September 2020 Newsletter

Welcome from the GAPSA President

Dear Fellow Students,

I write to you among one of the most turbulent epochs of modern human history. In just two semesters, our country and world have become in many regards unrecognizable. Not only have we made the switch to online and hybrid learning in a health pandemic, ANOTHER most tragic and inexcusable event of police brutality has ended in the murder of a black person, echoing the United States’ longstanding social epidemic of racism. Students, staff and faculty alike are struggling to find words to express the smear of emotions this sparked: outrage, heartache, confusion, fear, despair… Know that you are not facing these challenging times alone, though each of us are indeed experiencing this era in both shared and unique ways. Amidst these most convoluted issues, so many of us around the world are demanding the same things, a sentiment I tried to capture in the following poem...
As a student advocate and representative, it is crucial for me to be in conversation with my fellow students across our GMU campuses—Fairfax, Science and Technology (Sci Tech), and Arlington—to better understand the goals, needs and concerns of graduate and professional students whose individual life and career demands may vary greatly.  Every first and third Monday of the month, beginning October 5, from 3-4 pm I will be hosting an open space for students to share your voice and shape your Mason experience. I look forward to getting to know and serve you better!
Sign up for the first session on October 5:

Introducing GAPSA Executive Board Members for 2020 - 2021

Our 2020-2021 E-Board have answered a few questions about themselves, to help us get to know them!
President: Lilianna Devenau, MA Student in Sociology
1. What unique experience or perspective do you hope to bring to the E-Board?
Lili: The unique perspective I bring to the eboard is multifaceted. First, I have strong "left brain" and "right brain" abilities, which helps me to connect data and experiences in creative and impactful ways. I've also worked in multinational corporations, health care capacities, academia, nonprofits, and private sectors, so I understand the transferable skills employers are looking for regardless of one's specific career path. Finally, I have ample experience in serving as an advocate. I'm thankful to represent you!
2. What’s one of your major goals for GAPSA for this school year?
Lili: An area I'd love to focus on this year is the expansion of GAPSA. By increasing awareness and participation, we can better represent graduate and professional students and ensure the support needed for success.
VP of Fairfax: Tareque Mehdi, PhD Student in Education
1. What unique experience or perspective do you hope to bring to the E-Board?
Tareque: I am an international student and I believe that my intercultural experience will help our GAPSA team to listen and carry our graduate students’ stories, help them to break through seen and unforeseen barriers that stand in the way of their success at Mason and beyond.
2. What’s one of your major goals for GAPSA for this school year?
Tareque: One of my major goals for this school year would be to work with the GAPSA team closely and increase impact of our events and services. I would like to work together with Mason graduate students; also reach out to the unreached graduate students, create engaging and developmentally appropriate events, services for them so that we get more active participation. 
VP of SciTech: Marissa Howard, PhD Student in Bioscience
1. What unique experience or perspective do you hope to bring to the E-Board?
Marissa: With my scientific and infectious disease background, I hope to help the board better strategize and navigate the upcoming year as we endure the on-going COVID-19 pandemic and the future year to come.
2. What’s one of your major goals for GAPSA for this school year?
Marissa: A major goal I have for GAPSA this year would be to raise awareness of GAPSA to the Sci-Tech graduate population as well as be the best advocate for the unique degree programs of the Sci-Tech graduate population to the general graduate population
Director of Communications: Steven Zhou, PhD Student in Psychology
1. What unique experience or perspective do you hope to bring to the E-Board?
Steven: I've been a graduate student for many years, in all types of programs: part-time in-person Master's, full-time online Master's, and now full-time in-person/online PhD. I'm familiar with many of the unique challenges and opportunities each face. Moreover, I've had experiences in the admin side of higher education and hope to utilize that to bridge the gap between students and admin.
2. What’s one of your major goals for GAPSA for this school year?
Steven: As Director of Communications, I hope to consolidate communications and help identify the most efficient ways to get information to graduate students. We're all inundated with too many emails, so I hope to find more efficient and effective ways to get the word out about events, opportunities, and announcements.

Upcoming Events

Stearns Center's ITL Conference is happening online this week! This event features 60+ Synchronous and On Demand conference sessions in which Mason instructors share their best teaching strategies, including a keynote address by Dr. Bryan Alexander, author of Academia Next: The Future of Higher Education, who will invite us to reflect on how the landscape of higher education is changing and how technology can transform education, improving student experience and learning outcomes. 
You’ll find the conference filled with opportunities to network and have informal conversations with fellow instructors and other GTAs about what works to engage and support our students, especially in times like these.  Aside from finding community, you’ll walk away with an activity or strategy to use in your GTA role the next day or semester.
For more information and to register, click here. We hope to "see" you at the conference!
The Department of Sociology and Anthropology invites all graduate students to join us for this year's monthly colloquium series, featuring exciting speakers on the topic of "Conflict and Resistance"! The 2020-2021 schedule includes:
September 23: "Power and University Governance"
October 28: "Diversity and Inequality in Higher Education"
January 27: "Conquistador Transportation and the Urban Commons"
February 24: "A People's Guide to Making All Black Lives Matter"
April 28: "Memoirs and Visual Arts in Academia"
To find out more, visit!

Build your productivity, research, and writing skills at GRADReCon! A smorgasbord of workshops on topics essential to your success at Mason, GRADReCon is a partnership of Graduate Student Life, University Libraries and other key University programs and services for Grad Students. Join us on Thursday October 29 and Friday October 30, from 12pm to 4:30pm online, to learn, share, and meet old and new colleagues at GRADReCon 2020

Mason's Graduate Student Life office will present a number of events throughout the 2020-21 academic year, the majority online with a few in-person. Events include academic, career, and professional workshops, Write-In Days, and Grad Nights In, and much, much more! See below for a brief list of upcoming events (click here for details):
September 22 @ 3pm: Black Graduate Student Research Exchange (online workshop)
September 24 @ 12pm: Overcoming Procrastination (online webinar)
September 29 @ 2:30pm: Resume Writing (online workshop)
October 6 @ 3pm: Perils of Perfectionism (online webinar)
October 23 @ 1:30pm: Motivation and Goal-Setting (online webinar)
November 7 all day: Write-In (online and in-person workshop)

This fall, many Fairfax restaurants are committed to supporting the George Mason University community through fundraisers. Graduate student organizations are invited to schedule give back nights with local restaurants like Flippin' Pizza, Bellissimo Restaurant, and Koobala, who will donate 15 - 30% of sales back to fundraising groups. Staying safe is definitely top of mind, which is why restaurants are offering takeout, curbside, delivery or in-house events. 
Click here to view Fairfax restaurants who are open to hosting fundraisers for your organization!
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