Meet a CHSS Advisor
Mary Getsey Bernier, Economics
Prior to joining George Mason University's Department of Economics as an Undergraduate Coordinator, my professional work spanned international economic development program management, private sector and non-profit organizations, youth environmental and conservation initiatives, national campus safety campaigns, and equestrian sports photojournalism. I am thankful to have life experience, travel, and work experience in Asia, Europe, Africa, and Latin America.
My upbringing in a military family meant most of my elementary and high school years were spent abroad, living in Taiwan, Senegal, England, and traveling throughout Asia, Sub-Saharan West Africa, and Europe. My earliest school memories were in multicultural and international schools.
During my high school years living in Dakar, Senegal, I learned (immersion method!) to speak French, and it was at this formative time I developed my interest in international economic development and international relations. The following year I lived and studied in England. As a young American student in the UK during the Reagan/Thatcher/Andropov years of the Cold War, it was an eye-opening experience that no doubt influenced my education and career aspirations.
I earned a BA French (additional areas of study in US economic and foreign policy) at Randolph-Macon Woman's College, in Lynchburg, Virginia. During that time, I also spent my junior year of college in an advanced French language program in Paris, taking classes at the Alliance Française, the Institut Catholique de Paris, and the Sorbonne, alongside French university students.
I completed my MAIS degree at George Mason University in International Transactions, a professional degree in international affairs focusing on international trade. As an interdisciplinary degree, it was a groundbreaking Mason graduate program, considering how the world was changing in so many ways in 1992.
This program made me realize the extraordinary opportunities Mason had to offer, back then, and to this day. I still tap into the groundwork of my Mason graduate program to help my undergraduate economics students understand how events of the past very much impact our world today, and to explore economics electives and other interdisciplinary programs (minors, concentrations, international education opportunities and study abroad internships) to enhance their degree plan.
I feel like a Mason “time traveler.” I started my graduate studies at Mason in 1992, and my first job at Mason was in 1994, with the team that started the Center for Global Education (housed in a trailer at the time, in a large parking lot where Merten Hall now sits…). I left Mason in 1997 after finishing my graduate program and returned to Mason study abroad in 2014. It was amazing to see how much Mason had grown and expanded in just under 20 years. Following that position, I worked as an undergraduate academic advisor in Criminology, and in Government and International Politics. I joined the Economics Undergraduate Advising Team in 2019, where I continue to support and guide our students, and work with my colleagues in the Mason Advising community, with ECON staff and faculty, as well as with CHSS staff.
As a Mason alumna, a Mason staff member, but also the proud Mom of two Mason students (son graduated in 2022, and daughter is currently a student), Mason has been, and remains, a hub in my life. When not working at Mason, I spend time with my children or playing with our one-year-old puppy (Leonard). I relax with gardening and landscaping, hone my gastronomy skills, enjoy medieval art and history, occasionally play my violin, and ride and train horses–a sport I started as a child which allowed me to horseback ride all over the globe!