Bookends: Reflections from a GV freshman and a senior

GVL/Kevin Sielaff
Rodney Washington

GVL/Kevin Sielaff Rodney Washington

Alyssa Rettelle


Rodney Vincent Washington II, a native of Chicago, thought he knew what he wanted to do when coming to Grand Valley State  University as a freshman. Now he’s in his last semester and is headed in a completely different direction.

Washington describes himself as a leader and a professional, as an entertainer and a counselor, as a lover and a fighter and most of all, very busy.

As a freshman, Washington came to GVSU on a full scholarship for track and declared his major as criminal justice. He’s decided, however, that his real dream and goal is to become an A-List Hollywood actor.

“I’m not at all doing what I thought I’d do as a freshman,” Washington said. “My major is criminal justice and I’m going almost in the complete opposite direction with trying to take in Tinsel Town.”

His goal for this semester is just to graduate.

“I just want to get done with as little resistance as possible,” Washington said.

He isn’t nervous at all for graduation either.

“I’m overly excited to start my life journey,” he said. “I cannot wait to get out there and get the hundreds of rejections out of the way so that I can walk into that one audition, or casting call, or party, or restaurant, or bathroom that will change my life forever.”

After graduation, he joked that he’s taking his talents to South Beach, laughing before adding he’s just kidding. He’s actually relocating to Los Angeles to start acting.

Washington still has four months left at GVSU and he’s enjoying it while he can. He’s a member of Alpha Kappa Psi and a member of the improvisation group, Subject to Change.

“I’m the token black guy of Subject to Change and I love it. The best part of my week is our rehearsals,” Washington said. “That’s about it this year, working 45 or more hours a week makes it hard to stay involved with organizations.”

His friends and the relationships he built over the years with many great people are what he says he’ll miss the most after graduating, though he’s hoping to keep in touch as much as possible.

His advice for the freshman that just moved in is fairly simple.

“Keep up with your syllabus,” he said. “Keep up a good relationship with your professors; make sure they know who you are. Participate in class, ask questions, spark discussions and challenge authority academically.”

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