Washington Scholar Tackles Her Future
Since venturing from San Diego to Maryland’s Eastern Shore as one of the first George’s Brigade scholars, Alicia Vasquez ’20 has thrived in a close-knit community where she is now paying it forward.
Whether she’s in biology lab, on the rugby field, or organizing her sorority’s next charity event, Alicia Vasquez ’20 feels right at home. She is also incredibly grateful to be here, earning a debt-free college degree that will lead to graduate school and her dream job as a physical therapist. As part of the first cohort of George’s Brigade recruits (now known as Washington Scholars), Vasquez is liberated from the student debt that is crushing so many among this generation of college students.
“My sister went to college for two years and my parents got into a ton of debt,” Vasquez recalls. “They told me, ‘We can’t do this again,” so I was trying to get as many scholarships as I could. My high school counselor had talked to a recruiter from Washington College and then talked to me about George’s Brigade. I didn’t want to leave the West Coast, but they flew me out for a series of interviews. The campus was so small compared to my hometown and everyone was so nice to me! I felt really connected right from the start. And once I got the call back [telling me I was accepted], it was such a big relief. Literally all of my school expenses are paid for. It’s such a burden off me and my parents.”
Vasquez, now a double major in biology and Hispanic studies, was initially matched with another George’s Brigade scholar from California, and then introduced to staffers—including associate dean Andrea Lange (now retired) and Tya Pope, the assistant dean who now coordinates the Washington Scholars program— who would help them navigate new terrain.
“A lot of us were not prepared to go to college,” Vasquez says of that first George’s Brigade cohort. “Dr. Lange helped me with internships in my freshman and sophomore years, and Tya Pope became our go-to. They really helped set us up to be successful.”
Today, in addition to carrying a double major, Vasquez is president of Alpha Chi Omega sorority and coaches the women’s rugby team, the club team she organized with 22 active members. She still enjoys the camaraderie of fellow Washington Scholars in group seminars and is now a mentor for one of the first-year students.
“Alicia is a strong, dedicated, and determined young woman,” says Pope. “When she sets her sights on something, there is very little that can stand in her way.”
The Washington Scholars program has not only provided the monetary support students so desperately need to make their dreams come true, it also provided a sense of shared purpose and support.
“The scholars really look out for each other and have created a beautiful little family on campus.,” Pope says. “This will no doubt benefit them in the years to come, whether prepping for graduation or making life-0changing decisions in the future. I am in awe of how much the scholars have blossomed over the time they have been here. They are the changemakers. They are the future.”