An Evening with George Washington

It can take a lifetime to make history. But for the Class of 2018, it will only take one night.

On August 23, during their first night at GW, incoming freshmen traveled to George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate for a private look at the home of the university’s namesake. The trip—part of First Night at GW, one of a series of events held during Welcome Week and sponsored by the Division of Student Affairs—was the first for any freshman class at GW.

First Night at Mount Vernon Estate

Watch student reactions from First Night at the Mount Vernon Estate in 2014

At Mount Vernon, the Class of 2018 enjoyed exclusive tours of the estate and grounds and participate in a George Washington-themed “Colonial Quest.” Speakers included Provost Steven Lerman; Assistant Professor of History C. Thomas Long, ’05; Student Association leaders Nick Gumas and Avra Bossov; and Vice Provost and Dean of Student Affairs Peter Konwerski, BA ’91, MA ’94, EdD ’97.

This history-making opportunity was made possible thanks to the generous support of GW alumni, parents, and friends, including the Scottish Rite Foundation of the District of Columbia, the Masonic and Eastern Star Homes (MESH) Charities, and GW parent Mario Grauso, P ’18.

Additionally, several local businesses—including Corner Bakery, Coca-Cola, Sodexo, and Pinstripes Bocce, Bowling & Bistro—donated refreshments for the event. The GW Campus Stores donated prizes for Colonial Quest.

GW Alumni Association Board of Directors member Morgan P. Corr, BA ’07, an officer in The Colonial Lodge, a Masonic lodge for members of the GW community, said First Night at GW is “a perfect example” of the kind of educational and youth-oriented programs the Masonic organizations like to support in the D.C. community.

“First Night, with its emphasis on the life and values of our university’s namesake, is an innovative way to create a signature ‘only-at-GW’ experience for all incoming students,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to meet their new peers, share the excitement of starting college, and learn about what makes President Washington such an outstanding model to follow.”

Supporting creative programming like First Night at GW was an easy decision for Mr. Grauso, whose son, Harrison, is among those joining the GW community this fall. He also helped support the documentary “Parables of War,” one of several projects conceived as part of the National Civil War Project, a multi-city, multi-year collaboration between four universities and five performing arts organizations to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War.

“As a parent to an incoming freshman, I am particularly pleased to help provide the Class of 2018 with the opportunity to spend their first evening as GW students at the home of the university’s namesake,” said Mr. Grauso. “I hope they leave the Mount Vernon Estate inspired by George Washington’s legacy and even more proud to be a member of the special university he envisioned in his last will and testament.”

GW Vice Provost and Dean of Student Affairs Peter Konwerski said the university is grateful to Mr. Grauso, the DC Scottish Rite, MESH, and the in-kind corporate donations for making this historic night possible for the Class of 2018.

“On that day, students looked both to the past and the future—they spent the day moving in and getting ready for the year ahead as Colonials, and that night they learned about George Washington and our rich Colonial history through the lens of our university’s namesake,” he said. “George Washington’s legacy of leadership, civility, and selfless service to others are shared values that we hope inform our students’ time at the university and their future lives as global citizens.”


Funding towards innovative programs like First Night at GW at the Mount Vernon Estate helps students take full advantage of learning and living in the nation’s capital. Visit to learn how philanthropic support can offer students these special “only-at-GW” moments.

Follow Administration and Hallmark Programs on Twitter @GWHallmark or visit their website for updated information. Watch the video from the evening here.

Author: Julia Parmley

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