Each year, faculty in the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) come together to select an outstanding student in their program to receive the honor of being named as their program award winner. Students selected for this award embody the very best of their program: they excel in their studies; they demonstrate leadership in classes and internships; and they have a genuine and tenacious passion for their discipline.
This year, faculty in Human Development and Family Science have selected Katherine Leon as their Outstanding Student in Human Development and Family Science. Congratulations, Katherine!
Q & A with Outstanding Student in Human Development and Family Science, Katherine Leon:
What academic accomplishment are most proud of?
I am most proud of my research assistant experience with Dr. Bethany Letiecq. During Summer 2019, I had the opportunity of working on Dr. Letiecq’s research team in the Culmore community. We were able to collect crucial information on the social determinants of health in a primarily undocumented community. This academic accomplishment exposed me to data collection, transcription and focus group facilitation—all important aspects of being a part of a research team. The experiences I gained from my research assistantship have prepared me for graduate school and future professional endeavors.
What organizations/affiliations have you been involved with while at Mason?
During my time at Mason, I served as the Vice President of Active Minds as well as an UndocuAlly trainer for Mason Dreamers. Additionally, I worked as both a Resident Advisor and Head Resident Advisor for Housing and Residence Life during my sophomore and junior years respectively.
What are your plans after graduation?
After I graduate, I will transition to a full-time position at the National Alliance on Mental Illness working as a Senior Coordinator for the Internal Strategy and Support department. Moreover, I intend to apply to graduate school within the next 1-2 years, I’ve decided to take a break from my studies while I explore potential career routes.
What is your favorite memory in CEHD or your favorite part of being a CEHD student?
My favorite memories in CEHD would be taking Dr. Bethany Letiecq’s HDFS 300 and HDFS 401 courses. Learning from Dr. Letiecq was a meaningful experience for me, her passion and expertise powerfully lead each lecture and I intend on taking the knowledge I gained from her classes into my future professional career.
What advice do you have for fellow CEHD students (especially to those that are not graduating yet)?
My best advice would be to refine your time management skills, get involved in organizations that interest you and practice self-compassion. Throughout my time at Mason, I consistently used a planner to keep track of my assignments and major projects—this tool helped me stay ahead of my academic responsibilities and enabled me to take on additional roles through Mason organizations. My involvement in organizations such as Mason Dreamers and Housing and Residence Life introduced me to the wonderful people I call my friends and enabled me to develop skills that I can carry into my academic and professional endeavors. Finally, the power in self-compassion will prove to be significant, especially when you inevitably make mistakes. Life will not always go as planned; you are bound to make mistakes and that completely is okay. During these tough times, it is important to extend much needed warmth and understanding to yourself in order to alleviate the negative feelings you may be experiencing. In turn, this practice will allow you to develop healthy coping mechanisms and practice compassion with your peers, friends and family.
Is there anything else you would like to share about yourself?
I am a first-generation student—graduating this semester is a major feat in my life. I am extremely thankful to my parents for making this accomplishment possible. I am also thankful to Dr. Susan Burns for believing in my ability to succeed in the HDFS program—your support has proved to be invaluable to my academic success.