In recognition of George Mason University’s diverse student body and strong health professional programs, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) signed a memorandum of understanding with George Mason on Oct. 30 to formalize their relationship as part of the Student Outreach and Recruitment (SOAR) initiative.
Under this agreement, the VA will work closely with Mason, through its College of Health and Human Services, to recruit students for internships and career opportunities. This in turn will help promote diversity and eliminate potential barriers to diverse representation within the VA’s workforce.
“We chose to partner with Mason because they are the most diverse university in the commonwealth,” said Georgia Coffey, deputy assistant secretary for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at the VA. “With the diversity that students bring to Mason, they bring diversity of thought, which is a tremendous asset for us.”
The VA will have a designated office on campus and regularly participate in career fairs, seminars and other on-campus events. They will provide staff who can advise Mason students on applying through USAjobs and accessing special hiring programs, as well as training, mentoring, shadowing and successfully navigating pathways to VA employment. The VA will also share information with their partners about the careers Mason is preparing students for, with an emphasis on nursing, health administration, public health, health informatics, social work, nutrition and other majors.
“For Mason students, this partnership creates excellent opportunities for employment and internship,” said S. David Wu, Provost and Executive Vice President of Mason. “Given our talented and diverse student population, the VA is really tapping into a goldmine here, and I’m confident this partnership will be a great success.”
Erica Weinard, a senior in the Bachelor of Social Work Program who is researching yoga as a treatment for PTSD, is excited about the possibilities this partnership can provide.
After hearing about her grandfather’s experience on D-Day, Weinard decided she wanted to work with the veteran population and advocate for them. “I believe that the veteran population deserves so much more than what they are offered,” she said. “This partnership will allow me to get the proper training and experience that is needed to work with this population.”
In addition to providing highly qualified, career-ready students to fill VA positions, Mason will share VA opportunities such as internships, scholarships, fellowships, grants and clinical residencies with students and faculty on their website. Mason will also provide information on opportunities for training and educational experiences for VA employees. Mason students who would like to be notified when the VA is coming to campus can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We see this MOU as a first step,” said Germaine Louis, dean of Mason’s College of Health and Human Services. “The college will continue to provide meaningful opportunities for our students to build upon their academic foundation. We hope that our graduates will continue the cycle of mentoring future students so that Mason and agencies can accomplish their missions.
“Together, we can be better.”