Notable Alumni Included Politicians, Astronaut

By Dana Nickel, Staff Writer

This year, Mason alumni celebrate 50 years since the creation of the Mason Alumni Association, while Mason was still George Mason College of UVA. 

The association, headed by President Brian Jones, spent almost a year planning for the celebration, honoring Mason and 50 years’ worth of achievement among its current and past students.

“The Alumni Association has done some amazing events, but I am lucky to be the president during our biggest one yet,” Jones said during his opening remarks at the celebration.

The event’s purpose was to be “an extensive celebration” that would commemorate Mason’s first 50 years, and pay tribute to Mason’s class of 1968, who established the association. 

The association is actually older than the university itself, as Mason separated from UVA and became its own public university in 1972. 

At the cocktail hour, members of the university’s faculty and administration were able to meet some honored alumni and discuss their work and how Mason made that possible.

Some notable alumni in attendance included Virginia Delegate Charniele Herring, from Mason’s class of 1993. Herring is one of the longest serving female delegates in the Virginia House, as well as the leader of the Black Caucus in Virginia’s House of Delegates.


Another honored alumni was Anousheh Ansari, a graduate of Mason’s 1989 class, and one of the few women in the world that have been to space. Ansari took part in a 2006 mission to the International Space Station, becoming the first Iranian to visit space.

Noelani Kalipi was another alumna in attendance that spoke to Fourth Estate. Kalipi graduated from Mason in 1992, and served as legal counselor on Capitol Hill for Hawaiian representatives. Since then, she has returned home to Hawaii to raise her children. She now runs a 200-acre nonprofit group on Hawaii’s Big Island that does research into preservation and environmental sustainability.

Kalipi said that she actively attempts to send potential college students to Mason, citing that she would not be the person she is today without first being a student at Mason years ago.

The celebration consisted of a VIP cocktail hour open only to distinguished alumni and the honorees of the event, then a dinner was opened for all graduates of Mason after.


President Àngel Cabrera was also in attendance. Speaking to Fourth Estate, Cabrera said that he was excited to meet past students who have gone on to do great things.

“Being President [of Mason] is the most important job I’ve ever had, and this is why,” Cabrera said at the dinner.


Photos courtesy of John Boal Photography and Christopher Bobo, Office of University Advancement and Alumni Relations


Editor’s note: Headline was updated to add the word “alumni” to clarify it was a celebration of 50 years of alumni, not the university itself.

First paragraph was updated to correct that Mason was still part of UVA at the time the Mason Alumni Association was created, and Mason did not depart from UVA until 1972.