A white woman in a bright blue jacket stands in front of a stone building on Georgetown's campus smiling.
Category: Georgetown Faces, Spirit of Georgetown

Title: What This Alumna Has Learned in Her 35 Years at Georgetown

This story is part of Georgetown Faces, a storytelling series that celebrates the beloved figures, unsung heroes and dedicated Hoyas who make our campus special.

A white woman with short brown hair and a bright blue buttoned jacket stands smiling in front of a graphical image of an observatory behind her.
Theresa Torres is the graduate program director in the Office of Student Financial Services.

Theresa Torres (C’88) has worked in the same office for 35 years. Although her role has changed several times, this alumna’s steadfast commitment to serving students in the Office of Student Financial Services (OSFS) has not.

Torres is the graduate program director for OSFS, a role she assumed in 2000. She works closely with administrators across the university, staff in the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences and with over 100 graduate masters, executive masters and Ph.D. programs to streamline the financial aid processes. Before assuming this role, Torres was a counselor, loan coordinator and assistant director.

Torres attributes her longevity on the Hilltop to two things: early-career mentors and the family-oriented environment on campus. She comes from a family of Hoyas – her dad and brother both graduated from Georgetown – and she earned her bachelor’s degree in American government with a minor in psychology and minor equivalent in fine arts in 1988. Torres returned to Georgetown just two months after graduating for her first job.

“No year has been the same since I started,” Torres said.

Learn more about her family ties to Georgetown, her interests in iconography and inventions, and what keeps her on the Hilltop. 

A white woman with brown hair wearing a bright blue sweater leans on a stone ledge with steps behind her.

My family ties to Georgetown: My parents met in Washington, DC. My mother, Darlene, a registered nurse, was born in a rural coal mining town in West Virginia and my dad, Frank Torres Jr., was from Guam. He graduated from Georgetown College in 1956 with a degree in government and military science.

A black and white photo of a male alumni from Georgetown.
Torres’ father, Frank Torres Jr. (C’56), graduated from Georgetown College with a degree in government and military science. Photo Credit: 1956 Ye Doomesday Yearbook.

My dad served in the Army and was stationed in Massachusetts, Germany, Virginia, New Mexico and elsewhere. At the end of his distinguished military career, my parents retired to Guam. I am proud that he was the first Major General (two-star) from Guam in the United States Army.

My brother, Frank Torres III (C’85), also attended Georgetown and earned a degree in chemistry. My family heritage from the Pacific Islands and rural Appalachia, and deep Catholic faith, has given me a deep awareness and appreciation of other cultures, and has enabled me to be especially sensitive, as a person and a financial aid officer, to other people’s socioeconomic and related circumstances.

What I remember from my first day on the job: I remember walking up the steps of Village C and being overjoyed to return to the university to work full-time, having worked in the office while I was a student in the College. My boss, Rob Meck, who became a great mentor to me and was on vacation on my first day, left a very welcoming note and a stack of reading material to take me through. 

I knew Georgetown from a student perspective and was then embarking on understanding it from an administrative one. This new job enabled me to give back to Georgetown through assisting the university’s efforts to help students secure affordable financial aid and study at Georgetown. And that has guided me since.

My first big assignment: was to revise the Financial Aid Handbook, which was one of the key documents used by the university community to understand the financial aid process. This was one of many major tasks that has benefitted people’s lives, for which I have had the privilege of working on during my career at the university. 

After graduating from Georgetown, Torres began working in the Office of Student Financial Services two months later.

What keeps me coming back to work: One noticeable characteristic about the OSFS is that historically our departure rate has been very low due to high morale, and for me, the office has always been a family. We’ve all had different challenges in our work and personal lives, but I attribute the respectful management approach to another early mentor: my dean and a pioneer in the financial aid field, Patricia McWade, as the force leading us through. This is where cura personalis really comes to light in our office: she has enabled OSFS to be student-centric, focusing on how we can best serve the students.

Outside of work, you’ll find that: I enjoy traveling, history, art, ancient archeology and inventions. Early on in my career, my mentor and director of the office during that time, Ken Ostberg, noticed I was becoming a workaholic, and he encouraged me to figure out what my hobbies were and to develop them over time. I never forgot that sage advice.

In Washington, I serve on the Advisory Council for Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens in Northwest DC, which displays a notable collection of Russian art and stately gardens. I enjoy bouncing ideas off a dear friend, Ali Jazairy, who holds 20 patents. One day, with his continued encouragement, I hope to add “inventor” to my list of achievements.

I also dabble off-and-on in a course with a Russian iconographer. This relates back to the fine arts courses I took in addition to my psychology minor in undergrad, including painting, drawing and sculpture. These classes were incredible in allowing me to create and not be boxed in – really helping me balance my government major.

My spiritual mentors were: Fr. Dick McHugh, S.J., Fr. Joe Lacey, S.J. and Fr. Brian McDermott, S.J. – all Jesuits from Georgetown and Holy Trinity Parish. They guided me to develop a greater awareness of myself and to be more present with others around me. This influenced me to be more empathetic toward other people, and I was able to identify tools for going through life. 

Fr. Lacey taught me that even in our busy lives, we can always fit people in because we’ll get the time back. These Jesuits helped me focus on my spiritual growth and the people I’ve encountered, and connecting them together – shaping me into the person I am today.

A woman with brown hair and a bright blue jacket looks at the rounded dome of an observatory behind her.

My favorite place on campus is: the Father Francis J. Heyden Observatory and Gardens. The observatory was where I saw Haley’s Comet in 1986. At the time, the telescope was working, so it was a marvelous experience. It dates back to 1843 and was a premier observatory within the United States.

One thing I keep on my desk: is a cat puzzle. I’ve kept it there because it was a gift from a friend and Georgetown alumnus who knew I enjoyed problem solving and has brought me great joy over the years. It has multiple sides and can be reassembled daily in a different way, which resonates with the creative challenges I am tasked with solving in my job.

What comes to mind when I think about Georgetown: Family. Whether it be co-workers, external work colleagues, parents or students, each person has their own life story. It’s about understanding and listening to what is going on with them and working with them. There is also a caring aspect. We come together in times of joy and times of tragedy, and I really appreciate working and being in that type of environment. …

When I went to my class reunion in 2023, and I said to my classmates, ‘I never left Georgetown,’ and some would say, ‘Well wait a minute, because of you, think of how many people you’ve helped as they have gone through Georgetown.’ There were a lot of special people that I worked with, and they all had their stories. I’ll never forget them.

A woman with brown hair and a bright blue jacket leans on a cannon with a stone building behind her.