Spirit of King Award winner wants graduate students’ voices amplified on campus

Christian Suero portrait

Christian Suero, president of the Graduate and Professional Student Association, Spirit of King awardee. Photo by Evan Cantwell.

Christian Suero arrived at George Mason University from Michigan not knowing a soul.

He quickly realized that other graduate students were experiencing the same feelings he was: lots of questions about academic life, but seemingly no one to answer those questions or offers of guidance.

The handholding of his undergraduate days was definitely over.

“The transition is extremely different,” Suero said. “Undergraduate, you have people to help you; graduate level is more independent. You have to find resources and mentorships on your own and that doesn’t come easy to everyone.”

Now the president of the Graduate and Professional Student Association at George Mason, Suero makes sure students like himself feel well informed, included and represented on campus.

“At Mason there has been an absence of voice for graduate students. They are often forgotten because they are at that level of adulthood where they commute [to school] or have jobs,” he said.

His effort to help his fellow graduate students’ voices be heard and amplified at the commonwealth’s largest public research university is why he was named a 2017 Spirit of King awardee by George Mason’s Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Multicultural Education.

The Spirit of King Awards are presented each January during the MLK Jr. Evening of Reflection to persons who have made exceptional contributions to the development of an inclusive learning environment through their work. Suero is one of three students who earned the award this year.

Suero, who was born in the Bronx, N.Y., and was raised by a single mother, is set to earn a master’s degree—his second, this one in sociology—this spring, but has already started work on a PhD in sociology, thus living up to his mantra, “no pressure, no diamonds.”

He’s done this while doing research, working on his thesis and serving as a student representative on the Board of Visitors and the Graduate Council at Mason.

Suero is working on the development of a mobile application to help synthesize and communicate universal opportunities such as grants, scholarships, jobs, conferences and volunteering for students.

He hopes to launch this mobile application at Mason next academic year to help all students find opportunities suited to their needs.

“I want students to call Mason a home and know what opportunities are available in each room,” Suero said.