COURTESY BELLA GERARD
COURTESY BELLA GERARD

“It’s hard to be humble when you’re from Georgetown.”

For years, the cheeky saying stared back at me from a needlepoint pillow in my parents’ bedroom. It belongs to my dad, Robert Gerard (COL ’82), and while the phrase is meant to be comical, the advice is far from necessary. My dad is one of the most humble people I know, as well as one of the most hard-working and genuine. To my family, he represents not only what it means to be a good Hoya, but a great person.

At Georgetown, my dad was a superstar. Pursuing a major in psychology while studying to be pre-med, Bobby G — as he is still affectionately called — was not only on the Hoya baseball team, but was also the football team’s quarterback. He was lucky to attend Georgetown with siblings: His brother, Billy, arrived two years ahead of him, graduating from the College in 1980 and their sister Joanne followed suit in the College Class of 1990. Before all this, their father had attended Georgetown for medical school, graduating in 1950. It goes without saying that our family has bled Hoya Blue for quite some time.

In many ways, my time on the Hilltop has mirrored my father’s. I, too, pursued coursework that coincided with my passions, though for me this took the form of an Honors English thesis. Not quite the proper build to be a quarterback myself, I opted instead to show my school spirit from the sidelines as a Hoya cheerleader. Like my dad, I was lucky enough to share my time as a student with a sibling: My sister, Sophia, will be a junior in the School of Nursing and Health Studies this fall.

As far as our Georgetown experiences, my dad and I have been truly blessed. To be fair, our family is extremely lucky in general: We are loud and passionate people, and it is the same energy that gets us into screaming matches that carries us through rough times as well. No family is perfect, but the imperfections that shape a family’s individual members are often what make it unique. My dad has worked tirelessly to provide for me, Sophia and our sister Morgan, and my mom has given us guidance on everything from fashion to heartbreak to the Italian way to pronounce just about any word.

Morgan, Sophia and I are beyond blessed to have two parents who support and protect us, motivate and discipline us, frustrate and inspire us. Even within Georgetown’s vast and unique community, I am confident that it would be difficult to find two people more devoted to the idea of family than my parents — and this is likely why my family is so drawn to the spirit of Georgetown and the Jesuit values it promotes. Collectively, the five of us are also a pretty great group to drink a bottle of wine and enjoy a homemade bowl of pasta with.

This month, I took my senior photos wearing a sweater adorned with my dad’s original G varsity letter, his name scrawled in Sharpie on the inside label. Last week, I packed up my belongings from the townhouse I made my home, right down to the Georgetown memorabilia my dad lent me to decorate the walls. This week, I graduate from a school that means so much to my family and enter the next phase of my life feeling slightly scared and endlessly determined. While leaving the Hilltop is harder than I could have ever imagined, I am guided by both the examples of my family and the lessons I learned here at Georgetown. Combined, these are enough to prepare me for anything that might come my way.

Bella Gerard is a senior in the College.

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