Freshman Focus 2013

Page 1

Freshman Focus explore. inspire. express.

Freshman Focus • 1

Photos: Amy Rose

Freshman Focus • 2 Front and back cover photos: Carol Persons Photography

Letter from

the Editor

an amazing team of journalists and photographers. I have been responsible for the graphic design and layout of the magazine, met great people, learned a ton and had loads of fun doing it. I am honored and thankful to have been a part of it. And along the entire way, I have had people pushing and encouraging me and a team of uber-talented freshman to inspire me. Your college experience will be uniquely yours. No one else is Photo: Bridget Lane going to come along and do it for you. You’re not going to walk into Nothing is more exciting a classroom, and magically know than your freshman year. You have a how to be a computer scientist, or new wave of independence: studying a rocket engineer, or a physicist or what you want, taking the courses anthropologist. What you’re going you want, and making choices that to do is walk into a classroom and affect your future. Here at George have a chance. A chance to learn, a Mason University, you will forge chance to work hard and a chance to lasting friendships, find permanent do. But what you do with that chance memories, discover intriguing is completely up to you. subjects, and learn to be an And it is what you do with innovator. You will try new things and that chance that defines you. rediscover things you used to love. I wish you the best of luck, And nothing will shape you more than the best of excitement and the best what you choose to do with your time of times here at Mason. – and how you choose to spend your Sincerely, freshman year. There is a difference between college and school. A lot of times, Editor-in-Chief & Layout Editor they feel similar. You go to class, Freshman Focus study hard, take tests and complete B.S. C.S., 2016 projects. You have amazing, inspiring professors – and ones you can not A special thank you to the stand. But there is a difference: many, many freshmen who took the school is about learning, while time to contribute to this publication college is about doing. through surveys, tips and Tweets. In one of my favorite books, Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen said, “It isn’t what we say or think that defines us, but what we do.” Through my experience leading the Freshman Focus, I have been given an amazing chance to learn by doing. I’ve had the chance to read inspiring articles and to direct

Bridget Lane

Head Staff Bridget Lane

Editor-in-Chief & Layout Editor

Walter Martinez

Assistant Layout Editor

Amy Rose Photo Editor

Kathryn Mangus Student Media Director

David Carroll

Student Media Associate Director

Scott Bailey

Academic & Community Manager

Rob Cooper

Graduate Assistant

Jake McLernon Graduate Assistant

Leslie Steiger

Communications Team Manager

Lindsey Norcross Copy Editor

Contributors Tyler Byrum Seyma Cam Michael Cecere Tyler Elliott Jordon Foster Andrew Liech Taylor Sprague Ray Gorski William Granados Rondene Grinam Donovan Hall Anne Harris Denisha Hedgebeth Shaunie Holmes Melissa Joe John Hill Andrew Leich Tamour Malik Melanie Miles Jade’ Myles Matthew Morrison

Whitney Morcom Savannah Norton Grace Novak Ashley Palmer

Niki Papadogiannakis

Tameka Parker Karla Ponciano Jessica Price Devin Reid Sara Richard Diamond Royster Rachael Rutsky Laura Kay Sherman Valeria Sierralta Taylor Sprague Rachel Steiner Joelle Threatt Katie Wilkins Samantha Wettasinghe Alex Williams Matt Yelverton

Special Thanks To: Michelle Carr John Cicchetti Michael Gilmore Paul Gorski Mike Greiner Lisa Gring-Pemble Dennis Hicks Jeremy Hodgson Jennifer Johnson Wendy Kantor

Paul King Samaine Lockwood Rose Pascarell Peter Pober Aysha Puhl Todd Rose Rodger Smith Lisa Snyder Chrissy Windmayer

2016 Class Council Transition Resource Center University Life Freshman Focus • 3 Photo: Amy Rose

Table of Contents

Who We Are

Off-Campus Off-Campus Page 28

An Off-Campus Experience

Engagement Engagement Page 32

Achievement Achievement

Student Media Freshman Album

Page 36

Student Involvement

Advice Advice Page 38

The Freshman 15

Page 39


A Letter from President Cabrera

Page 44

University 100

Page 46

Best of Mason

Freshman Focus • 4

Who We Are

Photo: Amy Rose

What was your most memorable moment this year?

Finding our Niche by John Hill

“I’ll look back on this and smile because it was life and I decided to live it.” - Anonymous.

Since 7th grade I have always been known as “that guy” who enjoyed politics and had no problem speaking his mind, even in the presence of opposition. My passion for politics and the future of this country has followed me everywhere, including my freshman year here at George Mason University. It was during Orientation that I first learned about a place on campus where students who feel as passionately as I do could voice their opinions: the Office of Student Media. I was hooked from the start, joining the Mason Votes staff, Student Media’s online political news and opinion outlet. I really enjoyed working with other students who were interested in politics, even though I disagreed with some. During my first week at Mason Votes, I created a new goal for myself: to begin a political talk show to bring the message of common sense conservatism to

My name is Joelle Threatt and I am a pre-medicine/biology major at George Mason University. Coming to Mason was honestly one of the best decisions I have made in my entire life. My school and my home have become synonymous; I have found a family and amazing friendships that I could not have found elsewhere. I have met interesting professors that have challenged my learning skills and taught me new perspectives on my day-to-day life. But most of all I am thrilled to even be able to afford college. Coming from a single parent home and a school system that did not care about people from my racial background, going to college was always a dream that I knew would be hard to make a reality. My Puerto Rican and African American heritages became one of my biggest strengths instead of a weakness. I was able to earn many scholarships that targeted minorities and, combined with my high grades and volunteer work, I earned over

Photo: Joelle Threatt

by Joelle Threatt

$11,000 in scholarship money. My college experience has also led to me joining an amazing sorority that advocates for breast cancer awareness: Zeta Tau Alpha. My sorority has opened doors for me; it has allowed me to continue my legacy of volunteering in my community and contribute to a cause that affects my family personally. My sorority sisters also share my love of learning and we get together often to study, hang out and get to know each other. College is a bridge to a future beyond what is culturally expected for me and every day I pass a rigorous exam or choose to study rather than hang out, I am proving that all of the negative stereotypes have no value in my life, and that right here, at Mason, I have found my niche.

Photo: John Hill


irst-person bios on overcoming life’s challenges and finding your place here at Mason.

my fellow students at Mason, especially during an election year. So I convinced my liberal friend to co-host/ debate with me on-air; as a result, “Take it to the Hill” was born. Our show attempts to make politics entertaining for college students while providing truthful and important information. We yell, scream, argue, discuss and debate, proving that politics is not personal and should not harm friendship. I am lucky to have found my niche here at Mason early on, and hope that through pursuing what I love I will inspire others to do the same.

Freshman Focus • 5

“All of the attention given to us—I know I will get help from anyone!” Nora Johnson

oMar Zaki the

by Savannah Norton

FLYing FreshMan


mar Zaki deserves a spotlight on his talent. You may know him as “the Parkour guy.” He can jump, roll and climb with cat-like grace! With all the attention he has gotten, you may assume that he is letting all the interest get to his head. That is far from the truth. He is very down to earth and outgoing. Omar is a music major from Reston, Virginia. He sits back in his chair with a smile on his face as we prepare for our interview.

Freshman Focus • 6

Who We Are

Photo: Michael Cashell

Q: A:

Why did you choose to go to Mason?

I was deciding between George Mason and James Madison and originally I wanted to go to Madison more than Mason because both had good guitar programs since I am going to be a music major. I ended up picking Mason because it was closer to home, I could keep my job as a Parkour instructor and Washington D.C. is full of opportunities and there is not much to do in Harrisonburg. George Mason was just a good fit for me.

Q: A:

What is it like being a Parkour instructor?

I teach at a gym called Urban Evolution. One is in Alexandria and another gym in is Manassas. I have been teaching there [Manassas] for just about a year now. It is a great place, I love Urban Evolution. It is a giant epic Parkour gym.

Q: A:

When did you become interested in Parkour?

Just like anybody else, I saw the videos on the Internet when I was younger and I was like “Oh, I could never do that!” I guess it happened junior year of high school when I met my current best friend, Adam, and we were on the dive team and it kind of just came up in conversation one day. Later that week, we found out about Urban Evolution, the gym that I now work for, and they were just up and coming. My stepdad told me about them and told us to check it out. We went and we took a basic introduction class and we were hooked. We started doing it every weekend by ourselves. I guess we got pretty good at it and then we ended up going back to Urban Evolution a year or so later and showed them one of our videos. Then they ended up offering us jobs there to teach it.

Q: A:

Where do you get your inspiration from?

Oh boy, there are so many people! There are a lot of people in the Parkour world that are just the best athletes in the entire world. But I have to say, my biggest inspiration would probably be Daniel Ilabaca.

He is probably the best athlete in the world right now. I mean everyone is good in their own style and own way but he is a phenomenal athlete and is just a great person in general. Watching his videos is inspiring. I hope to meet him someday, that would be really cool!

Q: A:

Where do you get your ideas for videos?

They usually come to me. I normally think of the video ideas for the team I am on, and then once I throw the idea out there a bunch of us will change it up a bit and add to it. The recent Valentine’s video (on YouTube channel) was not originally going to be a chase video where somebody steals the necklace. I normally come up with the general idea and then we tweak it from there as a group.

Q: A:

Do you have a Parkour team?

I started this team with a couple friends of mine called Impulse Free Running. We started that in high school, there are five of us now and two of us go here. One goes to UVA and two of them are still in high school. It isn’t a George Mason sponsored team, it’s just friends from high school and we started this team together. Whenever we get together over breaks, we’ll shoot videos and put it up on our YouTube channel.

Q: A:

What other things are you interested in besides Parkour?

I am a music major, so I love playing guitar. I have always been really, really interested in athletics. My entire life I have just been a major athlete. I have run for eight years or so, did snowboarding for nine years, I played volleyball on a national team, I ran track nationally, I swam on a team competitively for 12 years, I’m a diver and I like juggling. I love playing sports.

Q: A:

Why did you start doing the 365 Day Parkour Challenge?

It is not specific to Parkour, it is a challenge where you train every single day for the entire year. It is a crazy idea! I saw someone

start this last year and I followed all of his videos until the year came to an end and then I decided I was going to embark on this journey. Everyday you just have to do some kind of training, even if it is not strict Parkour. You can go out and do stretching, some strength training, push-ups or pull-ups, a run, anything to improve your fitness. So far it is going great and I am loving it. The results have really been coming in fast; I am really excited to see where I will be at the end of the year. Training everyday definitely has its benefits.


What would you like to say to your fans/followers on YouTube and at this school?


The biggest thing that I would like to say is that if anyone is interested I would love for people to come to me and try to learn themselves. Even though it looks really hard and difficult, that’s not where you start. Anybody can do it, they really can. I teach at a gym and we teach kids as young as 5 years old with ADD and anger management problems or who are uncoordinated. We even teach older people at the gym. Our oldest customer is 67-years-old. So if you are in your teens, this is definitely a great time to try. I would love to have people come out and learn.

Q: A:

Are there any Parkour groups on campus?

There is a Parkour group here on campus; we meet every Friday evening at 5 p.m. outside of the JC (Johnson Center). This group has existed for years before I showed up. It has been growing since I have been posting my videos; more and more people have been showing up.

Check out Omar’s videos on his YouTube channel: ImpulseFreerunning Freshman Focus • 7

“When we conducted a movie night in the Enterprise lecture hall after school hours.”

Mohammed Promi

Life through a Lens: Carol Persons by Shaunie Holmes


arol Persons is a sensation that hit the George Mason University campus with a flash. Persons is a freshman at Mason who is known for her good looks, charm and awesome photography. You can typically find her around campus taking a photo shoot for her 365 Project, where she challenges herself to take and edit a marvelous photo every day for a year. When she’s not taking pictures, Persons is busy finding inspiration for her next photo. When talking about what moves her, she states that, “In my photography, I am inspired most by stories, feelings or the beauty of whatever I find. The best way to describe how I think is I remain constantly open-minded and ready for inspiration.” Later she dwells on her various forms of inspiration when she says that, “I allow myself to take in what I see and turn it into a story I can tell. This includes the way a tree may bend, or how the light hits my friend’s face or how the feeling of loneliness may at times consume us. I draw inspiration from many different places.” Persons’ heart was claimed by photography early on in her life. At age eight, Persons would steal her parent’s digital camera and take pictures of anything that tickled her fancy. From there her passion grew, and when she upgraded from a digital camera to a DSLR in 2011, she knew she was destined be a photographer. “Once I started shooting with models, I couldn’t stop. I can still remember my very first model shoot and the amount of pure joy and excitement I had,” says Persons. Sure

Photos: Carol Persons Photography

enough, after the exhilaration of her first photo shoot, she was hooked. Consumed with the love for the art, Persons came to Mason to major in photography. Persons describes how welcoming Mason has been to her art, saying, “I have grown as a photographer, a thinker and an editor; motivated by the teachers, the assignments and my fellow classmates… I’m looking forward to taking more photography classes here at Mason.” “I know for a fact that photography will be in my life as long as I am able to hold a camera. For fun and for myself, I will continue to take artistic, conceptual photos… I have no idea where the future will take me, but as long as I have my camera and my Photoshop program, I will be fine,” says Persons with a smile. Persons’ heart and soul are dedicated to photography, and regardless of where the wind blows her here at Mason, she will always carry her camera with her, to ensure she takes a picture of it.

I have no idea where the future will take me, but as long as I have my camera and my Photoshop program, I will be fine.

Freshman Focus • 8

Who We Are

“Getting to meet people from different states.” Sandy Vo

Freshman Focus • 9

Living, Breathing sPorts by Tyler Byrum


have been told that if your job is something you enjoy doing, you will never work a day in your life. Sports are a staple of my life and something I am passionate about, especially when it comes to talking about teams, players or anything to do with sports, and I decided I wanted to pursue a career in sports broadcasting. Early in the fall semester, I had a conversation with Mason Cable Network (MCN) about my interest in sports broadcasting. Before I knew it, I was broadcasting a Mason Club Football game, which led me to bigger and better things with MCN. When I was given the chance by MCN to be the first student to broadcast LIVE at a sporting event, I knew this was a sign of things to come in my time with Student Media and a stepping stone for the rest of my life. This opportunity led to me becoming a play-by-play commentator for basketball and lacrosse, and to becoming the Mason Cable News anchor. Being involved with MCN meant I always had something to do. There was never a time that I was bored and I always had something to look forward to. As a busy college student I appreciated that MCN did not take over my life and still allowed me plenty of time to be involved in other organizations at Mason. As a freshman, MCN showed me all of what Mason has to offer and allowed me to be a part of something I want to pursue as a career. My short time working with Mason Cable Network and Student Media gave me numerous experiences that sitting in a classroom could never teach me. After this early start to my academic career at Mason, I am excited to see how far MCN and I can grow together in the future. Photo: Amy Rose

Freshman Focus • 10

Who We Are

“Writing on the Soldier Wall and showing my Army support.” Andria Pemberton

the aMerican dreaM A by Valeria Sierralta

fter my parents’ divorce, my mother decided it was time to move to the United States in search of a better life. As a young immigrant from Peru, I struggled to find myself in a foreign country but eventually became inspired to be a first generation college student and represent my family in the land of opportunity.

With a heavy heart my father asks, “Honey, tell me how you really feel Has our separation been too hard to deal? I never wanted you to leave.”

Our family had always lived a luxurious life Then mom lost her job and stopped being dad’s wife My father was heartbroken when he heard about the move But mother was stubborn and had a reputation to prove I was not sure of what was happening then A child I was, had not reached the age of ten We packed our bags and silently wept But the memory of my family I have always kept A young immigrant I became In a place where I felt I no longer had a name It’s hard to explain how it felt to me I remember it wasn’t the place I wanted to be As if not being able to speak was my personal choice My inability to speak didn’t have a voice

After living a few years in the States, I remembered the hopeful faces I left behind at the airport gates They knew all along that it was for the best That I represent my Peruvian family throughout my educational quest Because I have the opportunity they never had To excel in school and be the �irst college grad After many years of living and studying here I can answer my father’s question, being sincere, Our separation has been dif�icult, but I can �inally see That George Mason University was the right choice for me I will always remember how we cried when I made the team Of the people who are living the “American Dream.”

Photo: Valeria Sierralta

Freshman Focus • 11

“Meeting new people/making new friends.” Anonymous

Mason’s Own Freshman Meteorologist

Nick Stasiak by Rachael Rutsky


Photo: Jake McLernon

hoosing a college was pretty easy for freshman meteorology major Nick Stasiak once he started considering all George Mason University had to offer. Between the great diversity of the campus and the school’s close proximity to the nation’s capital, Mason was everything Stasiak could want in a university – not to mention the outstanding programs Mason has in both atmospheric science and climate change. In addition to his academic interests, Stasiak quickly got involved in the extracurricular activities Mason offers. He joined a Living Learning Community (LLC) devoted to sustainability, a program which helps connect incoming freshmen with others who share their interests, joined Mason CRU and began training for a triathlon. The main project that Stasiak took on this year, however, was revolutionizing the way that Mason students get their weather by starting the very first weather page for the campus. “I do the weather for Connect2Mason,” says Stasiak. What most people do not realize when he says that is how much work actually goes into what seems like a simple task. The page itself, which runs on Facebook, has a weekly post or article to keep students interested. Beyond that, Stasiak is responsible for tracking the weather from his dorm 24/7, posting to Twitter, preparing the Mason community for the seasons and tracking big storms. Once all his data is collected, he shares the information he has learned with other weather stations all around the DC area so they know what is happening on and around campus.

Being a freshman allows Stasiak three more years to grow and expand upon his goals. He plans to take advantage of every opportunity he can in order to one day fulfill his career aspirations. “I see myself working with NASA, with solar flares or anything space-weather related.” “Mason has been really great about it,” said Stasiak in reference to his work on campus. Having a growing department -- which includes the second largest light-powered telescope on the East Coast -- is a huge advantage. Mason also has its own weather station powered by a team of world-class professors, explains Stasiak. “I feel like I have everything right here to better prepare myself for the future; I definitely feel like I can achieve all my goals by the time I leave here.” Stasiak has been an inspiration to many students, encouraging them to follow their passions and have fun in the process. Loving what you do is a crucial part of choosing a career and Stasiak has done just that. He has utilized the amazing resources Mason has to offer and had fun every step of the way.

Freshman Focus • 12

Who We Are

“When the tornado came, we made a mudslide.” Brandi Adams

Mason Freshman on Quest to Cure the Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis Virus

Alex Johnson by Ashley Palmer


lex Johnson, an 18-year-old freshman from Manassas, VA, spent her summer doing research in the National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Diseases. She spent over 40 hours a week for eight weeks working with graduate student Idris Hooper under Dr. Kylene Kehn-Hall on a virus known as Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis Virus (VEEV). VEEV is an infectious disease that is most common in South America, primarily in horses and donkeys. It is carried by mosquitos and can cause flu-like symptoms in humans. Not only can the virus be aerosolized (be made airborne) to be used as a bioweapon, it also kills equines infected with it in about 48 hours. “That’s a big problem because in South America, they’re used for transportation, they’re used in agriculture,” Johnson elaborates, “so if you’re killing off that part of their economy and their lifestyle, then it can cause a really big problem.” Johnson worked with the Biodefense Lab to test a therapeutic drug called Acriflavine, originally used to treat fungus in fish tanks. VEEV uses RNA in cells to replicate itself. Acriflavine is known to inhibit a protein that the VEEV virus uses in RNA, essentially killing the virus through a lack of replication. Undergraduate research, especially as a freshman, presents a unique learning opportunity and opens many doors and possibilities. Johnson recommends that anyone interested in research start early. “I think that a lot of students assume that they are too young or that they should wait until they take more classes and they are a junior or senior. But that is not true. If I am a professor, and

Photo: Alex Johnson

you are coming in, and you want to join my project as a senior, I am not getting anything out of you. And I have heard that from so many professors that I have talked to... If they are going to put in the time to train you, to go over their techniques and their procedures, and really make an investment in you, they want to know you are going to make a contribution. And you can not do that in a year. A lot of times, being a freshman talking to professors is kind of intimidating, but the earlier the better. Because then it is a win-win situation for both parties.” Johnson is interested in further research, working with bacteria or macroinvertebrates. As her freshman year begins to wind down, Johnson looks back on her time in the lab with fondness. “It is interesting to see how everyone works together… I think I was most surprised by the collaboration. In terms of skills, I learned a lot of things that make me feel very valuable and confident and competent.”

In terms of skills, I learned a lot of things that make me feel very valuable and confident and competent.

Freshman Focus • 13 “The amount of tools that are made available to help us out.” Cheyenne Washington

What Did You Do Over Spring Break?

by Savannah Norton


hile most people were vegging out on the couch or trying to beat the next level on their video game during George Mason University’s Spring Break, March 11-17, 2013, freshmen Brittany Grutter and Christine Harris were spending their time on a spring break alternative in Florida. Grutter is an Environmental Science and Policy major with a concentration in Aquatic Ecology. She chose to do the alternative spring break because the leaders in charge of the program lived on her floor. She was good friends with her fellow students in the Sustainability Living and Learning Community (LLC) and they made it sound really fun. “It had a lot to do with my major and I wanted to get a more hands on experience with that,” Grutter said. Harris a Biology major, plans to declare as a Sustainability Studies minor next year. Her older sister, a Mason senior, would take Harris to visit the Fairfax campus, “I fell in love with the campus,” she said. She chose to do this over spring break because she did not want to have just another spring break in Richmond. “I looked into it and I was like here is something I can do with my spring break and make an impact.” There were about 15 people on the trip, ranging from freshmen to seniors. “It was a 17-hour ride there, that was the most I

Photo: Charles Coats

have ever driven!” Harris admitted. “We got there and set up camp, it was cool because we weren’t just staying in a building, we were actually outdoors in tents.” Their days consisted of waking up early to start the day at 8:00 a.m. The people in charge would treat them really nicely and sometimes would wake up early and make them coffee when they got up. They had to wake up at around 7:30 a.m. Their days varied with fun activities to help the environment. “We did different things every day. The first day we did trail work at a couple different parks and then the second day we worked with Boston University at a Boy Scout camp removing downy rose myrtle, which is an invasive species in the area. The third day we went kayaking, got to see Hutchinson Island and we went out to our own little beach. The fourth day we planted a bunch of native species to the Florida area. The last day was reforestation. We put back shells against a channel to prevent erosion from waves that boats make,” said Grutter. Harris’s favorite day was when they got rid of the invasive species from an area. “We got rid of invasive species one day, which was probably my favorite day.” The invasive species was downy rose myrtle, which is not from the Florida Everglades area. “It was taking over,” Harris said, “There was this huge wall of it and our goal was to get through that. We were plowing away at it and cutting it down. We were all getting scratches and sweating. Then we got past the whole wall and we saw the water; it was so cool that we came together and did that.” Some of Boston University’s students were also there to help. Grutter had such a great time and when asked what memory stuck out the most to her, she could not answer because everything she

Freshman Focus • 14

Who We Are

“Camping trip during spring break.” Nishanth Fenn

Photos: Charles Coats

did on the trip was such a great experience. Grutter and Harris made new friends, “Living in the Sustainability LLC is very close knit,” said Grutter, “It was great to meet people outside of the LLC that also have sustainability and the environment as an interest. Since we have gotten back from the trip we have gone hiking together... we are also getting together to do more removals. It’s great!” But the best part of the trip might be the lifelong memories the students will always share. “We have a connection; we got to spend our spring break together doing something awesome!” said Harris. “Alternative breaks are great programs, I want to do it again next spring break.” said Grutter. “I had no idea that there was all of these beautiful state parks, and to see what impacts humans have on the parks and it was great to see what we could do to fix it,” said Harris. Both Grutter and Harris said they are

planning on doing it again next spring break. “It was cool to see other areas other than Virginia. We could tie back some of the issues going on in Florida to Virginia. I learned a lot from this trip. It’s different when you are actually doing the stuff with your hands and seeing it rather than just reading an article about it. I had no idea Mason had all of these opportunities,” said Harris. Other ways to get involved in the environment at Mason are through the Office of Sustainability, Green Patriots, and through the Organic Gardening Association, of which Harris is one of the presidents. Programs like these are a great way to get involved at Mason.

Alternative breaks are great programs, I want to do it again next spring break.

Freshman Focus • 15

“Going to DC for the first time with my friends because I felt independently away from home.” Janine Reguindin

Musician & the Music Producer

by Melissa Joe

Freshman Alicia Borromeo has started the project of making her own music promotion company while at George Mason University. She created her company, 202 Entertainment, last semester and is working Photo: Alicia Borromeo towards combining her passion of music with the business skills she hopes to attain at Mason.

Q: A: Q: A:

What is the main goal/purpose of your company?

Our main goal is to use the Internet to promote arists without the use of record labels. What made you want to get into the music business?

Everyone has that one thing they love and for me that’s music, but I do not think I am good enough at it to be a professional musician so I decided to go into the business side. It gives me a chance to still be involved in what I love.

Q: A:

Why is the company named 202 Entertainment?

It is the last 3 digits of the zip code for the city of Avalon, New Jersey where I spend my summers and I really got into music.

Q: A:

Where do you see this company going while you are at Mason?

Right now it is really a project and I am just seeing how it goes. Hopefully, I can book the bands I am promoting, and get them air time on the radio. And by doing all of this my company will gain exposure.

Q: A:

What’s your favorite part about Mason so far?

It has been great to be in an environment where everyone is diverse and has such unique talents and interests. Being only a short Metro ride away from D.C. is amazing. I really hope I can use the skills I learn here to really advance my company. Follow 202 Entertainment on Facebook at facebook. com/202entertainmentcompany or Twitter @202musicpromo.

Freshman Focus • 16

Who We Are

Freshman Brandon

Austin is a drummer in the local band, Archie. The band is a mix between pop punk, alternative and post hardcore music. They have been together and playing for just over a year and a Photo: Brandon Austin half and all hail from Fairfax County, Virginia. Archie consists of Seth Coggeshall (Lead singer/rhythm guitar, a senior at Langley HS), Nick Jones (lead guitar, a senior at Oakton HS), Blair Kilner (bass, a junior at Oakton HS) and Brandon Austin (drums, a freshman at Mason). They all plan and hope to go to Mason. Archie is planning on recording a fulllength album in summer 2013.

Q: A:

What bands influence you?

We are influenced by All Time Low, Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance, Jimmy Eat World, Memphis May Fire and Blink-182.

Q: A:

What inspires you?

Actually, we are inspired by our own subconscious and our literal dreams inspire our songs. They simply come to us in our sleep, and we all take our separate musical training to mix together the songs.

Q: A:

What is your favorite thing about performing live?

The best part about performing live is the response from the fans. You can never see them (because of the stage lights) but the hands in the air and the screams give you a feeling that you can’t really describe. It just warms you up inside and gives you a burst of energy.

Q: A:

What has been Mason’s effect on the band and your first year experience here?

It has not affected the band, but it has made it a little harder for us to practice, but with some teamwork I’m always able to get to where ever the practice is. My best experience would definitely be playing drums for the pep band at the basketball games and taking pictures at Mason Madness. Follow Archie on Facebook at archietheband or Twitter @archietheband. Their EP can be downloaded for free at dreams-equipped.

“Wale concert was very crazy, people were going ape!” Rishi Deshpande

The PL Experience

a jouney to becoming a patriot leader The first thing I ever saw at George Mason University, aside from a parking lot, was yellow shoes. They were attached to a student, of course. She was wearing a green polo with khaki shorts, pointing the way for freshmen and families. There were dozens of other students dressed the same way, but I was fixated. We all have insignificant moments that stick with us – little obsessions that we do not admit to out loud – but I am here to say I was obsessed with those shoes. When I pulled up to Mason for the first time, it was not for a tour; it was Orientation. I arrived worried. I had committed to a school I knew nothing about for the sake of affordability. I have always disliked change, so Mason was the last place I wanted to be. The class of 2016 gathered in the Center for the Arts and watched the Patriot Leaders (PLs) introduce themselves by skit. All of the activities Mason had planned were all I could ask for, except that I was alone in a sea of hundreds of freshmen who were also alone. We were divided into small groups, which was even worse, because I was expected to interact with others. I was not about that life. Awkward silence was our namesake, and my PL, Robertino, tried his best to make us talk and participate in games, which was exactly what I needed. I wanted to interact with the other freshmen, but I needed someone

by Melanie Miles

to push me. Robertino encouraged us to talk to the people near us, and beside me was a girl named Kelly Rene. Kelly seemed devoid of emotion, but throughout the day, we paired up as often as possible. And thanks to Robertino’s upbeat attitude, Orientation was an experience that changed my entire college outlook. I was excited to leave Richmond and start a new life two hours away. I even made a best friend, Kelly. Kelly and I both needed the Patriot Leader push; we needed someone to help us feel happy about this new step. Naturally, I realized I wanted to be a PL. The 2012 PLs had such a meaningful impact on my experience, I decided to do the same. Whenever something goes wrong, I remind myself that I am a Patriot Leader. Maybe it’s silly, but I’m ready for the summer. I even bought myself a pair of yellow shoes.

Becoming a Patriot Leader during my freshman year... has been one of the best decisions I have made thus far.

- Valeria Sierralta

Photo: Amy Rose

Freshman Focus • 17 “Orientation was pretty memorable - my favorite was Welcome Week, with so much going on.” Molly Keefer

by Andrew Leich, Class of 2016 President

Class Councils exist to establish a class identity and to create memorable events that coincide with George Mason University’s vision for an enriching college experience. Every week the members of the class cabinet meet to discuss new events and ideas drawing from one another and listening to suggestions from the student body as a whole. While the Class Council Association, founded only two years ago, is a relatively new organization, they have been busy. During the past two years, the organization has established an office in The HUB, spoken at Freshman Convocations and organized popular events like scavenger hunts and class karaoke nights! Event planning, though, is only part of what we do to foster school pride. When we are not creating events, our time is spent liaising to various offices around the Mason campus in order to create stronger campus ties. We network with offices such as Housing and Residence Life

to help spread the word about class-oriented events and to provide students with need-toknow information. We work with Dining Services on campus so there is sure to be free food at all of our events. In addition, we work with the Alumni Association, so even after you have graduated you can maintain a connection to your class. Class Councils are dedicated to improvement: improvement for the organization, improvement for the class and improvement for the Mason community. The doors are always open at the Class Councils’ office, and anyone who has an idea is welcome to share it with us, either online or in person. Even better, those who wish to take a more active role in leading their class have the opportunity to run for class officer positions every spring. We encourage everyone in the Mason community to get in touch or to come out to our events to see, first-hand, what Class Councils can do for you.

Andrew Leich, President

Photo: Amy Rose

A Class Act: Class Councils

To be successful at Mason, focus on your time management. Finding a work-life balance is crucial to maintaining academic performance and having an enjoyable social life.

Being successful at Mason is all about being open to any possibility. The more you keep your mind open to opportunities, the more there are sure to be!

Taylor Sprague, VP of Public Relations

Take the time to look around, see all that you have accomplished and let that continue to drive your success as a member of the Mason community.

Amanda Patarino, VP of Leadership Affairs

Freshman Focus • 18


“Going beyond my comfort zone... so many opportunities were out there.” Rachel Steiner

Photo: Michael Cushell

Being an Ambassador B

by Rachael Rutsky

efore I had even started my college career at George Mason University, I had applied to be in the Mason Ambassadors program. The Ambassadors program is an organization of volunteer students who work under the Office of Admissions. Duties for Ambassadors include giving campus tours, doing day shadows and supporting the Mason community any way we can. After my application was accepted and I went through the interview process, I was officially an Ambassador! I was very excited because they had only taken a small percentage of students who applied. We had an overnight training retreat and all new Ambassadors had to shadow three tours before being allowed to lead tours to visiting students and families completely on our own. As soon as I was trained and ready to give tours, I began to fill in time slots as often as possible. Giving a tour of a university is a lot different than taking one. When you’re an Ambassador giving tours, you are basically selling the school. You are responsible for giving these potential students all the information they need about Mason in order to make one of the biggest decisions of their lives. It might be a little nerve-racking at first, but once you finish your first tour on your own, you find being an Ambassador extremely rewarding. As I develop as an Ambassador and the season gets busier, the tours are composed mainly of students who have been accepted and need to make a deposit. This is my absolute favorite part. One tour I gave consisted of six potential nursing students. One had already made their confirmation deposit to Mason, and at the end of the tour, four more decided to as well. They each told me that it was my tour that made them fall in love with Mason and made them confident they were making the right choice. The fact that I could show them how amazing Mason is and how it becomes a home away from home is the best feeling in the world. Along with doing tours, Ambassadors also run the big recruiting events through the Office of Admissions: the Fall Preview and the Spring Premier. On these days, thousands of kids come out to see Mason. We take them on tours, they meet with advisors, and they also get to learn about all the student organizations we have here on campus. They are very fun days and it’s awesome to be a part of them - even worth having to wake up at eight in the morning! All in all, being a Ambassador has really shaped my freshman year. I have made tons of new friends, made plenty of connections with faculty, and had experiences I will never forget.

Freshman Focus • 19 “When I hosted a fashion show for a project in the JC and lots of people supported our cause.” Caitlin McMurray

110% heart: Mason FreshMan athLetes Photos: George Mason University Athletics

Freshman Focus • 20


Being a Mason athLete by Amy Rose


eing a George Mason University athlete is about more than just competing and aiming to win. It’s about being part of a team and growing together as one cohesive unit. Joining the rowing team here at Mason has given me a sense of teamwork like no other sport I’ve ever played. I remember the first time I ever raced like it was yesterday. The eight of us in the boat along with our coxswain waited anxiously at the starting line until we heard the official yell, “Attention. Go!” From then on, all thoughts left our minds as we focused on each stroke and keeping in sync with the person in front of us. Going around the last bend of the race and hearing the crowd cheering us on was such an incredible experience. It was such a great feeling at the end of the race, knowing all of us worked together, each of us pushing past our comfort zones with every stroke to reach the end of the course. Being on this team has been everything to me here at Mason. We’ve climbed so many mountains together, both literally and figuratively. I think of how far we’ve come from the first moment we stepped into a boat to where we are now and I am so proud of all of us. This journey we’ve made together has been tough but joyful, and along the way our team has formed a family. I’m proud to be on this team with such a great group of girls and coaches, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Rowing has helped me with time management and given me close friendships with my teammates.

- Juliana Moskowitz

Rowing has helped teach me discipline and the value of physical fitness.

- Brigitte Waugaman

Freshman Focus • 21 Photo: Amy Rose

the green Freshman Focus • 22


Machine “Meeting new people, staying connected, studying late in the J.C.” Erin Flanders

BLeeding green & goLd

by Savannah Norton


ot music? Then check out the resonant and rich beats of George Mason University’s very own pep band, aptly named the Green Machine.

The athletic band is directed by Dr. Michael Nickens (Doc Nix), and you can find the band entertaining the crowds at Mason basketball games and other special campus events. Kelsi Gray and Leland Powell, some of the proud freshmen playing for Doc’s Green Machine, joined at the beginning of the school year (Fall 2012). Gray plays keyboard and harp for the band and is really enjoying her first year on the team. “It’s really cool, at times you can hear the keyboard and vocoder and it’s like a mini solo!” Powell, who plays the tenor sax, loves the social atmosphere of the band. “Being a freshman in the Green Machine is a bit awkward at first, but then you get used to it and it’s really easy to make friends,” he says about his first year of performing. The spirited response from the crowds isn’t too bad, either: “I am excited for this homecoming game because we are going to kick ass, have fun and rock the house!” he says with a big smile. “My favorite thing about performing is the energy you feel from it. I can feel it from the whole stadium, not just the George Mason fans.” The events surrounding Homecoming at Mason allow many fans to indulge in the vibrant spirit,

and seeing the Green Machine rock out to music that gets the fans riled up to support their team is always a lasting memory. Whenever the band plays, you cannot help but to tap your feet or move your body along to the electric beats. “It feels great to know that people are getting pumped up and that makes us, as a band, get more pumped!” says Leland. If you are musically talented and enjoy being an integral member of Mason’s lively spirit, then you are a perfect candidate for joining the Green Machine! Doc Nix is extremely welcoming and is more than happy to talk with anyone who expresses an Kelsi Gray and Leland Powell, interest in the group. The team is also Green Machine Freshmen very welcoming to new members, and being a part of the band offers students Photos: Savannah Norton a great way to meet new people and be involved in an integral part of campus life and Patriot pride.

“Being in the Green Machine has amped my school spirit in a way I didn’t think was possible. The Green Machine is like a big family, and I’m so grateful to be a part of it.” - Madison Landis, vocalist

Freshman Focus 23Rose Photo:•Amy “Hanging with friends... and also the basketball games because [they are] free and cool!” Ibrahim Abdelhamid

by Rachael Rutsky


Photo: Amy Rose

fter a stressful last two years of high school, I had finally picked a college: George Mason University, almost four hours away from my home and family in Robbinsville, New Jersey. The drive down to Fairfax, Virginia is about as boring as it gets. Drive straight southbound until you cross the Delaware Memorial Bridge: that is the first leg. Keep driving straight until you go through the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel: that is the second leg. Go around D.C. on I-495 and get off on route I-66: the Mason Exit. That is the traffic-filled third leg. Ideally, this drive is 3-hours when avoiding rush-hour, it really did not seem that bad. Move-in went smoothly, and my room was all set up. We had tons of help carrying my endless boxes and suitcases down thin hallways into my room. My closet was full, and my desk already covered in school books. I was slowly getting acquainted with my two roommates. Both of them seemed nice, and it would not be too bad living together, but sharing a room with two other girls seemed like the worst idea ever. Three beds, three wardrobes, three desks and three nightstands. Definitely a lot of furniture. Now, add three hampers, extra drawers, two fridges, a microwave and three girls. Total chaos. Four days later, and I was pulling my hair out. One room for three girls is definitely not a good idea. Both roommates invited their boyfriends to spend the evening, and left me to sleep on the floor of my friend’s room two nights in a row, one of which was the night before classes started. The two of them were really getting along, but they were totally different from me. Being out of state and away from home started to seem terrible. I kept a positive outlook while I walked to class with a sore back and a crick in my neck. Once my school day was done, I gathered up my books and went to talk to my RA. I explained my situation and held my breath as I waited for a response. “We need stronger grounds for you to qualify for a room change,” my RA said. I could not believe it. Not being comfortable in my own space was not a good enough reason for me to move? I took a few deep breaths and sat down at a table outside her office so I could call my mom. I hung up the phone and slowly strolled back to my room, chin to my chest. As I walked in my empty room, I put my backpack on its rightful hook, and sat at my desk, head in hands. A few days later, after contemplating how to deal with the situation, I received an e-mail from my resident director approving my room switch. I accepted in what seemed like half a millisecond. I was headed to the newly renovated freshman dorms: The Commons. My new room was perfect, and my roommate was even better. The two of us hit it off. All it took was a few bits of paperwork and my college career was ready to begin.

coLLege had Me

Freshman Focus • 24


“I love living in the Commons. The dorms are so nice!” Anonymous

The Ideal Dorm Room 1) Bedding - Matching with your roommate is a must! 2) Mirror - For that one day a week you dress up for class.

3) Speakers - To pump up music or tunes when studying.

4) Fridge - Leftovers, snacks and ice-cold drinks.

e Living, a BLast

5) Microwave - EZ Mac and Ramen will be your best friends.

6) Printer - Quick and easy printing. 7) TV - Catching sporting events, TV

series or having movie nights.

8) Closet organizers - Moving

your whole wardrobe to a closet is not easy.

9) Hamper - Time to start doing your own laundry! 10) Posters - Bands, movies or anything you love. 11) Pictures - Friends and family

from home, this way you won’t miss them.

12) Armchair pillow - Studying in

bed becomes so much better.

13) Cork Board - Hanging up your

college memories.

14) Rug - As clean as the dorm Photos: Amy Rose

floors are...

Freshman Focus • 25

“Living in the Park because it’s like its own community.” Mackenzie Bailey

The Cornerstones Connection M

by Tameka Parker & Rachel Steiner

aking the transition from high school to college can be a challenging experience, especially when it comes to making sure you get a good start on meeting all of your general education requirements. But thanks to New Century College and its Cornerstones program, that process is made a little easier for incoming Patriots. Each year, roughly 175 freshmen get the opportunity to participate in Cornerstones, a program that helps first-year students earn up to 24 credits that go towards their general education requirements. This is made possible through taking the program’s four New Century Learning Community (NCLC) courses: two 6-credit classes in the fall semester and two 6-credit classes in the spring semester. Each of these classes is small and discussionbased, covering interdisciplinary material in their curricula while allowing every student to foster meaningful relationships with the wonderful professors that instruct them. Through this enriching experience, students also get an opportunity to develop close relationships with other first-year peers during a process of experiential learning. Some of the program’s activities include exciting field trips to various museums and multi-cultural venues in Washington, D.C., providing many freshman with a unique educational experience that goes far beyond traditional learning styles. Selected students are also offered the chance to live in the Cornerstones Living Learning Community (LLC) with fellow classmates for even further-reaching connections. By living in the LLC, students are able to work together outside of the classroom, which is especially helpful for developing a sense of teamwork and collaboration. According to Zenobia Brown, who currently lives in the LLC, says, “being in the LLC has given me the opportunity to meet people with different opinions

and backgrounds, which helped me find my comfort zone easily in college.” In addition to living with their Cornerstones peers, students also take the LLC class, Capitol and Community. This class fosters civic engagement and allows the students to go beyond the classroom and explore the nearby Washington D.C. as well as their own college campus. Not only does this New Century College program assist in getting the university experience started on a good note, but it ensures that its participants take away skills that help them become more actively aware members of their communities for years to come. Cornerstones student Vishrut Shelat says, “I would recommend this program to any student who is looking to finish their gen ed requirements in one year. Because of Cornerstones, I made great friends, connections with teachers and could take classes where grading was based on essays and not quizzes and tests. Overall, I would recommend this program to any student that wants to transition into college smoothly and effectively.” Cornerstones provides freshmen with the benefits of jumpstarting academic progress, participating in memorable experiences, and making life-long friends, which make its motto - Connecting Your Classroom to the World - quite an appropriate one, indeed.

One of the things that I really like about Cornerstones is that the classes are small and discussion based which gives me the chance to interact with and get to know the students in a way that I couldn’t if it was a big lecture class.

- Prof. Michael Gilmore

Photo: Craig Zaccaro

Freshman Focus • 26


“Meeting all the wonderful people on my floor and gaining friendships.” Anonymous

Photos: Amy Rose

LiFe on caMPus

by Jessica Price

Living on campus your freshman year opens you up to countless opportunities and memories. As a freshman living on campus, you will live in one of two neighborhoods that Mason has that is set aside for the freshmen. The first freshmen living area is called President’s Park. In the “Park” as it is referred to, you can enjoy the late night diner, Ike’s, and be within steps of the Aquatic and Fitness Center to get in a good morning workout before or in between classes. The other neighborhood is called the Commons. The Commons is a little bit larger in terms of housing, but also has a late night diner, gym, and a sit down restaurant called Southside. It is here where you will meet best friends that you will stay close with for the rest of your life. As I asked students around campus what they thought about living on campus freshman year, many of them

replied with answers that highlighted the fact that it is easier to make friends and get involved in activities. But, since not every incoming freshman is able to live on campus, I asked a freshman why commuting to campus was a better situation. “It is cheaper and less overwhelming than seeing so many people every day,” he replied. Being an off-campus student also has its advantages. It is a lot less expensive, and you do not have to eat the same campus food every day. Living on-campus provides you with the opportunity to be closely involved with other students and independent. While both on and off-campus students will find great experiences, opportunities, and the time of their lives here at Mason, one thing is for sure, no matter where you go or what you do, here at Mason you will always have your Patriot family.

by Savannah Norton Freshman year! So many opportunities and new experiences to come. You start to worry about buying your books, what new clothes you should buy to look more grown up and things to decorate your room with. Suddenly the thought hits you, “I am going to have to live with someone (or other people) this year!” You may be excited or even ecstatic. But there may also be another part of you that is scared to face such a radical difference in your life. You may have no idea what it’s like to have a roommate. Here are some basic things you should know about sharing a living space. Set boundaries right away. It is good to talk to your roommate once you have both moved in about specific things you do or do not like. For example, what time you usually go to sleep, what time your first class is, whether or not you mind sharing foods, when it is good to have friends over and when it is not. Talking about this right away will put you in a good place with your roommate and you will not butt heads about these simple things.

“Do you have a significant other?” Some students are really excited to be away from home and that means spending more time with their boy/girl friend and this can even mean sleepovers. Talk to your roommate right away about who can be over and if it is alright for others to stay overnight. Everyone has different views, and though it can be awkward asking these questions you will be more comfortable in your living space if you know what is going on. You do not have to be best friends with your roommate. You may go into freshman year thinking you are going to be best friends. This is not always the case. You could really bond with your roommate or you could have little conversation with them every day. All you have to do is be cordial and nice. You both will be spending a lot of time in the room and may get tired of always being around each other. You can talk about times of the day you want the room to yourself for things like Skyping family and friends or making phone Freshman Focus • 27 calls. Just be respectful.

“When someone pulled the fire alarm in Tidewater and it was snowing out.” Sue Chan

by William Granados & Bridget Lane


f you work with the Office of Off-Campus Student Programs and Services, or get involved in the Off-Campus Student Council, you can connect with other off-campus students and learn their stories, joys and struggles.

The commuting experience is different for everyone, but for freshman Bruno Pareja, commuting has proved to be a difficult balancing act. While he expected that commuting would be difficult, Pareja was not prepared for the many challenges that came with it. “I originally decided to commute in order to save money, but it’s proven to be a challenge,” Pareja says. Pareja’s first two semesters as a commuter have become a learning experience. Pareja wakes up around 7:30 a.m. in the morning in order to get to his 9 a.m. class. After his usual morning routine, he gets on the road and makes the fifteen mile drive through traffic to get to campus. Pareja says that “getting to class is a hassle but doable if I wake up early enough to beat the congestion on 495.” Due to the heavy road traffic, his 30-minute commute could easily become a 50-minute commute depending on the traffic. For Bridget Lane, the commuting experience has proven to be a brighter, more enjoyable one. Fifteen minutes off of campus, Lane has a drive that is a straight shot down Braddock Road. Her typical day starts around 7 or 8 a.m. An hour later, she can be found eating breakfast, doing homework, reading a good book or rushing off to an early morning meeting for one of the many on-campus student organizations she is involved with. “Being off-campus is certainly a challenge,

Freshman Focus • 28


but I wouldn’t trade it or change it for the world,” Lane says, “the freedom and independence being off-campus allows, while still being able to be so involved in school, lets you to mold your experience to be whatever you want it to be.” For Lane, the experience has only led to her being more involved than most on-campus students. “I really wanted a home here, and I’ve found it now in so many campus orgs. I can’t imagine my resume would be so long had I been dorming.” As a commuter, you have some huge plusses: having your own space that is not cramped with sick college kids, not having to worry about getting a bad roommate and coming home to a hot meal and an open refrigerator, even at midnight. While being a commuter can often be a challenge, when played right there is nothing that will give you more real-world experience or drive to do well than being able to connect with friends while going home to your own bed. The doors are open to you here at Mason - take them.

Even though I don’t live on campus, I still feel like I have a really good connection here.

- Rahib Zaman

Photo: Jake McLernon

the LiFe oF an oFF-caMPus student

the oFF-caMPus student

by Valeria Sierralta

For me to be the one to tell you how it really is, is only prudent The following rhyme is what is what I learned in my �irst year of being an off-campus student. George Mason parking is not the best, But here are some tips to keep you from getting stressed. It is important to look up the campus map before your �irst day, This will help you plan what parking lots to use as well as create a plan for �inding your way. Depending on the parking pass bought, You can chose from a few parking lots to get a good spot. You can park in lots A, C, H, K, L, M, O, P and PV with a general parking pass, All of them are available but I suggest choosing the one nearest to your class. Besides class location, it is always hard to �ind a place to park at school My advice is for you to leave early and keep it cool: I many times underestimated my traveling time, Especially because I didn’t realize there were times that were prime. Keep in mind that you need at least �ifteen minutes to �ind a spot. This is true for any type of GMU parking lot. Aside from these nine lots, there are three other parking decks. I will take a few stanzas to explain these next: Rappahannock, Shenandoah and Mason Pond Deck are the three, But Rappahannock’s bottom two �loors are the only ones that are free.

If you want your own reserved parking space, there is a pass you can get, It is more expensive but at least you know it’s a safe bet. Don’t test your luck and park illegally because Mason police are all around: They give tickets all the time during their rounds! Parking needs some getting used to, But that’s true for most things that are new. I advise you to get as involved as you can, Even if you have to create a daily plan.

At the end of the day, GMU provides off-campus students with all the means To get involved while earning our degrees. Despite misconceptions, off-campus students experience college in a great way, It just depends on the decisions you make each and every day. Even though there will be a lot on your plate, You will be busy in a good way because collge is great! Start the year with a clean slate, do what you want to do: College is what you make it; it is all up to you!

Photo: Jake McLernon

Freshman Focus • 29

“Going out of town with my best friend because we were living our own unique lives.” Eric Kosinski

by Anne Harris

Bus Fuss

I remember the first time I ever rode a George all around the Fairfax Campus, from locations such as Mason University shuttle. It was late September, and Sandy Creek and Masonvale all the way to the RAC and my roommate Lexi (name has been changed), who has even the Mason Inn. This shuttle is ideal for traversing lived in this area her entire life, suddenly found herself the campus when it is rainy or when your parking spot is without any clothes suitable to endure the harsh Virginia annoyingly far away from your dorm. The West Campus winter. Naturally, this called for a trip to the mall. At Express transports passengers from the West Campus lot this time, Lexi and I were still clinging desperately to the to President’s Park, and is ideal for freshmen who want hope that we one day might become friends. Neither direct transportation from their parking spot to their of us had anything in common other than the desire to dorm in the park, or vice versa. find something in common with the other. So when she Gunston’s Go Bus, the most popular bus asked if I would come with her, I agreed. I knew this was amongst Mason freshmen, takes students from Sandy my chance to find some shared Creek all the way to Fair Lakes ground with my roommate, as we Center, making stops at the Take advantage of $5.00 would have tons of time to talk University Mall, Fairfax Corner and bond on the 45-minute shuttle Wednesdays at the Rave Cinema and the Fair Oaks Mall. This ride. in Fairfax Corner, or go shopping shuttle is the go-to bus for the We walked up the hill to with friends at any of the mall’s best shopping and dining Fairfax the Sandy Creek shuttle stop and, has to offer. Take advantage 150 plus stores. after waiting a bit, found our seats of $5.00 Wednesdays at the on Gunston’s Go Bus. Fifteen Rave Cinema in Fairfax Corner, minutes later we arrived at the Fairfax Corner shuttle or go shopping with friends at any of the mall’s 150 stop. plus stores. At the end of the day, stop by Josie’s in “Cool fountain,” I said. “Yup,” she said. University Mall for a huge cup of delicious frozen yogurt. And we rode the rest of the way in painful The Mason to Metro Shuttle takes a student silence. Okay, so my first shuttle experience was far to the Vienna metro station, where, once a fare-card is from ideal. However, once I started riding the shuttles purchased, the possibilities are endless. Students can more and more, I began to appreciate the benefits. I plan a fun weekend trip to D.C. with their friends, and soon discovered the many wonders of the Prince William visit museums, monuments, restaurants and all the little shuttle, which takes a person to Manassas and back hidden treasures scattered around our nation’s capitol. via the Manassas Mall and the Prince William Campus. Heading the complete opposite direction is I could now meet my mom in Manassas for lunch or the Prince William Shuttle, which provides students have lunch with my best friend after her classes at transportation to Mason’s Prince William Campus via the NOVA. Some days, I would take Gunston’s Go Bus back Manassas Mall. The Prince William Campus is home to to Fairfax Corner for a late lunch. If I were feeling really the Freedom Aquatic and Fitness Center, which boasts crazy, I would have lunch at the mall. one of Northern Virginia’s largest swimming pools. The The Campus Circulator shuttle takes students shuttle also stops at the Hylton Performing Arts Center.

Freshman Focus • 30 Photo: Jake McLernon


“Going to Day Glow. I met a lot of people from Mason on the way.” Tifffany Bean

Get involved, attend events and find great

FreshMan FreeBies

Freshman Focus • 31 Photo: Walter Martinez

student Media My most memorable moment working at Student Media was...


ring the w 48 straig inter storm fo r ht hours .” Nick Sta siak

n sports talk “...having my ow radio show!” Jesse Robinson

st the broadca LIVE.” able to s g e in m e a b g “... tball Club foo yrum Mason B Tyler

“...bein g ab Amer le to interv ican C iew G a Came nyon Band reat ron Sh .” uler

Freshman Focus • 32


“It’s awesome that there is so much to do right from the get go.” Robert Horan

FreshMan aLBuM My most memorable moment of freshman year at Mason was...

ead horse h ith thSehake video w y u g en thaeson Harlemugh my doyrm “...wh ro m in thcek M head th red me, ds ” stu inhdisow and dscaall our frien w ate, anary Oakey roomm M

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second to la Nathan st place ” Gardun o

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FreshmanPhotos: FocusLeslie • 33Steiger “Meeting new people who don’t know your past.” Marcey Kostella

Mason LgBtQ

by William Granados

George Mason University’s diversity can best be seen in its students, and this diversity is prevalent in Mason’s LGBTQ community. From its LGBTQ Resource Center to Pride Week, many different ways exist for freshmen to get involved within the community. One of the ways most freshmen get involved is through the weekly Pride Alliance meetings held in the Johnson Center. These weekly meetings provide students with information on events that challenge the LGBTQ community, while providing a supportive place for students to voice their opinions. For ally and freshman Ruby Brown, Pride Alliance meetings have served as a great way for her to support her friends and others. “Pride Alliance is great and I’ve made many great friends,” Brown says. Brown also adds that “Pride Alliance meetings cover several topics that are often times unheard of or ignored due to their intense nature, but Pride Alliance covers these topics in a supportive and delicate manner.” Topics ranging from feminism to identity have been covered, and for people like Brown, there is always something new that they learn at each meeting. The LGBTQ Resource Center in Student Union Building 1 provides several resources for students in the community, while also being a safe zone for all. Students can be found getting assistance, completing work, or just talking with

friends. Freshman Graham Ferguson has made several visits to the office and has found it to be a comforting place. “Whenever I’m at the Resource Center, I can be found working on assignments for class,” Ferguson said. When talking about the people at the Resource Center, Ferguson said “There are always different people to talk to and I’ve made several friends because of the office.” As a result, the Resource Center has become a popular place for freshmen who seek to make connections with other students. Other services, including assistance with personal issues, can be found at the Resource Center as well. Mason aims to make the campus an inclusive place where all are welcome no matter their background. Events such as Pride Week reinforce support for the LGBTQ community by holding several events that highlight the great work by people within the community. Ferguson is proud that the Mason community is supportive of the LGBTQ community and he is glad that the campus has many programs and services available. “The LGBTQ services on campus have provided me with many friends and I feel that I have a great support system on campus now,” he says. For freshmen who seek more information, the LGBTQ website provides more information the programs and resources that are available to students.

Photo: William Granados

Freshman Focus • 34


“WGMU, Honors College research and LGBTQ metro area symposium.” Tom Shaw

GL101: Intro to Greek Life Ever wondered what it was like to go Greek? Photo: Amy Rose

by Matt Yelverton One of the biggest things freshmen worry about upon entering college is finding a new place to belong. In high school, your group of friends just kind of falls into place: members of your sports team, kids in band or students in your classes. For some people, it is so natural you don’t even think about it. Then the first day of college comes, Mom and Dad leave, you are in an entirely new place and, for me at least, friends from home were spread out not only all over the state, but all over the country. Choosing something to get involved in and devote myself to was difficult, but through Greek life I found something to fill that void. Going into Rush Week, I knew a fraternity was an option for a social life and a way to get involved in community service around Mason, something I

am passionate about continuing during my college years. Along with encompassing more activities than a community service club would, I felt going Greek would allow me to meet more people with a greater diversity of interests and personalities. Beyond a doubt, the Mason Greek Life scene had something to offer me. Whatever you are looking for in a group of friends, there is a Mason fraternity or sorority for it. I ended up choosing to join the fraternity I think is the best in areas of the culture and the drive to constantly improve. While the decision to go Greek is a big one that will most undoubtedly affect your next four years at Mason, for me being a part of my fraternity makes going to school a little more like coming home.

by Matt Yelverton & Laura Kay Sherman Many freshmen come to George Mason University with prior leadership experience and a desire to continue their active involvement at a college level. For some members of the Greek community, that opportunity is found through the Junior Panhellenic Council (JPAN). A new branch of the Panhellenic Council, JPAN helps address the needs of new members of the six Panhellenic sororities and reaches out to women interested in joining the Greek community. Introduced in 2012, JPAN is comprised of a representative from each sorority, giving them the chance to improve new member experiences in Greek life. Freshman Codie Hammond, one of six JPAN executive board members, represents Alpha Phi sorority as the Vice President of Programming. Through this position, she has been able to take a leading role in coordinating and overseeing the events held for freshman members of Greek life, as well as planning for future leadership programs and opportunities. “Through JPAN, I’ve been able to develop my own leadership skills and participate in an active way in the Greek life here at Mason,” says

Hammond. Being in charge of programs, actively pursuing new members through introductory events is another way JPAN can help support the Panhellenic Council. According to Hammond, JPAN has “given us the chance to reach out to girls interested in Greek life in a comfortable, friendly way – we’re the same age, so we readily understand the freshman experience.” President Najeeba Gootee says that JPAN gives women the opportunity to take on leadership positions that weren’t previously established or available to them in high school. “It gives the younger Mason population something to put their energy towards,” says Gootee. Junior Panhellenic Council is designed to be a vehicle for new student leadership and involvement in Greek life at Mason, and works to promote ‘Going Greek’ as an option for campus involvement. The women serving on the Council gain a sense of responsibility early on in their college careers and are further prepared for future positions and leadership opportunities in the years to come.

Freshman Focus • 35 “Joining my sorority because it was a lifelong commitment.” Saadia Nahim

student invoLveMent by Matthew Morrison and includes tasks such as creating the organization’s constitution, finding a faculty advisor and filling out some paperwork. It is my belief that one of the most fulfilling things a student could do at Mason is to begin their own student organization. Even if there seems to be little to no interest amongst your peers, if you are passionate about something that is not recognized by an existing organization, there are great benefits to taking up the initiative to form the group yourself. Not only do you make a lasting mark on Mason’s campus, you also meet amazing people, learn to lead and have fun along the way.

Photo: Matthew Morrison

As a freshman at George Mason University, I decided to start a chapter of the International Justice Mission, an international organization that raises awareness and rescues as many of the estimated 27 million slaves in the world as possible. I decided to start the organization because I wanted to make the Mason campus aware that slavery still exists, even here in our own country, and even in Washington, D.C. It was and is my goal to educate the student body not only on sex trafficking, the main source of today’s slavery, but also on forced labor, which still exists even in today’s modern society. The process of starting a student organization at Mason was actually not as difficult as many students may think. The process is fairly simple to complete. However, it does require some time and effort

by Niki Papadogiannakis

Photos: Broadside and C2M

Freshman Focus • 36


organization that reflects a career aspiration. If you are unsure, the Office of Student Involvement programs like Patriot Activities Council and being part of class councils creates leadership experience, which is important in most careers. Take advantage of Welcome Week; this is the time to actually look at the organizations available rather than just walking around looking for free stuff. Take advantage of all of the opportunities that your tuition dollars give you. College is not only going to class, and cramming for an exam. It is also making connections, gaining experiences and learning practical skills. Sometimes it is hard to realize, but once you get involved it will create an even more holistic college learning experience.

Photo: Niki Papadogiannakis

My first semester, I had so much empty time and I felt disconnected from the Mason community, especially since I was on campus only a couple hours a day and spent half an hour commuting. I enjoyed my classes, but I cannot stand to not be busy. That is where my love for journalism came in. When I applied to Mason, I already knew I wanted to be involved with the newspaper. When I registered for classes at Orientation, I found the Newspaper Workshop course and I knew I had to register for it. That class was the path that led me to become Broadside entertainment editor and then news editor. Even though it is time consuming and very hard work, I would be incredibly bored without it. Most incoming freshmen have no idea what options are available for them to get involved. In college, a student’s primary goal is to work towards a career, so the best way to get involved is to look for an

“Joining Urbanknowlogy because I was part of a team.” Marcey Kortella

by Incoming Student Body President & VP, Jordan Foster and Samantha Wettasinghe

Photo: Alexis Glenn/Creative Services

by 2012-2013 Student Body President, Alex Williams If I have learned one thing at George Mason University, it is that people matter. The greatest resource we can offer is ourselves. When you help people, you empower them, and in so doing, others become capable of bringing amazing ideas into action. What you see at Mason—a rapidly

you will grow and learn how you can offer yourself to others and ask them, “How can I help?” As I prepare for the next steps in my life, I do not know what challenges I will face and what problems I will encounter. I take comfort in approaching this unknown with the knowledge that people

Seek out challenges and opportunities here — they are waiting for you to engage them. To paraphrase Professor Dumbledore, ‘Help will always be given at Mason to those who ask for it.’

growing campus, new academic programs every semester, a community newly engaged in the surrounding Fairfax area and becoming a powerhouse in the DC metro region—is all the product of people helping other people. So often in my time here, whether I was planning an event or facilitating a dialogue, the one question upperclassmen, faculty and administrators asked me was, “How can I help?” As you join our community, you will be asked that same question. And as you experience Mason,

can help and I can help people. In the words of Mr. Rogers, “You will always find people who are helping.” No one can define your Mason experience for you. For all that you will likely encounter—the inclusive and diverse community, a potent spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation—how you engage others and what you walk away with will be up to you. As you join our community and experience Mason, know that we are here for you. As for what that experience will be—that is up to you.

“Joining student senate in the fall.” Alexander Colorado

When we first entered George Mason University as freshmen, we had two initial goals: Start filling out our resumes, and make friends. Without a doubt, we can say that getting involved has been a huge piece of us building great resumes and forming lasting friendships. Becoming an active student at Mason is a road with many possibilities. You can play a sport (be it varsity, intramural, or club), join a Registered Student Organization (RSO), Greek life, Patriot’s Activity Council, participate in community service or join Student Government. Each piece of the Mason student community provides opportunities for students to find a community and gain valuable leadership experience. Schoolwork may be the most important reason for all of us attending Mason, but this is not our only source of education. The skills a student

gains when interacting with their peers in a structured environment transcend any major or concentration. Involvement is a key piece of the collegiate experience, and the piece of attending Mason that puts us on the same playing field, builds character and connects the community. But above all else, becoming active is fun. These are the experiences that build the largest piece of whatever your impression of Mason is. You will remember your sophomore Greek organization formal a lot better than you will remember your sophomore GPA or even what classes you took that year. Don’t let these opportunities pass you by. Your first few weeks of college will present you with myriad opportunities. Learn from older students, ask questions when needed and you will be sure to have a great college experience and meet amazing people. Photo: Stanley Heaney

Freshman Focus • 37

The Freshman 15

by Shaunie Holmes

My scale had gone mad! Or, so I thought when I looked down and saw I gained roughly fifteen pounds in my first semester at George Mason University. The new pounds could explain my sexy shorts not fitting and my occasional gasping for life when I walked up the hills on campus. How could this happen? I was active everyday when I walked to and from my classes and activities. I thought about why my body went on strike and decided to gain this weight instead of being slim like I was in the glorious high school days. Then it hit me. Epiphany struck, and everything became clear. It was the all the tempting food on campus; from the wings at Red Hot and Blue to the irresistible, mouth-watering, Old-Bay-seasoning-coated-heaven French fries at Ikes! Devouring it all with no remorse in my heart is what led me to this horrible fate of gaining the dreaded… Freshman Fifteen. This senseless and saddening event happening on my scale had to be undone as soon as possible. So I did what any other person would do: I went to the godfather for people suffering from the Freshman Fifteen. I had no other choice; I had to go to the GYM. Mason did us all a wonderful favor by giving

us workout facilities that are free and not intimidating. And it seemed I had finally gained the courage—or incentive—to visit one. There I was with my running shoes and sweat-band, ready to free myself of my new pounds, and as I looked around the Aquatic Center I realized that I was not alone on my journey of losing weight. I will tell you honestly that this mission was not easy. There were times when I cried, and other times where I screamed at my scale and sexy shorts for taunting me. But luckily after the first two weeks things became easier, and I finally started losing weight. After countless spin classes, Zumba classes, and weight machines, I did it! Weeks later I was running down the halls of Washington First, screaming at the top of my lungs,“I look so good!” while wearing my sexy shorts. I realized victory was mine and the pounds were gone. Take that French fries, bread, and everything else deliciously covered in grease! I did it. I lost the weight thanks to Mason’s workout facilities. I was slim again, and to this day I find myself in the gym weekly, so that history does not repeat itself.

Photo: Amy Rose

Freshman Focus • 38


A Letter from President Cabrera

Photo: Amy Rose

Hello Freshman, I congratulate you for making a great decision—to attend college and especially George Mason University. This decision will affect you in many positive ways for the rest of your life and it will affect the lives of many others. The next time you see the University’s formal seal, I hope you will pay attention to the motto: “Freedom and Learning.” In many ways, this motto connects us with our namesake, the American Patriot, Founding Father and author of the Bill of Rights, George Mason. It reminds us that these two precious ideas cannot exist without the other. In order to be free—free to be who we are and who we want to become, free to act for positive change— we can never stop learning. And in order to learn, we need to be free to think and express our thoughts. It is only when we confront our views with the views of others that we learn. Learning is not about proving ourselves right, but about discovering why we may be wrong. As an academic community, we all share the responsibility to advance both freedom and learning. Our top priority at George Mason University is YOU. We are committed to providing you with a transformational learning experience to help you grow as an individual, as a scholar, and as a professional. You have joined a large, diverse academic community. It may seem overwhelming at first trying to find your place, but you will. To make this experience the most rewarding for you, to ensure that you and everyone else can achieve both freedom and learning, here’s my advice: yy yy yy yy yy yy yy yy

Engage with the diverse people and ideas around you, especially with those who are different from you Respect the differences among us and be open to different opinions Be honest and act with integrity Be curious and ask questions Get involved with an activity that helps others Use your creativity Challenge yourself and take a class or engage in an activity you believe you are not good at Have fun and make sure others do too!

There are many, many resources at Mason to help you grow and succeed. Take advantage of them. Go to the free arts programs, sit in on a forum, and use Career Services. If you are having any difficulties, see your advisor or a counselor as soon as possible. You can find helping hands everywhere you turn. I will be seeing you around campus. Please say hi!

Angel Cabrera

President, George Mason University

Freshman Focus • 39 “Playing club volleyball because I have gained a second family and met a lot of great people.” Scott Steiner

Pathways to Success This is a big transition in your lifetime of accomplishments. Give yourself a break and know that what might feel uncomfortable (meeting new people, learning new information, living away from your family) in the first few weeks will shift quickly. You will find your place – or places – at Mason. (And if that’s not happening, come see me, I will help you figure it out!) Get involved on campus. Find a student group, an activity, a class, or a cause that you can dive into. College is a time for you to explore and commit to something…. as many times as you need to find out what you are truly passionate about doing in (and for) the world. Have fun and welcome to Mason! Rose Pascarell Vice President, University Life

Pamela Patterson

Assistant Vice President & Dean of Students, University Life Go to class, get involved, engage in activities that stretch your perspective and cultivate greater self-awareness, ask for help when you are overwhelmed, be committed to your own wellbeing and savor your college experience!

Todd Rose

Associate Dean, University Life Success in your freshman year comes down to a few things: Be your own person, keep an open mind and take responsibility for every aspect of your life.

Photo: Evan Cantwell/Creative Services

First of all, congratulations!! You’ve successfully made it through high school and you are ready for the next great adventure – you are now part of a university community, but more importantly, you are now a member of the fabulous Mason community of faculty, staff, and students. Whether you are the first in your family to go to college or part of a long tradition of college-bound family members, we are ready to help you be successful.

Brent Ericson

Asstistant Dean of Students Play it safe by making positive and healthy decisions. Be sure to understand the Mason Code of Conduct and show respect for yourself, others and those in our community.

Christine Y. Cruzvergara

Director of University Career Services Repetition builds reputation. The choices you make now and every day forward will shape how others see you. Think about it.

Lewis Forrest

Associate Director, Women & Gender Studies Go see your professors! We teach because we love to interact with students. We want to learn more about you and have you ask questions.

Executive Director, Early Identification Program (EIP) As a freshman it is important to surround yourself with the right people, and make it a priority to be active in your new community. Your experience here at Mason is only what you make of it!

Nicholas Lennon, Director

Dennis Hicks

Angie Hattery

Leadership Education and Development Get involved on campus (and in the community), make a real effort to meet people who are from different backgrounds than you.

Freshman Focus • 40


Associate Director, Office of Student Involvement There are a ton of opportunities on campus. Find that ONE thing you love doing and put your heart into it.

Dr. Joya Crear

Associate Dean, University Life You have all you need to succeed. Your family and high school has prepared you for this incredibly exciting time in college. It may not always be fun or easy, but be confident that you have the ability and Mason has the resources together combined will help you succeed. Remember: Challenge yourself to expand your comfort zone and trust your intuition.

Amy Takayama-Perez

Dean of Admissions Get involved and make connections with students, faculty and staff. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it, and, of course: rock the green and gold.

Lisa M. Gring-Pemble

Associate Dean and Associate Professor, New Century College and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences Adrienne Rich asserts in her renowned essay “Claiming an Education” that “You cannot afford to think of being here to recieve an education; you will do much better to think of yourselves as being here to claim an education....This is the experience of taking responsibility towards yourselves.” What does this mean? As you embark on this adventure, care for your physical self (sleep well, eat healthy foods, exercise regularly); challenge your intellectual self (achieve your fullest potential, meet a real librarian, get to know your professors), nuture your spiritual self, and cultivate your social self. Above all, be true to yourself and enjoy the journey.

Donna Fox

Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, Director, Advanced Biomedical Sciences Programs, College of Science Always maintain an “attitude of gratitude!” Appreciating others for their acts of kindness is just as important as acting with kindness.

Paul Gorski

New Century College My advice for freshmen - take at least one course every semester that you really oughtn’t take.

Freshman Focus • 41 “Obama came to Mason – my boyfriend and I got up at 4 a.m to see him!” Alex Woodson

Oniye Okolo

President, African Student Association Mason is an awesome place with great opportunities that await you, from awesome study abroad programs to the free gym classes. With the right direction, Mason could become your home away from home.

Patrick Gooley

Model United Nations President Opportunity will always be there, it’s up to you to take it. As Robert Frost said, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I - I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.”

Jon Steier

President Lambda Alpha Epsilon (American Criminal Justice Association) College is about networking and taking advantage of opportunity. As a student at Mason, you have opportunities with D.C. and NOVA at your disposal. Do not be afraid to challenge yourself. Go out there and be proactive by seeking internships and networking with professionals in your field of study!

Mark Mansdoerfer

President, Mason Ambassadors Get involved with something as soon as you can at Mason. The experiences and friendships that will be created will teach you much more than a classroom could.

Aaron Arenas

Peer Advisor, Transition Resource Center Get involved and don’t be afraid to take (smart and safe) risks! College is a learning experience. Leave it with no regrets.

Jazmine Butts

Peer Advisor, Transition Resource Center Utilize your resources. Seize new opportunities. Embrace others. Find out who you are and who you want to be.

Sergio Jimenez

President, American Marketing Association All journeys begin with one step. If something is important, you don’t have time for it, you make time for it. Get out, make a difference and leave a legacy.

Jake McLernon

General Manager, Mason Cable Network Get involved... enough said! It is the best decision you will ever make.

Freshman Focus • 42



Words oF WisdoM

Leslie Steiger

Student Media Comm Team Manager From my experience as a Mason undergrad, I believe one of the most important pieces of advice I can offer is to get involved on campus in some capacity. Whether it be in an organization, fraternity, sorority, club, office, etc., being involved in multiple facets has given me an opportunity to gain valuable skills for my professional development as well as being around amazing people that I would have never met had I hidden out in the JC or my room. I definitely recommend opening up and finding your niche, wherever that may be, take a step outside of your comfort zone and be open to new opportunities and challenges during your college career (before it’s too late)! As cliche as it sounds its true, YOLO!

Shane Smith

Executive Editor, Mason Votes In order to be successful at Mason, do not be afraid to get involved. Once you are involved don’t be afraid to be a leader of your organization or club. Always seek out ways to better yourself personally and professionally whether that be through internships or mentorships. This is your university make it the place you want it to be.

Evelyn Seay

Editor-in- Chief, George Mason Review Don’t stretch yourself too thin! Explore different extracurricular opportunities. Then, pick a couple. That dedication will make a bigger impact. Photo: Alexis Glenn/Creative Services

Storm Paglia

General Manager, WGMU The key to being successful at Mason is getting as involved as possible! The more you do, the better your experience here will turn out to be. Don’t wait to get involved either; within your first few weeks of your first semester you will most likely find your primary activity for your four years here, so make it count!

Reuben Jones

Executive Editor, Connect2Mason Get involved in something that you’re passionate about. This may take a while to find, but once you have discovered your passion, the outcome will outweigh the search. Don’t try and join every organization, but rather find one or two areas of interest that you can concentrate your time and best effort towards. You want to leave college with not only a great education and lasting friendships; but also an accomplishment that you’re proud of and you can say, ‘I did that!’

Colleen Wilson

Editor-in-Chief, Broadside Being successful at Mason is all about creating your own experience. I wasn’t sure that the university was the right fit for me until I took some initiative to reach out and become involved in the campus community. The classroom is important, but your experiences with clubs, organizations, jobs and friends will absolutely be the most enriching part of the next four years.

Freshman Focus • 43

“Adjusting to college life... and making friends in all of my classes.” Savannah Norton

univ 100 Photo: Walter Martinez

by Reuben Jones There are many reasons cited by incoming freshmen for coming to George Mason University: location, academics, the feel of the campus, its label as an up-and-coming school and the diversity of the student body. But when freshmen are dropped off by their parents in August and given a chance to explore the university, figuring out how to take advantage of the resources and services offered can be difficult. University 100, or UNIV 100, is a class solely for freshmen that is designed to help freshmen transition smoothly into life at Mason. The class is taught by a faculty member and a peer advisor, a current upperclassman student, and is typically made up of around 20 to 25 students. Even though some students sign up for the class because of the push from their parents, it is not a boring or useless class like some freshmen first think. I attended the class my freshman year, and I have been co-teaching the class as a peer advisor for the past two years. While freshmen will sometimes be asked to step out of their comfort zones through icebreakers and different activities, the benefits of the class far outweigh any possible awkwardness that occurs the first or second class. In fact, by the middle of the semester, the students get to know each other very well, a situation that doesn’t always exist in other class settings. The UNIV 100 class does not force you to join any organization or require you to use a time management skill that we recommend. What this class does is provide freshmen the opportunities that are available at Mason, give individual assistance and guidance to students, and simply help freshmen transition smoothly into college.

UNIV 100 Benefits Meet new people: There are over 20,000 undergraduate students and around 2,500 freshmen at Mason in a given year. You can not meet everyone but you can find a great group of friends. UNIV 100 allows students to work together and learn from each other, allowing friendships to form in and out of class. Learn about great campus resources: Did you know students can go to performances at the Center for the Arts for free? Did you know Mason has a campus in Front Royal, Virginia, the Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation, that allows students to live near endangered animals and take part in training in conservation biology? Did you know the university offers free guidance in writing papers and tutoring in math? These are just some of the resources that freshmen learn about in UNIV 100. Students came away from the class with a much better grasp of what resources are offered to them as students at this university. Learn how to get involved: The great part about college is that you get a new start. If you want to get involved, peer advisors will provide you with numerous opportunities to help pursue your interest. If you do not want to be involved at the university outside of your classes that is also fine. Either way, this course will help you focus on your academics by providing study skills, time management techniques and ways to de-stress from a sometimes-hectic college life.

Freshman Focus • 44


“When my old friend from Germany came and visited.” Nora Johnson

#DearGMU2017 Tara McCortney @tmccortney #DearGMU2017 focus on school, success presents opportunities to get to work with professors on research. Jävięń ÂRTPØP @iBadRainbowKidd #DearGMU2017 do not try to fill up your schedule with the maximum amount of credits just because you feel you can Alexa Gohl @alexagohl #DearGMU2017 You have to attend at least ONE basketball game to even begin to fathom the term “Mason Nation.” Dae @TheLife_OfDae #DearGMU2017 #GMU17 Just because you love your roommate over fb doesn’t mean you will love them when you live with them. Okan k. @Oh_K_ #DearGMU2017 Don’t expect your professors to tell you everything, you got to find out on your own! Jenni Maizel @JayZelll #DearGMU2017 be prepared to see some really strange things lol IvΔn Avramɵvić @lavramovic #DearGMU2017 don’t be stupid. Make smart choices in college, even though it’s supposed to be the time of you life. Tara Jalali @TJalali #DearGMU2017 beware of the constant wind tunnel between fenwick and the dorms beside Starbucks Tara Jalali @TJalali #DearGMU2017 use ratemyprofessor wisely

Freshman Focus • 45

“Being able to walk onto the campus knowing everyone has been so friendly.” Jayla Washington


Photo: Jake McLernon


Freshman picks from the 'Best of Mason' survey

Photo: Walter Martinez

by Rachael Rutsky Best Freshman Class

Photo: Transition Resource Center

University 100: This class is a must-take! You earn one credit for meeting great friends, learning about awesome resources and getting to know all about Mason. Psychology 100: A must-take for freshman! An extremely interesting class which gives you an intro to many aspects of psychology and allows you to work one-on-one with researchers. IT 103: A great class to take to gain some basic knowledge on computers and how they work. Also the lab allows you to work with awesome programs!

Photo: Bill Holmes

Best Place to Study

Johnson Center: Get cozy in a comfy chair in the JC library. Soundproof panels keep noise out so you can keep your focus in! Fenwick: Quiet all the time and open 24hrs/day for midterms and finals means Fenwick is an awesome place to study. Dorm room: If you like to snack or listen to music while you study, then your dorm room it is! Just hang out in sweatpants and a tee and crack open those books. Photo: Jake McLernon

Favorite Place to Exercise

Photo: Walter Martinez

Aquatic and Fitness Center: Trying to get in a good workout? Hit up the Aquatic and Fitness Center. With all the workout equipment you need, pools and saunas, it’s easy to stay fit. Skyline: Shoot some hoops on the fullsize basketball court or take advantage of the weight room. Skyline has all the essentials for a great workout. RAC: The biggest gym on campus is good for more than just a workout. Play basketball, volleyball or squash right in the gym. Head outside for tennis, soccer or football.

Freshman Focus • Amy 46 Rose Photo:


Photo: Jake McLernon

Best Place to Eat on a First Year’s Budget

Best Spot on Mason Shuttle and CUE Bus

Metro: Hop on the FREE Mason to Metro Shuttle to get you to the Nation’s Capital. Spend the day in Georgetown or browsing the monuments. Fair Oaks Mall: Only two stops away from campus, this is definitely the most convenient stop offered. Downtown Fairfax: Mason students get to ride the local CUE bus for free. Head down to old-time Fairfax for food, shopping and local stores.

Photo: Jake McLernon

Photo: Jake McLernon

Favorite Place in D.C.

National Mall: If you’re going to the capital, stop by the National Mall. A great view of the Capitol, Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument makes for a good day. Georgetown: A great place for highend shops, good food and beautiful scenery. Smithsonian: This museum, located right in D.C., offers tons of exhibits with free admission (a college student’s dream).

Favorite Dessert

Photo: Georgetown Cupcakes

Best Place to See Live Music

9:30 Club: Grab some friends and head to the 9:30 Club. Live performers vary from local bands to famous singers. The dance floor and lounge are always open! Patriot Center: This concert venue, located right on Mason’s campus, is ideal for the hottest performers. Discount tickets for students! Jammin’ Java: A favorite venue of many located in Vienna, right outside Fairfax. The short drive is well worth the awesome shows!

Photo: Jake McLernon Photo: Walter Martinez

Favorite Spot to Bring a Date

Mason Rathskeller: Bring your sweetheart to the Mason Rathskeller, our on-campus sports bar. Whether catching a game or splitting a sundae, it’s the place to be. Mason Pond: Feeling romantic? Take a stroll around the Mason Pond. Stop at the bridge or gazebo or admire the sculptures of past Mason students. University Mall Theater: Always playing the latest movies, and stocked with the best snacks. A quick walk from campus is worth the perfect date.

Fat Tuesdays: A staple for a Mason freshman, this restaurant is conveniently located in University Mall. Stop in for Cajun or Creole food! Brion’s Grille: Also located in University Mall, Brion's offers students American classics, including half-priced burgers on Tuesdays! Pilot House: Late night dining is a must! Whether out on the town or up studying, grab a bite to eat on campus at Pilot House, open late until 4 a.m.!

Photo: Jake McLernon

Photo: Jake McLernon

Georgetown Cupcakes: The TV show tells all; they’re delicious! Only miles away and well worth the wait. With new flavors every day, you can’t go wrong. Southside: What’s better than all you can eat food? All you can eat dessert, of course! It’s always stocked with endless ice cream, cakes and cookies and more. Josie’s: Self-serve fro-yo is a great treat. Located in University Mall, and takes Mason Money! It’s a win-win.

Favorite Place to Shop

Tyson’s Corner: Although not always appropriate for a college budget, mall trips are always a good time. Tyson’s has great stores and an even better atmosphere! Fair Oaks Mall: Just a shuttle stop away, Fair Oaks Mall is a one-stop desination for the lastest styles, outfits and trends. GMU Bookstore: Spirit Fridays are a must here at Mason. Get stocked up on tons of gear at the bookstore, located in the JC.

Favorite Place to Relax

Johnson Center: Grab a snack and a comfy chair. Johnson Center is a place for students to meet, eat and have a great time! Dorm: Take a nap, play some music, or just lounge around in the comfort of your dorm. Nothing beats that! Starbucks: Open 24-hours and located right on campus! Filled with comfy chairs, sofas, coffee and even a fireplace!

Freshman Focus • 47 Photo: Jake McLernon

Freshman Focus Freshman Focus • 48

University Life

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