Q&A: Meet Chunky the Georgetown Panda!

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You may have seen him in your classes or appearing on Instagram and various locations across the United States visiting fellow Hoyas. Though he may be hovering around seven inches in height, he packs a ton of positivity. In an exclusive Zoom interview, Chunky the Georgetown Panda (B’23) and his guardians told us more about his mission to bring the Hoya community together, while also raising awareness for nonverbal autism.

What are you studying at Georgetown McDonough?

As a rising sophomore, I am majoring in Business & Global Affairs with the McDonough School of Business and the Walsh School of Foreign Service in their new BSBGA joint degree program. 

What has been your favorite class?

I really enjoyed Ethical Values of Business with Peter Jaworski, associate teaching professor at Georgetown McDonough. Not to brag or anything, but he did say that I became one of his favorite students. I think it is my stark patches of black and white fur — or maybe because I never missed a Zoom and always turned in assignments on time. 

We can leave that up for debate.

Tell us about your mission to bring awareness to nonverbal autism?

Myself and a dear family friend both have nonverbal autism, meaning we rarely speak, if at all. My friend says that my cuddly and silent mannerisms make it easier for others to feel empathetic and see that people with nonverbal autism can do anything we set our minds to. It is because of him that I continue to raise awareness about the topic, but also serve as an inspiration to children with nonverbal autism by showing them how to live life despite not being able to speak in the highly communicative world we live in. 

How have the Jesuit values inspired you to bring the Georgetown community together?

My guardians, who also are undergraduate students at the McDonough School of Business, have always instilled in me the Jesuit values. I was drawn to the phrase “cura personalis,” meaning “care for the whole person.” These values inspired me to open up my mind and see how I can use my knowledge to care for others. They say actions speak louder than words, which is why I believe I can help others become more effective communicators, because nonverbal communicators use their body, gestures, sounds, and actions/reactions to articulate how we are feeling. I want to use my platform to open up this dialog within the greater Georgetown community. 

Paul Almeida, dean and William R. Berkley Chair with Chunky the Georgetown Panda

Additionally, I’m a rising sophomore, which means that with an entire year under my belt, I have a plethora of knowledge to pass down to the incoming freshman class. I have provided advice to the over 500 freshmen who currently follow me in GroupMe chats and on my Instagram account.

What has it been like to visit your fellow Hoyas?

I love to travel, and being small and fluffy has its advantages — like being able to fit into small packages so that I can visit my fellow Hoyas across the country. So far, I have been to New York, North Carolina, California, various parts of Washington, D.C., and Tennessee. I have the goal of visiting Hoyas in all 50 states by the end of 2021. I even had the pleasure of visiting Paul Almeida, dean and William R. Berkley Chair for Georgetown McDonough!

It is safe to say that I am a busy mammal. 

What are your plans for the future, and where can everyone follow you on your journey?

I hope to add some diversity to our mascots by eventually becoming recognized by the administration as an unofficial mascot of Georgetown University. Diversity is our strength, and I would love to work alongside Jack the Bulldog.

It has been an incredible journey so far, and I am excited for the next three years and beyond. People can follow my daily adventures on my Instagram, @Chunky_the_Panda.