First-Generation Student Makes Most of Hand Up
Isabella Bah has a lot on her plate during the school year. The Mason junior is majoring in finance and accounting. She’s a member of five student organizations (that she could recall) and works two part-time jobs, including one as a mentor in Mason’s Early Identification Program (EIP).
“In all honesty, I’m still trying to figure out how to balance everything,” she says. “Time management will always factor into my daily routine.”
That said, it’s nice to know one’s perseverance and commitment are recognized.
Bah received a $10,000 EagleBank Entrepreneurship Scholarship that helped pay her sophomore tuition.
“A little bit overwhelming,” she says of the award. “Just to reflect on the experiences and the opportunities I’ve been given is really amazing.”
Bah, a first-generation student from Woodbridge, Virginia, began forming roots at Mason at age 13, when she enrolled in EIP, something she stuck with through her high school career.
An admitted introvert, Bah says the opportunity EIP gave her to familiarize herself with the campus and make friends was just what she needed to acclimate to a new and challenging environment.
The program also offers academic support in its three-week Summer Academy, which exposes students to classes in core academic areas. The academy includes SAT preparation, writing workshops and familiarization with computer technology.
“It helped me tremendously,” Bah says. “They’re the ones who gave me an opportunity to come to campus and get a feel for what it’s like to be a college student. All the academic and emotional support I got from them definitely helped my transition into college.”
Still, Bah had to seize the opportunity.
Khaseem Davis, EIP’s director who is also studying at Mason for his PhD in education, says there have been times when he would be working late in EIP’s offices, and Bah would be curled up with a blanket in a cubicle pulling a long study session.
“An extremely strong student, very hardworking, very dedicated,” Davis says. “She’s one of those students you like to highlight.”
Bah says she feels some pressure to succeed, not only for herself but to “set the blueprint” for her sisters, Heidi, 12, and Marisa, 15.
“There are a lot of times when I feel like this is all luck,” Bah says. “I literally can’t believe so many great things are happening.”
This story was written by Mason Senior Communications Manager Damian Cristodero. Read more Mason News.