George Mason University

News at Mason

Mason honors employees with Outstanding Achievement Awards

December 10, 2018   /   by John Hollis

Assad Khan, MAIS ’11, has been helping people go from being prospective George Mason University students to Mason graduates for 18 years as an advisor for the College of Science and the former College of Arts and Sciences, while LaNitra Berger from the Honors College champions respect, diversity and individual dignity.

Khan received the Jade Baricelli Spirit of Academic Advising Excellence Award, while Berger was recognized with the Margaret C. Howell Award for her promotion of diversity.

The two are among the recipients honored at this year’s Outstanding Achievement Awards, which annually celebrate the hard work, dedication and achievements of Mason faculty and staff across several areas in support of the university’s stated values and mission. They and others will be formally recognized at a ceremony in Dewberry Hall on Thursday, Dec. 13 at 10:30 a.m. The university community is invited to attend. Learn more and see the list of winners.

Here's what Khan and Berger had to say about their awards:

Assad Khan

Q. Congratulations on being recognized for your efforts. What exactly does the Jade Baricelli Spirit of Academic Advising Excellence Award mean to you?

A. I was completely shocked. Jade is very much still with us, but she was very much an integral member of the advising community. Because of her and a colleague, the Mason Academic Advising Network came to fruition. There was a groundswell of working and bonding between advisors from all over campus, but Jade was the main force behind bringing us all together. I’m the third recipient of this award, so the company I’m now keeping is huge because they were all people of whom I was in awe because of what they did. This is probably the highest honor that can be bestowed upon an advisor on our campus.

Q. How would you describe your role as an advisor?

Assad Khan is a part-time DJ at rock station DC101.

A. I help advise primarily undergraduate students and help oversee academic advising within the College of Science. I’m the person who’s there from prospect to alumni stage. I speak to the incoming students at orientations. I work with them from the minute they walk on campus. I’m literally the second-to-last person they see before they shake the dean’s hand at graduation. It’s the lifetime of a student, and I’ve seen thousands graduate. It’s a neat thing.

Q. When you’re not working with students as an academic advisor, you can also be found working as a radio DJ for local rock station DC101. Has it been difficult to balance all your many interests, while also being married and the father of an infant son?

A. It’s something I just have a passion for. It’s something I enjoy doing. It’s primarily weekends, and they understand that I have a career here at Mason. I just have a passion for it, just like I have a passion for student success.

LaNitra Berger

Q. How much did you know about the Margaret C. Howell Award prior to your selection?

A. Nothing until I looked into the award, so I felt honored I would receive this award named after someone who really made a big difference and a big impact.

LaNitra Berger, from the Honors College, champions respect, diversity and individual dignity.

Q. Why is diversity so important to you? Has it always been something that has driven you?

A. It’s definitely been something that my parents instilled in me as a child. They came from Alabama and South Carolina. They came from the Great Migration. They remember Jim Crow like it was yesterday. So I always felt that if they were going to give me what I had in life, like education and access to travel opportunities, then the expectation was going to be that I was going to make these opportunities available to other people.

Q. What about your job gives you the most satisfaction?

A. It’s the students. Every day I get up and think about some student who has done something fantastic, and they write me and say “Look, I’m in Japan,” or “I’m in China. Thanks for helping me with that Boren Scholarship.” There’s never a day when that gets old.