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Mason College of Engineering and Computing (CEC), alongside the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD), recently received a shared $250,000 donation from Google.

The donation is focused on advancing equity amongst the student body, as well as enhancing outreach efforts towards K-12 students and undergraduate students looking to move on to teaching the material themselves.

Christopher Carr, the CEC Associate Dean for Diversity, Outreach and Inclusive Learning, stresses the importance of continued outreach to marginalized communities by the department.

“These industries have struggled to diversify in a lot of different ways and this gift allows us to make a concerted effort in ensuring that we are reaching out to them,” Carr shared.

Efforts to diversify the student body stand in tandem with the importance of continuing the diversification of the teaching pool.

Dr. Shekila Melchior, director of CEHD’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, expressed the necessity of this.

“The more that we are trying to diversify the teaching population, the more advantageous it becomes… I think it becomes more important for students to say, ‘hey, I feel seen in this’ or ‘this is an opportunity for me,” felt Melchior.

The portion of the donation provided to the CEHD will largely benefit the continuation of the college’s teacher externship program created with the help of Amazon. This program provides teachers in the Washington D.C. area the opportunity to take a three-credit Mason course where educators will have the ability to work with experts in the field.

In providing the opportunity to receive this education, the department hopes to enhance the current pool of teachers in the field, as well as aid traditionally marginalized communities through access to this program.

“We want to encourage more students to consider going for their masters and their PHDs in these subjects. Not only to continue to be subject matter experts and leaders in the field, but also then to be able to go into the academy and come back and teach others,” said Carr.

In addition to advancing diversity outreach and aiding educators, the funding will also aid undergraduate students more generally with the many financial concerns which to many, are all too familiar. This money will be available as emergency retention scholarships.

In the words of Carr, “A library fine or a parking ticket can be the make-or-break between someone being able to register for classes the next semester… Whatever the need, we wanted to be able to provide something [whenever] they need some additional support.”

Additional funding will be provided to Mason’s Early Identification Program, as well as GIRL Inc., in order to continue diverse outreach efforts throughout the community.