Mason Family Flash

Teach, research & present at Family Weekend: Learn about this year’s Faculty Spotlights

Our Mason faculty are doing some impressive work and we want to show it off to you! We are spotlighting three Mason faculty members during this year’s Family Weekend. Read about each of the professors and their research below and register for their virtual events at

#LivingWhileBlack: Social Justice in the Age of Social Media
Friday, Oct. 23; 7 p.m. ET
Listen as Dr. Shayna Maskell, Assistant Professor in the School of Integrative Studies, discusses the current racial injustices in America and social media’s role in advancing racial justice.

Dr. Maskell has her PhD in American Studies from the University of Maryland, where her dissertation examined DC hardcore punk 1979-1983 and the construction of gender, race, and class through sound. Her areas of research include popular and youth culture, music, social movements, and subcultures.

Dr. Maskell has taught for over a decade at such institutions as the University of Southern California, California Institute of the Arts, University of Maryland, and Corcoran College of Art and Design, before coming to Mason.

Her classes often focus on intersectionality and the ways in which concepts of self and society are constructed through a multitude of texts. Publications include “I Predict a Riot: Riot Grrrls and the Contradictions of Feminism,” “Performing Punk: Bad Brains and the Construction of Identity,” “The Zombie as Foodie: Liv, iZombie, and the Politics of Consumption,” and “Take Me Out to the Ballgame: Washington Nationals, Walk-Up Music, and National Identity.”

Register for Dr. Maskell’s faculty spotlight.


Inside the Real Criminal Minds
Saturday, Oct. 31; 7 p.m. ET
Ever wonder what goes on inside the real criminal minds? Listen to Dr. Mary Ellen O’Toole, Director of the Forensic Science Program in the College of Science, share her experience as one of the FBI’s most senior and accomplished profilers.

Dr. O’Toole is an internationally recognized Forensic Behavioral Consultant who regularly works with corporations, government agencies, law enforcement, educational institutions, mental health and the media. She specializes in the recognition and assessment of concerning, troubling and dangerous behavior that, if unaddressed, can have a wide range of serious consequences from loss of business and revenue to loss of lives.

Prior to her work at Mason, Dr. O’Toole served as an FBI agent for nearly 28 years. For more than half of that time, she worked in the Bureau’s prestigious Behavioral Analysis Unit, the unit featured in the hit TV series, Criminal Minds.

She has published many books and worked on multiple high-profile cases including the Elizabeth Smart abduction, the Unabomber case, the Green River Killer, and the Natalee Holloway investigation.

Register for Dr. O’Toole’s faculty spotlight.


Exploring Emerging Infectious Disease and COVID-19
Thursday, Nov. 12; 5:30 p.m. ET
How do infectious diseases emerge and evolve? Join Dr. Amira Roess, professor of Global Health and Epidemiology in the College of Health and Human Services, as she discusses the history of emerging infectious diseases, how she studies them, and the challenges to this field of study.

Dr. Roess is an epidemiologist with expertise in infectious diseases epidemiology, multi-disciplinary and multi-species field research, and evaluating interventions to reduce the transmission and impact of infectious diseases. Dr. Roess currently oversees several longitudinal studies to understand emergence and transmission of zoonotic infectious diseases globally, including the emergence and transmission of Campylobacter (with support from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation), MERS-CoV (with support from the US National Science Foundation), and the development of the microbiome during the first year of life.

She is also leading and is part of a number of COVID-19 projects. She studies breastfeeding patterns and their association with future health disparities and has also studied the impact of hurricanes on morbidity and mortality in the United States, links between food animal production and emerging infectious and zoonotic disease emergence globally, and mHealth (especially apps) technology integration and evaluations to reduce the impact of infectious diseases outbreaks, promote health care and health reduce disparities.

Dr. Roess holds a PhD in global disease epidemiology and control from Johns Hopkins University. Prior to joining academia, Dr. Roess served as the Science Director for the Pew Commission on Industrial Food Animal Production at Johns Hopkins and was an Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) officer at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). She has served as consultant for the U.S. Agency for International Development, the World Bank, and Westat Inc.

Register for Dr. Roess’ faculty spotlight.

For more information about Mason’s Family Weekend, visit If you have questions, contact us via email at, phone at (703) 993-2475, or our live chat at

Rebecca McCrory
Associate Director of Family Programs
New Student and Family Programs

*To receive more articles like this straight to your inbox, sign up for the Mason Family Association at

Mason Family Flash

Have you engaged with us?

As the university community remains in many virtual spaces, New Student and Family Programs continues to provide families with direct access to offices and information through our virtual family initiatives. Have you engaged with our programming and resources? 

Live Workshops
You are encouraged to turn on your camera, unmute yourself, and talk directly with representatives from various campus offices during our live workshops! Student Involvement, Learning Services, Counseling and Psychological Services are only a few of our upcoming live workshops. Check out the full schedule at and be sure to register! 

Peer Support
The Mason Parent and Family Council is made up of parents and family members of current Mason students – just like you! Register at and join their live sessions to ask questions and gain their perspective on the Mason experience. 

Academic Support
There are several academic resources to support your student’s success. Encourage them to meet with their Academic Advisor or Success Coach at least twice a semester to discuss course load, upcoming classes, and internship opportunities. If your student needadditional support, Learning Services has Peer Academic Coaches and Academic Success Workshops to assist with topics such as stress management, procrastination, and sleep schedules. Visit to learn more. 

The Well-Being Bulletin, created in partnership with the Center for the Advancement of Well-Beingis an 8-week initiative that includes tips to support your student’s well-being and online learning. Continue to check over the coming weeks because we are continuing to add content! 

If you have any questions about our virtual family initiatives, contact New Student and Family Programs at or (703) 993-2475. 

Samaria Moss
Graduate Assistant of Family Programs
New Student and Family Programs

Mason Family Flash

Opportunities for Virtual Family Support

Family engagement is a key part of student success, and we recognize the important role you play in your student’s development and success at Mason. We are committed to supporting and engaging you through our Virtual Family Initiatives outlined below.

Academic Support
Academic Advisors, Success Coaches, Learning Services and Transition Courses are available to your Mason student, and these staff members and offices want to help you support your student’s learning. More information and resources will continue to be added to throughout the fall semester.

Live workshops with key offices
Live workshops with key offices have been scheduled throughout the fall semester to help you support your Mason student. Content-area experts will provide tips, advice, and available resources, and you will have an opportunity to ask questions. Register now at

Peer-led support 
The Mason Parent and Family Council will lead peer-led support live sessions this semester that provides a space focused on family-to-family conversation and how to support each other and your students on this virtual collegiate journey. Register now at 

Resource Videos
Various university offices are recording videos to highlight a resource or service available to your student and providing more information about how you can help your student take advantage of all that Mason has to offer. New videos are in the editing stages and will be uploaded soon.

Well-Being Bulletin
Your student’s individual and collective well-being is vital, and during this at-risk time, it’s important that your student be proactive in taking care of their health. Throughout the fall semester, tips for how the Center for the Advancement of Well-Being can support your Mason student’s well-being will be included in our Mason Family Flash weekly e-newsletter and then posted to for your reference.

Additionally, if you participated in our Virtual Fall Family Kick-Off event on August 17, many of the presentation slides have been added to

If you have any questions regarding our virtual family initiatives, please contact New Student and Family Programs at or (703) 993-2475.

Rebecca McCrory
Associate Director of Family Programs
New Student and Family Programs

 *To receive more articles like this straight to your inbox, sign up for the Mason Family Association at

Mason Family Flash

Important conversations to have with your student

Communication is the key to better relationships. Your student is experiencing the college chapter of their life and it helps if your Mason family is on the same page. It is important to have a conversation that everyone is willing to participate in, and the intention should be to listen respectfully even if you do not agree on everything. View the lists of questions below and consider having these conversations with your Mason student:

Questions for All Students

  • What are your student’s expectations for this year?
  • What are their goals while attending Mason?
    • Study abroad? Internship? Join an organization? Meet lifelong friends?
  • What if they decide to switch majors and add another year to their time at Mason?
  • What if Mason is not a perfect fit and they consider leaving?
    • Would they finish the semester or the year?
  • Can you (parent/family member) be aware of their schedule?
  • Can you (parent/family member) have the phone numbers of their new friends?
  • What are the significant other/romantic partner expectations for your family?
  • Are you (parent/family member) forthcoming about your own college experiences and successes/mistakes you made?
  • Will your student complete a FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) form?
    • FERPA is a federal law that prevents Mason from releasing certain information from a student’s record without their consent.
  • If you (parent/family member) co-signed loans, does your student fully understand their responsibility?
    • Outstanding student loan debt from your student may jeopardize your retirement.
    • If your student dies before debt is paid off, will you be in a financial position to complete the loan payoff?

Questions for On-Campus Students

  • What are your communication expectations for each other?
    • Call once a week? Text daily?
  • Do you (parent/family member) have a tracker on your phone? What is the agreement while your student is at Mason?
  • What is the expectation for university breaks? Family time, catching up with friends, or a balance of both?
  • Your student may miss family events and vacations – how do they feel about that?
  • What happens if there is a death in the family/pets, how does your student want to be notified?
  • What are the alcohol expectations for your family?

Insurance Questions

  • Do you understand how your healthcare works with your student on campus?
    • Does your student understand the healthcare they are on and how to use it?
    • Network vs. Out of Network
    • Accidents/flu/general doctor visits while at Mason
  • Scheduling doctor’s appointments
    • Work their appointments around days when they may be home
      • Dentist – every 6 months / General Practitioner – once a year
  • Call your insurance agent for specifics on homeowner’s insurance and how it applies to your student’s belongings
    • Purchase a separate policy for your student’s laptop (for theft or if it breaks)

What’s in Your Wallet?

  • Photocopy (front and back) all important information your student stores in their wallet in case it gets lost or stolen.
  • Make two copies – one for you and the other for your student.
  • If your student took their passport to Mason, ask them to make a copy of it and store it in a safe location.

Legalities to Discuss if Your Student is 18 or Older

  • Do you have the necessary legal forms completed for them?
    • If you are unclear what forms to use, call your local estate attorney.
  • There are websites available for free legal advice.
  • Discuss organ donor and do-not-resuscitate (DNR) orders.
  • Have your student write down all social media accounts and passwords and store in a sealed envelope. It is not to be opened unless in an emergency.

Questions for Off-Campus Students

  • What does it mean for your family to have your student at home while attending Mason?
    • How will they manage their time between home and Mason?
    • Will they still have family responsibilities (i.e. making dinner, cleaning, taking care of siblings and pets, etc.) and partake in family events?
    • Are they expected to pay rent or support the family in other financial ways?
  • How will your student travel to campus?
    • Personal car, Metro, shuttle, bus, bike, carpool?
    • If driving a personal car, did they purchase a parking permit?
    • Have they mapped the commute during peak travel times?
  • Will they prepare and bring meals from home or purchase food on the go?
  • How does your student plan to become involved and connected to the campus community?
    • There are more than 400 events in Mason360 that include both in-person and virtual engagement! Encourage them to download the app to get connected.
  • What will they do if they begin to experience feelings of isolation or feelings that they are not getting the full Mason experience?
    • Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) staff are available, and students can call 703-993-2380 to schedule an appointment. There is also online support through Therapy Assistance Online.
  • When does your student plan to explore all parts of campus and not only where they may have face-to-face classes?
  • If your student wants to invite friends over to your house, are there any rules they should be aware of?

Although you may feel concern about how your relationship may change over time as your student manages their Mason schedule and responsibilities, we hope these conversation starters will ensure you and your student have a great experience during this exciting time.

Rebecca McCrory
Associate Director of Family Programs
New Student and Family Programs