INTERVIEWS BY BROOKE LEWITAS
Student Chloe Clark
How would you describe the Comm department to someone who’s considering Mason?
I look at the [Communication] department as a family. Not just because everyone’s nice, but because they will [help] you along. It’s almost like they hold your hand. I like that because there are some majors where their advisors don’t do anything for them and they’re not involved in their academics. In the Comm department, there are professors that actually care about their students. They care about the life outside of Mason and I think that that’s really important.
What originally brought you to Mason?
I was looking for a university that had diversity, and I was not going to be a number. I think that’s a huge thing. I live right near UVA, and everybody in my town wanted to go to UVA; it was the school to go to. I didn’t want to be a number, I wanted to have a name to my face, and I think that that’s a big thing at Mason, especially in the Comm department. They really care about their students and they want to be involved in their students’ lives beyond the academics. That was a big thing. Also, being in the D.C. area, and having a place to work right after you graduate is really important.
Where is your favorite place on campus?
Besides Starbucks, I don’t really spend a whole lot of time on campus. I honestly like the outside aspects of campus. I like the area where the benches are, that’s nice in the spring. I like the quad area near the [Johnson Center] during the spring.
What, besides school, takes up most of your time?
I’m currently the CEO of a dog walking and pet sitting business called The Contented Canine. My aunt owned the business and when she moved to Australia, she had to sell it. I bought it from her because we wanted to keep it in the family. My family are [all] huge dog people and I thought I would try it. I started it back up in May of 2018 and within that year, it just took off. It’s run from Old Town Alexandria. Sometimes it’s chaos and sometimes I wish I could get more hours in. Day-to-day, I’m constantly emailing with clients, connecting with them on LinkedIn, texting them, so I work between my classes. It’s demanding with time but very fulfilling and something that I love to do.
What are you most proud of in your academic career?
This semester and last, I’ve been conducting research on the relationship between college students and stress and anxiety. I’ve been looking at the resources on campus for stress and anxiety, and even though we have them, students don’t want to use them. It’s been eye-opening, and a real wake-up call that Mason is not doing enough. College student stress is an area that definitely needs more research. After graduation, I could see myself pursuing seminars based off of this research or workshops and bring it to the professional and working world.
What was your favorite opportunity you got as a Comm student?
I originally was not planning to study abroad because I pay for school independently. So I was like, ‘There’s no way I can afford this!’ But, I went to the financial aid office, I spoke to Dr. [Catherine] Wright. And it was honestly cheaper to study abroad than it was to go here. It allowed me to be more independent than I already am. The trip [to Milan] is guided by [Wright], but day-to-day you’re on your own and you do your classes on your own. Being fully immersed in culture is really important and that was an opportunity that I could do that.
What will you miss about Mason when you graduate?
I will miss the Comm department. I’ve gotten to know a lot of professors very well, in and outside the classroom, so it’s going to be hard to detach from that. I’ll also struggle with not self-identifying as a student anymore.
What is your biggest piece of advice to Mason students?
Be yourself. Be honest with yourself. Don’t stress about being someone more.
Faculty: Maoria Kirker
Can you describe your job?
I am a Teaching and Learning Team Lead. Basically, what that means is that I manage a group of 13 full-time staff and it’s a combination of staff and librarians. Our unit teaches undergraduates at Mason — primarily first-year students and transfer students — how to use the library and conduct research. We work a lot with English composition programs, the Communications department, and the bachelor of integrative studies. And then we do a lot of orientations and making sure new students know what they can do. And I’m also an adjunct professor for the Honors College. I teach Honors 110 in the fall and Honors 260 in the spring.
What is the day to day of your job like?
My job is never the same from day-to-day! Now, it’s a lot of meetings. I go to a lot of meetings to facilitate the work of those on my team, and they do the more interesting work: teaching two to three classes [on] how to use the library, doing research in library science, attending meetings, student consultations, lesson planning, a healthy combination of those things.
Where is your favorite place on campus?
The pathway next to the Mason pond. I like to look in and see if there’s a turtle swimming in the pond.
What makes a ‘good day’ in your job?
It’s interaction with students. The more I interact with students, the better the day is. Mostly because that means I’m not in meetings, but yeah. Sometimes it’s the smallest comment … I don’t think people realize how much that means [to me]. It makes it completely worth it.
What is something that every student should know about the job of a librarian?
It’s not just sitting around reading books all day! I wish it was. That would be great! Our job is to make researching easier for students. It’s to shave time off of your researching, so that you can be doing the reading and thinking and writing. [A lot of students] spend less time on that because they’re stressing out about finding things or citing their sources when it’s like, we have tools that can help you do this much faster. Come talk to us, and we’ll show you those tools!