George Mason University

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Life happens, and then you graduate

December 20, 2017   /   by Damian Cristodero

Doris Weaver

Doris Weaver is graduating Dec. 21 with a degree in human development and family science. Creative Services photo.

In those quiet moments when Doris Weaver takes a break from her busy schedule and considers what she has accomplished, there is, she admits, a sense of disbelief.

“I’m still in shock,” she said.

When Weaver graduates from George Mason University on Dec. 21 with a degree in human development and family science, she will complete an educational journey she always wanted to make but postponed while being a wife and mother.

She also twice overcame breast cancer, an experience that helped guide her decision to go back to school.

“When you are hit with it twice it’s always in the back of your mind that it might come back,” Weaver, 43, said. “So [getting a degree] is one of those things I wanted to accomplish.”

“She’s not someone who wears her experiences on her sleeve. It’s very personal,” said Bethany Letiecq, one of Weaver’s professors in George Mason’s College of Education and Human Development. “But it drives her ambition to serve others and give back in meaningful ways.”

Weaver graduated from high school in 1992. She and her husband, Scott, had their son, Daniel, eight years later.

In March 2001, while working as a receptionist at a dental insurance company, Weaver was diagnosed with Stage 3 cancer in her left breast. In December 2003, Stage 2 cancer was found in her right breast. Both breasts were removed and treatments included chemotherapy and radiation. She is now cancer-free.

The experience made Weaver appreciate even more the time she spent with family, especially with Daniel, now 17. So when Weaver returned to school in 2013, she searched for a field of study that encompasses that sensibility and provides a career path toward advocating for families and children with special needs in a school or community setting.

“Just the spectrum of being able to give a service, to try to be an advocate for families and kids is something that really drew my attention,” she said.

After graduating from Lord Fairfax Community College, Weaver transferred to Mason after discovering the human development and family science major. The commute from her home in Linden, Va., to Mason’s Fairfax Campus is 60 miles, but she said it is worth it for the small class sizes and personal interactions with faculty.

“I was really amazed that even though I had such an age gap with most of the students, I’ve gotten close to them,” Weaver said. “I’m a little like a mother figure. I guide them a little bit. But I also learn from them, too.”

“She’s so passionate about working with young kids and families,” Letiecq said. “She has a great opportunity to make a difference.”

Topics: Graduation