a proud graduate of the Columbian College of Arts & Sciences,” Mr. Frenkil, B.A. ’74, an attorney at the Mid-Atlantic law firm Miles & Stockbridge, told graduating students. The audience also included a distinguished group of alumni who had graduated more than 50 years ago.

Mr. Frenkil welcomed the recent graduates to the “alumni family,” which he described as a lifelong and worldwide network of more than 250,000 people in 150 countries.

When his class was graduating from GW, Mr. Frenkil said, “Ruby Tuesday” by the Rolling Stones captured the tension between enjoying the moment and preparing for the future. “Cash your dreams before they slip away,” he quoted from the song. Today, according to Mr. Frenkil, those lyrics have been translated into “YOLO,” or “You Only Live Once.”

In order to help alumni pursue and realize their dreams, a central theme of the Alumni Association is “Promoting a Culture of Colonials Helping Colonials,” Mr. Frenkil said. “This means that GW Colonials — alumni, students, faculty and staff — are committed to looking out for each other, opening doors for each other, and helping each other become successful.”

When fellow Colonials reach out for help, alumni should lend a hand, he added. “We will take each other’s phone calls, and we will respond to each other’s emails and text messages, and we will open our doors for each other,” he said. “‘Colonials Helping Colonials’ embeds into our culture the message that you are part of a GW family that will help you accomplish your goals and realize your dreams.”

Concrete steps that alumni should take to stay connected and to get support include joining the Young Alumni Network, participating in networking events, downloading the alumni app, and connecting with the alumni community on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, Mr. Frenkil said. Alumni should also consider mentoring fellow graduates, giving (or asking for) advice on the Career Advisor Network, attending class reunions, and visiting the Alumni House on campus.

“No matter where you live, work or play, you are always Colonials, and always members of your GW Alumni Association that is here to help you,” Frenkil concluded.

—Menachem Wecker