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Graduate Students, Let Your Voices Be Heard!

April 21, 2017

By Hadeel Al-Tashi

Often, by the time students reach the graduate level they feel their days of campus and involvement and activism are behind them. This is understandable – priorities certainly do change once in graduate school with a focus shifting more toward professional pursuits, research, and degree completion. Yet, there are many opportunities for graduate students to continue to engage with the campus community. For those who were once active undergraduate campus leaders and for those who have never served in a formal leadership role, I am here to say Graduate Students, Let Your Voices Be Heard!

My name is Hadeel and I am a graduate policy student from Yemen. As one example of how graduate students can become involved at Mason, I’d like to share about my experience with the President-Student Advisory Group

I proudly served as Mason’s Arlington campus representative on the 2016-2017 President-Student Advisory Group. President Cabrera established the President-Student Advisory Group to encourage in-depth and meaningful conversations between students and senior university administrators on current issues relating to the Mason student experience. The student advisory body consists of students currently seeking their PhD, Mastand Bachelor’s degrees. The group is invited for lunch meetings at the Fairfax campus four times throughout the Fall and Spring semesters.

My involvement with the group enhanced my experience as a graduate policy student. Here are three ways it can enhance yours:

  1. Enrich Your Graduate Experience: Think of this group as an exclusive student leadership program where you will be in the loop about the latest events, issues, and developments. Not just that, but also think of it as a program where you can leave behind an impact. It is an opportunity to engage, learn, and give back. Are there any causes you are particularly passionate about? Or things you would like to improve around campus? In this group, you can voice your thoughts and add value to the conversation with senior-level decision makers. In previous meetings, we discussed issues like student health and well-being, sexual assault prevention, transformational learning, and freedom of expression across Mason campuses. We also provided our feedback on the university’s new budget model.
  1. Grow Your Professional Network: Get connected to students you wouldn’t meet otherwise. It gets harder for graduate students to meet other students outside of their program. The students you will meet in this group are bright and diverse in their academic, professional, and social backgrounds. You will get the opportunity to build valuable relationships with Mason’s President, Dr. Cabrera and Vice President for University , Rose Pascarell. You will also occasionally meet with the university’s Board of Visitors and government officials through other events.
  1. Enhance Your Leadership Skills: It is a great way to discover and practice your passions and to build your resume. I recently spoke with a Mason graduate, Lisette Vegas, who accepted an offer to work for the Urban Institute. When I asked her what she thought made her a unique candidate, she said it was her leadership role in the Mason community. The President-Student Advisory Group provides the opportunity to brainstorm ideas to solve critical problems facing the university and its students. You will also get a first-hand exposure to the measures the executive branches are taking to ensure diversity and inclusivity. The highlight of my involvement was when I was invited to share my perspective on Trump’s immigration executive order with Senator Kaine.

Whether you decide to apply for the President-Student Advisory Group or to get involved in others ways, it is important to remember that at Mason, there are many avenues for your voice to be heard! Graduate students can consider getting involved with the Graduate and Professional Student Association (GAPSA) or with student organizations within your academic programs and beyond.

The application deadline for the 2017-2018 President-Student Advisory Group has just passed, however the group is still looking for representation for the Arlington and SciTech Campuses. I would strongly encourage ALL Mason graduate students at the Fairfax, Arlington, SciTech, and Loudoun locations to consider submitting an application next year to be a part of the 2018-2019 group. Early planning for this great opportunity will give you the time you need to reflect on your own passions and consider where you would like to add value to the Mason Nation. Students from all backgrounds are encouraged to get involved!

Interested in serving as a 2017-18 President-Student Advisory Group representative for the:

Arlington Campus? Contact University Life Assistant Dean, Lori Scher at lcohen@gmu.edu

SciTechCampus? Contact University Life and Residence Life, Erin Brandt at ebrandt@gmu.edu

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