For the past two years, I have had the privilege of being a member of the George Mason University Parent and Family Council, with the honor of serving as Chair this past year. The Council consists of volunteer family members of current Mason students who serve as ambassadors for the University and current and prospective families. We are the ones in the bright purple “Ask Me” shirts you have seen during summer Orientation sessions and Family Weekend. We meet once a semester to learn all we can about Mason – from how the University operates to what different departments on campus can offer students to how we as family members can offer a personal perspective to incoming and current families. Serving on the Council has been a joy and a pleasure, and I am grateful to the University for providing this opportunity to give back to the community in which my son, Greg, has called home for the past four years.
As I reflect on both Greg’s and our family’s experience at George Mason University, it is incredible to me that the four years he spent here has gone by with such lightning speed. As a mom to an incoming freshman in Spring 2014, I spent countless hours perusing the Mason website trying to wrap my head around what would become my son’s new world. For me, it was with such mixed emotions that I navigated my way through housing videos, meal plans, major and minor choices, internship and study abroad opportunities, extracurricular activities, resources and clubs to the new neighborhood of Fairfax and northern Virginia (we live in South Carolina). I was so happy that my son was going to be able to be a part of this “Mason Nation” and be afforded the opportunities and experiences to grow into the young man I knew he would be, yet heartbroken that my role was about to significantly change.
College is more than the academics and the degree you leave with; it is the person your student becomes while obtaining them. The experiences your student has from the new people they meet with different backgrounds to learning to live independently to coping with new types of demands and stress. The journey is just that… a journey. The path from freshman to senior is different for everyone, but George Mason University provides so much opportunity that students from all backgrounds and starting points can graduate with such a strong foundation that their futures are so very bright.
Fewer things give me as much happiness than a forum to share my experience as a parent to a Mason student. I have been proud to be a voice to other parents and family members searching for honest, real life answers to questions they might not be able to find on the University website. “Does the food actually taste good?” “What is the fraternity scene really about?” “Is study abroad a good investment?” Or more important questions like “Will my child make friends?” and “Were you sad when you drove away on Freshman Move-in Day?” Parent-to-parent communication is a vital part of the process and can help ease the feelings of uncertainty and fear.
Council members are able to contribute their personal experiences, as well as information they have learned by being on the Council, to inform and enlighten other Mason family members. As I sit in EagleBank Arena this week and watch Greg receive his diploma, I am sure his dad, brother and I will be filled with a spectrum of emotions. Mason has provided our family not only with a college degree for our son, but a place that has enabled us to continue to be a part of his life. A Patriot for life….
Parent and Family Council