George Mason University

News at Mason

For Mason students, summer not just for vacations

August 24, 2018   /   by Mary Lee Clark

Photo and video by Lathan Goumas.

This summer, many George Mason University students applied the skills they learned during the academic year to make an impact in the community. Some interned on Capitol Hill, others worked in health policy, and one even worked to inspire the next generation through Mason’s summer camps. Read on to find out about what they gained from their experiential learning opportunities.  ​

Kelly Blythe and Michelle Lee

Epidemiology interns Kelly Blythe and Michelle Lee both interned with the Fairfax County Health Department this summer. They analyzed data for trends in infectious diseases in Virginia as well as pharmacy surveys, opioid education and childcare presentation for communities and surveys. They said the information they learned in classes at Mason’s College of Health and Human Services was helpful, as was having professors who had real-world experience in their field. 

They also appreciated "[professors] being open and letting us know not everything is cookie-cutter,” Lee said. “You take the skills you learn and apply them as you go."​

Hayley Hinton

Hayley Hinton studies sport management in the College of Education and Human Development and interned as the community relations and promotions coordinator for the Potomac Nationals Minor League Baseball team. Connections she made while working as an intern with the Patriot Club at Mason Athletics led to her internship with the Potomac Nationals.

"[Andrew] Ruge's class was the most helpful because it was sports marketing and it helped me with promotional ideas," said Hinton, who said she brought some ideas from the class to life with the Potomac Nationals.

Jade Kirkland

Jade Kirkland is a forensic science graduate student in the College of Science. She spent her summer working with the FOCUS summer camp (Females of Color Underrepresented in STEM—science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), a program designed and organized by the STEM Accelerator Program at Mason. She worked with both middle and high school girls to help them learn more about science, technology, engineering and mathematics.  

“STEM fields are still male-dominated, and showing young girls that they, as young women, are capable of doing anything that they set their mind to—no matter the level of difficulty—by showing them actual women in their field, is the greatest gift anyone can give them and yourself,” said Kirkland.

Sami Saab

Sami Saab is a senior majoring in film and video studies at the College of Visual and Performing Arts. This summer he maintained and rented out camera equipment as an intern with DC-Camera. He said he learned about the type of equipment he managed at DC-Camera through classes he’d taken with the Film and Video Studies Program and from working with Mason’s Office of Communications and Marketing, which gave him a foundation that qualified him for the internship. 

"It goes both ways, by learning about [camera equipment] in the classroom and then working with it at DC-Camera, I can now better apply those skills when I'm on film sets at Mason," said Saab. ​

Marina Chafa

Marina Chafa will graduate from the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution in May 2019. As an intern, this summer she attended briefings and corresponded with the constituents of U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. Schafa said the diversity of the students in her classes at the school and the inclusive and open environment professors created in the classroom broadened her perspective. 

"Because we're talking to a bunch of people who come from a variety of different backgrounds, they have a lot to offer and bring to the table,” said Chafa. “I feel like I am able to come into my internship with a holistic approach when looking at things."

Rebecca Jodidio is a student at the Antonin Scalia Law School. This summer she worked with the Legal department at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) in New York City. After that, she participated in an organized law and policy tour in Israel with other JD and PhD candidates from around the world.

“The law school taught me the legal fundamentals to confidently approach assignments, even the ones that were entirely new to me,” said Jodidio. “Having professors that were open to answering my questions in and out of class also made me comfortable asking my supervising attorneys for more information or clarity as needed.”

Tristan Schuler is a senior majoring in mechanical engineering at the Volgenau School of Engineering. He spent his summer interning with the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory redesigning autonomous blimps. His courses at Mason were beneficial to his internship, and his involvement with clubs and undergraduate research helped him understand how to transfer his classroom skills to the field. 

“The robotics club and ASME [American Society of Mechanical Engineers] student design competition both gave me the opportunity to get my feet wet and start putting classroom knowledge to real-world applications,” said Schuler. “Also, my undergraduate research with the Creativity and Graphics Lab at Mason gave me a good idea of what to expect in my current internship.”

Stephen Taylor is in his final year of earning his MS in biodefense from the Schar School of Policy and Government. He spent his summer working for the U.S. Department of Agriculture at the Animal Parasitic Diseases Laboratory as well as volunteering at the Smithsonian Institution’s “Outbreak!” exhibit, which educated the public on infectious diseases with pandemic potential. 

“The biodefense degree [at Mason] is all about understanding emerging infectious disease threats and developing sound policy solutions to mitigate them,” said Taylor. “This was excellent preparation to work in the ‘Outbreak!’ exhibit.”

Emily Sayles is a rising sophomore majoring in finance in the School of Business. She was a financial research intern for Argus Research in Manhattan where she also visited Nasdaq and the New York Stock Exchange. 

“Classes at George Mason gave me the initial exposure to the things I'd be working on,” said Sayles. “Some of my business core classes also helped me build essential skills, such as reading financial and accounting documents, that I quite literally would not have been able to do my job without.”

Emily Sayles. Photo provided.

Katie Russell is an environmental and sustainability studies major—an integrative studies program in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and the College of Science. This summer she interned with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the headquarters for the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. She worked on educational programs about seabirds on the Aleutian Islands and in Kachemak Bay. 

“Mason prepared me for this internship through great professors who encouraged me to apply for many positions, engaging classes with work outside of the classroom, and opportunities on campus like environmental student organizations and student volunteer positions,” said Russell. ​

Katie Russell. Photo provided.

College of Health and Human Services students Tasnuva Chowdhury and Emily Webster are spending their summer with Voices for a Second Chance, a Washington, D.C., organization focused on giving former inmates a second chance to be productive members of the community. Webster said that their public health practicums helped prepare them for their internships.

“By taking [the social epidemiology course], I understand these people; they are a very deprived group of people, and they are the most vulnerable,” said Chowdhury. “That course is helping me a lot."​

Tasnuva Chowdhury and Emily Webster

Jayson McMurtrey is a senior studying sport management in the College of Education and Human Development who spent the summer working with the National Football League’s Washington Redskins. He spent his time behind the scenes at FedEx field preparing for events and concerts. 

“Mason has done a good job of preparing me for the internship, as many of the things that we covered in classes have touched on a lot of what I have been exposed to in the team environment,” said McMurtrey.

Nicole Dacuyan, a public health student in the College of Health and Human Services, spent her summer working on health policy with the Center for Health, Environment and Justice. She was part of a campaign that works with people who live near Superfund sites, areas that have been contaminated by hazardous waste. Most of her work was focused on  a bill introduced by U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., that would make the party responsible for polluting pay for cleanup.   

"The health promotions class really gave me an understanding of how to write different educational materials to various audiences,” said Dacuyan, whose primary role is to break down complicated policy for members of the community.  ​

Nicole Dacuyan

Margo Zuchristian is a senior majoring in global affairs in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences who spent her summer learning about disaster relief and the aging society in Japan. Some of the places she visited were Kyoto, Hiroshima, Osaka and Kobe. She said that Mason clubs and professors helped her cultivate her passion for learning and her independence.  

“I would absolutely recommend this program to other students!” said Zuchristian. “The professor, Dr. [Megumi] Inoue, was incredibly organized and made it a point to help us find our way around Japan. Thanks to her guidance, I was able to visit every site I had hoped to see while I was abroad.”