George Mason University

News at Mason

Her choice of a major was a career decision

September 4, 2018   /   by Damian Cristodero

S-CAR student India Mazzaro, in front of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, wants to return to the Middle East to work with and support refugees. Photo provided.

By the time India Mazzaro was 11 years old, she had absorbed a pretty comprehensive education in some of the conflict zones of the Middle East.

Living in Amman, Jordan—her mother was a government employee at the American embassy—Mazzaro said she saw camps of Palestinian and Iraqi refugees on the border with Syria. From her home she said she saw and smelled the smoke from a coordinated terror attack on three hotels in which 60 people were reported killed.

For Mazzaro, now a senior at George Mason University majoring in conflict analysis and resolution, the unforgettable scenes helped define her career aspirations.

“One of the main things that made me really interested in the area was seeing how people dealt with all the issues going on daily,” Mazzaro said. “I want to go back and work with them. I want them to have some help and support when they leave those countries.”

The key was finding the best way to learn the ropes.

Mazzaro said she originally considered studying international relations, but her mom recommended conflict analysis.

It was a good choice, Mazzaro said, especially the learning of conflict resolution techniques through role-playing, which created a more realistic hands-on experience. She also took a two-week winter break trip to Jerusalem and surrounding areas. Marc Gopin, director of the Center for World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution in Mason’s School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, led the trip.

“Every day we talked to different groups, Palestinians and Israelis,” Mazzaro said. “You got a sense of how complicated the conflict is. We also got a sense of the grassroots peace initiatives going on there.”

“She’s really a determined and focused young lady,” said Leslie Durham, the school’s undergraduate academic advisor and program coordinator. “She’s one of those students who knows what she needs to do. And when you have students who know what they want and find the resources to accomplish it, it speaks volumes when it translates into a career.”

Mazzaro said her degree in conflict analysis and resolution can take her in several directions.

Her first choice is to return to the Middle East to work with and support refugees. But Mazzaro said she is also interested in empowering residents of New York City’s low-income neighborhoods.

“I feel that so many of the skills I learned are applicable to many situations,” she said. “You can even do HR [human resources] in a company with my major. You can go in any direction you want it to.”