Mason's Spring 2017 graduating class has some real achievers. Meet some of them.
As a teenager, she already had her eye on the Far East, spending her high school sophomore year in a boarding school in Mussoorie, India.
She continued to study Hindi and U.S.-India relations on climate change as a University Scholar in George Mason University’s Honors College, but senior Beverly Harp said she’s lately been quite focused on things closer to home, particularly campus groups.
“I didn’t study abroad during the school year, because I had these organizations that I really cared about. There’s so many opportunities on this campus to do things; I was really excited to dedicate a lot of my time to organizing and building things with students,” she said.
The global affairs major poured her time into co-founding Roosevelt at George Mason, a chapter of the Roosevelt Institute, a public policy organization that fosters a network of student-run think tanks.
“It’s been quite a journey, but we have really grown,” she said. “We have 40 to 60 people attending our weekly meetings. It’s become a community for people and a great platform to do advocacy or any intellectual work.”
Harp’s enthusiasm for public service, commitment to campus organizations and knack for leadership are some of the reasons why she is Mason’s Senior of the Year. Read more.
Here is what Terrence Moran loves about civil engineering:
“We build big things,” he said. “There are deliverables you can see. You design a bridge, and it’s there for 50 or 70 years. There’s that sort of payoff.”
He is thriving in an academic pursuit people told him was too difficult. He is doing research with assistant professor David Lattanzi using a technology that can basically peer inside steel, and he will pursue his master’s degree and Ph.D. at Cornell University with a fellowship from its School of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
“Whether it’s his homework or analyzing lab results, he never stops pushing himself until he’s met his goals and mastered a topic,” Lattanzi said. “I’ve been fortunate to work with a lot of bright students, but none as tenacious as Terrance. That’s why he represents the best of Mason.” Read more.
Nereyda Sevilla believes she has a way to change how authorities and the public respond to disease outbreaks perceived to be transmitted by air travel. If she’s right, it could potentially save billions of dollars in misdirected federal and state money and give millions of air passengers more precise information about infections.
Sevilla is a civilian aerospace physiologist for the Medical Research and Acquisitions Division in the Office of the Air Force Surgeon General, a position she landed after she left the Air Force as a captain. She graduated from the Air Force Academy and earned her master of public health degree from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, the combined military’s medical school. During her 10 years in the military, she studied the effects of flying on the human body, whether on a fighter jet or transport aircraft.
When she realized the Post-9/11 GI Bill would pay 100 percent of her tuition for a PhD at a state school, Sevilla came across Mason’s Biodefense Program, “and I didn’t have to go any further,” she said. The accessibility and flexibility allowed her to continue her meaningful employment while allowing her to explore the intersection of science with policy. Read more.
Several people have tried to convince Erin Schulte to pursue a career as a doctor. That includes faculty members at George Mason University, where she graduated in May as a senior bioengineering major, and physicians with whom Schulte is acquainted.
Schulte’s passion is medicine, but of a more personal nature.
The Centreville, Va., native wants to be a physician’s assistant. Nothing against doctors, but …
“Being a physician’s assistant allows me to have more one-on-one contact with patients,” Schulte said. “It also offers me the opportunity to do different disciplines within medicine. With a physician’s assistant, once you are qualified and pass the board exam, you can work in whatever field you want.”
Schulte, who will attend graduate school at Shenandoah University, wants to work with children. It is a way to give back, she said, from her successful battle against leukemia that began when she was 4 years old. “I feel very lucky,” said Schulte, who underwent 30 months of chemotherapy. “My goal in life is to help others.” Read more.
If one thing is abundantly clear about Desmond Moffitt’s postgraduate situation, it’s this: The guy’s got options.
The George Mason University history major is graduating this month and has been accepted into graduate school at Columbia University’s Teachers College. He’s also advancing in the process of becoming a New Millennial Public Policy Fellow. The fellowship would allow him to work in Washington, D.C., on education policy initiatives for the New America think tank.
He’s also the winner of the 2017 Urban Leaders Fellowship, which would support his work this summer with Oakland Promise, a cradle-to-career program that focuses on tripling the number of college graduates from Oakland, Calif., within a decade.
Moffitt‘s dedication to school-aged children became apparent his freshman year at Mason, when he and a group of his peers from the Honors College started MasonU. “The mission was to provide campus tours to low-income students, kindergarten through eighth grade, in Northern Virginia and D.C.,” he said “I had the privilege and honor to work with more than 2,000 students across 16 schools.”
MasonU helped not only the younger students, but also the Mason students, Moffitt added.
“The second purpose was to expose Honors College students to narratives outside of their own,” he said. “One of my mentors came to me and cried. She said, ‘I saw myself in that girl.’ You can’t make that, you can’t teach that. That’s a story all on its own.” Read more.
Stephanie Mui has been content to always run life at her own pace, even if it is a bit quicker than most.
At 17, the George Mason University student from the College of Science will be the university’s youngest graduate this weekend when she receives her master of science in mathematics. The Fairfax native had just completed the fifth grade when she first began taking college courses at Northern Virginia Community College and was 16 by the time she earned a BS in mathematics from George Mason in summer 2016.
More astonishing is that Mui simultaneously attends nearby Oakton High School when not in class at Mason. She won’t graduate from Oakton until June, meaning that she’ll soon hold undergraduate and master’s degrees from Mason prior to actually graduating from high school—or even getting her driver’s license.
“It’s really crazy,” she allowed, “but it’s been OK. I think my time management skills are pretty good.”
Mui plans to attend New York University this fall on a full research fellowship to begin work on a PhD in math. Read more.
Jenna Cann is interested in black holes, how they form and the forces they exert on the space around them.
That proposed research and her outstanding work as an astronomy major at George Mason University earned the senior a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.
“I got it and didn’t think it was actually happening,” Cann said.
There shouldn’t have been a doubt, said Michael Summers, a professor in George Mason’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, who called Cann “one of the brightest, most talented and hard working undergraduate students I have had in my 27 years of teaching at Mason.”
The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program awards are presented to exceptional students in STEM disciplines who are pursuing master’s and doctoral degrees. Students receive a three-year annual stipend of $34,000, with an additional $12,000 allowance paid to the institution being attended.
Cann, who applied with letters of recommendation from several faculty members, said she will pursue her master’s degree and PhD in physics and astronomy at Mason.
“I’ve had some of the best professors I’ve ever had,” she said of the department. Read more.
When it comes to understanding his potential career paths, Michael Mingo-Dabney has done the research.
The George Mason University senior decided to study finance because of the varied job opportunities it would make available to him. He added an economics minor to expand his business knowledge, and he will spend 27 months after graduation with the Peace Corps in Colombia.
“It’s the intermediary step between school and figuring out what it is I want to invest most of my time in,” Mingo-Dabney, who grew up in Virginia Beach, said of the Peace Corps. “I’m going to use that to transition into the business realm. Knowing the way I am, I’m going to go all in.”
Mingo-Dabney’s responsibilities in Colombia will mesh nicely with his academic pursuits.
Though not yet sure in what area of the country he will be assigned, he knows it will be rural and he will work as an advisor to help a nonprofit organization become a more efficient operation.
Mingo-Dabney is familiar with deep dives into the numbers. In an independent study research project he presented at this year’s National Conference on Undergraduate Research, he examined, as he described, “compensation differences between executives and nonsupervisory employees through the medium of stakeholder salience.” Read more.
Senior social work major Claire Campos was first exposed to end-of-life care while completing her service-learning requirement at George Mason University.
She worked in Falls Church at Capital Caring, a nonprofit that provides holistic care to seriously ill people living at home or in assisted living facilities.
As she managed her caseload, she noticed a disparity in the race of the patients.
“Most of the clients were Caucasian,” she said. “I decided to do research on why there is a disparity among minorities for hospice utilization.”
She was able to find a lot of research literature on the African American community and its underutilization of hospice.
“I found there’s a lot of misrepresentation of what hospice is, sometimes people think of it as out-of-home and that it speeds up the dying process,” Campos said.
This misrepresentation of hospice is also present among whites and the highly educated; many people don’t understand hospice care can be done in the home, at nursing homes and assisted care facilities, she said. Read more.