Throughout my life, the word “home” has taken on a variety of different meanings, colors and textures. Growing up overseas and moving to a new city every couple of years taught me that home extends far beyond a particular house or place: Home can be a feeling, a person, a moment in time.

When I arrived in front of Darnall Hall at the beginning of freshman year, I had already attended eight schools in the past 18 years and had grown weary of the seemingly constant transitions. Though I was nervous about finding home in a new place yet again, my stress was eased when I recognized that everyone around me was new as well. For the first time, I would begin and end the next four years of school with the same group of people. Of course, each of us would have our own experiences, but Georgetown University would be the grounds on which all of us discovered home.

Now, with graduation around the corner, I am scared to think this particular journey is almost over, but I know I will always carry the experience of feeling at home at Georgetown.

For me, home was ESCAPE — an overnight retreat program for first-year and transfer students — where I was not only welcomed but also encouraged to be my most authentic self, where previously unspoken fears and uncertainties were met with profound kindness and the comforting words, “I feel the same way.”

Home is the feeling of looking up at the endless sky of stars at Georgetown’s retreat center, the Calcagnini Contemplative Center, and feeling unsettled, yet so grounded. It is eating apple pie straight from the dish with my fellow ESCAPE leaders in Team Supernova, a group of people who showed bravery through honesty and taught me to never doubt the power of seeing a friendly face in a crowd.

Home is walking across Copley Lawn, watching the leaves or blossoms fall from our very own Whomping Willow. It is sitting outside in the sun on a Wednesday, captivated by the joyous atmosphere of the bustling farmers market, and the sound of friends calling each other’s names. And I can’t forget our resident duck couple: an irreplaceable source of humor and character, and the two biggest fans of Georgetown’s mile-deep puddles.

Home is Senior Capstone, a series of weekly meals and discussions throughout spring semester, which brought together 12 relative strangers and helped them become friends. Though we have all gone through the ups and downs of Georgetown in our own ways, every week we stepped into one another’s worlds by sharing stories of cynicism, optimism and vulnerability. Somehow, the future’s big unknowns felt safer and brighter when sitting together around the table of a home-cooked meal.

Home is the blue house on the corner of 37th and O streets, where I wake up every morning feeling lucky to live among some of the most wonderful, inspiring women I know. I am at home when we share what is on our minds, sitting in one another’s presence and sharing bursts of laughter.

To me, Georgetown has become my home in these ways and so many more. Even though feelings of lostness and unfamiliarity have crept in occasionally, a feeling, a moment or a person always comes along and helps me put my feet back on the ground.

If nothing else, I hope that during my time here I have made someone feel welcome and at home — even for just a little while.

And to everyone graduating, while there are many whose paths I have not crossed, know that I am forever grateful to have walked among you for the last four years. Graduation marks a step toward our next adventure and away from Georgetown, but in time, I know that we’ll find home again.

Helena Vaughan is a senior in the College.

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