Faces of Mason

Compiled by Student Media

Photo Courtesy of Nelson Alvarado

Photo Courtesy of Nelson Alvarado

Student: Nelson Alvarado

If you could go back in time to the first day of college and tell yourself one thing, what would it be?

I think I would tell myself to change my major. I’m currently PreMed and I decided that I would pursue a degree in Bioengineering. I knew that this major would fulfill my premed requirements and I moderately enjoy the classes. However, I didn’t know you could get accepted to Med School as a non-STEM major, so long as you still take the required classes. So I probably would’ve majored in music or vocal performance or something since that’s one of my passions. Easier classes, a higher GPA, and I’d have more fun in my classes.

What is your most proud achievement?

The achievement I am most proud of is definitely doing the internship program I did at Columbia University this past summer. Being that Columbia is Ivy League and has a very reputable medical school, I was beyond thrilled when I got my acceptance letter for the summer program at their medical school. I was 1 of 80 students from across the country to get accepted out of the 2000+ applications they received so it was very validating. Plus I met great people, made lifelong friends, and feel more confident applying to med school. And staying in NYC for the summer was dope!  

If you could write a book about yourself, what would the title be?

“The Boy Who Lost His Magic In The Closet—and how he got it back”

Photo Courtesy of Connie Hylton

Photo Courtesy of Connie Hylton

Professor: Connie Hylton, Accounting Professor

What motivates you to get up in the morning?

I am so fortunate. I love my job. I teach the very first accounting class to all Business School majors. I am driven by a passion to show how exciting and valuable accounting can be to all business majors. I have been a Certified Public Accountant in Virginia for over forty years. I try to bring examples from my accounting jobs into the classroom. It is also great that I live so close to campus. Because it is only 1.7 miles from my driveway to parking, coming to campus is very easy. I come by campus often, even on weekends.

Have you ever traveled to another country? Tell us about it.

I have been fortunate to have lived in Germany for over four years. I traveled a lot while I lived there. However, recently I returned to Europe and visited the Normandy region of France. That visit had a big impact on me. History became alive when I saw Omaha Beach and the Normandy American Cemetery. There was a white cross tombstone marker with the name of Lt. Jimmie Monteith. Tears came to my eyes. There was a dorm at my alma mater, Virginia Tech, that was named for this graduate who died on June 6, 1944, D-Day. I had never realized why the dorm was named for him. When looking at the Normandy beaches and cliffs, I realized the courage it must have taken for people such at Lt. Monteith on D-Day.

What do you enjoy most about George Mason University?

I like the opportunity to see my students everywhere in the region. Because so many of our students live in the local area, or take jobs in the local area, I run into so many of them. I have seen students, and former students, at many restaurants, at airports and on planes, at church, at professional events and in many businesses. I try to remember my students. When I don’t, I really appreciate when they identify themselves as my former students. I just ran into one at Fairfax Corner who graduated in 2004. I recognized him, and he remembered me. It was great to meet his child and catch up on his career. In my 18 years teaching at Mason, I have probably taught over 18,000 students. That is a lot of students to run in to.

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Organization: Hardwired Global, Representative – Sumbal Abid

Compiled Basma Humadi

What does your organization do and why?

Hardwired Global is non-governmental organization that combats religious oppression by training and equipping indigenous leaders to defend the freedom of conscience and belief for every person. We believe that everyone is hardwired for freedom, and we consider ourselves to be a network of leaders from around the world who believe every human has inherent dignity and seeks to be free.

Can you tell us more about the backpack drive you’re having – how it’ll work and what it does?

For their entire lives, the children of Iraq have experienced the most nihilistic form of religious bigotry in recent human history. They have witnessed hatred, violence and even genocide against people of every faith.  They are scared and traumatized. And as their country is finally liberated from ISIS, these children are asking, how can stop the cycle of hate? Hardwired believes the answer to that question is education. We have trained over 20 teachers to help displaced and persecuted children. We are teaming up with Mason Muslim Affairs Council and United Muslim Relief GMU chapter to collect backpacks and school supplies to send to these schools.

Everyone who wants to participate should bring a backpack (doesn’t need to be expensive) and a few supplies with them. Supplies include things like pencils, colored pencils, pens, notebooks, and folders. There is a sign-up sheet going up soon where everyone can tell us their name, what they’re bringing, and how much of it. We will all come together and pack the backpacks on April 10th in JC Meeting Room B. We’re also going to be adding notes of encouragement for the kids!

What is your most memorable moment with your organization and why?

My favorite memory so far is when I first met the founder of Hardwired, Tina Ramirez. Listening to her story and how she got to where she is was incredibly inspiring. The sincerity coming from her and her team members made the mission that much more appealing. Everyone who works with Hardwired is extremely passionate about their work!

Photo Courtesy of Imani Corely

Photo Courtesy of Imani Corely

Alumni, Imani Corley

What was the last song you listened to?

Skywalker by Miguel.

What is your most prized possession?

Probably my cell phone! I use it to communicate of course and also to study, read and to also look up things on the internet.

Who is one of your biggest role models in life?

My mother is my biggest role model in life. She pushes me everyday to strive for greatness and to follow my dreams. She has taught me the value of self respect and also how to pour kindness into the world and into other people.

Photo Courtesy of Brandi Blake

Photo Courtesy of Brandi Blake

Professor: Brandi J. Blake, Assistant Director, Diversity, Inclusion and Multicultural Education

What is your definition of greatness?

My definition of greatness is achieving anything beyond what you thought your limit was or could be. We achieve greatness daily and often. Pay attention!

What motivates you to get up in the morning?

My mission to serve, help, and advocate for others is what gets me up in the morning. I am genuinely fulfilled by acting out my purpose and I am blessed to have a job that allows me to do just that each day.

If you could make one world issue become resolved in an instant, what would it be?

Death by war and violence and oppression of any kind. I guess that counts as two but a woman can dream!