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Be Engaged – Get your Popcorn and Mulled Cider Heeere! 

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  • The CEHD Student Success Team is all about…well, you guessed it – student success. Each team member supports that success a little differently. Some provide study tips or help you navigate conflict with peers. Others knock down barriers on your behalf, making sure that nothing gets in the way of you completing your coursework. And I, proudly, pop popcorn and mull cider at least once a semester. It’s called balance. 

    If you’ve been in CEHD long enough, you know I’m not joking about the popcorn and cider. The Student Success Team adores sending students to class with a smile and a salty snack. Believe it or not, we don’t do that just to satisfy hunger. The purpose behind the popcorn is actually much deeper – it’s about enrichment

    Dr. Ivory Berry and Brianna Alford making popcorn
    We love popcorn – almost as much as we love students!

    What is enrichment?

    Enrichment extends a student’s education beyond the classroom. It encompasses a variety of engagement opportunities that focus on developing the whole student. Examples include: participating in activities and organizations; reflecting on health and wellbeing; engaging in writing and research; sharing knowledge in new communities and cultures; establishing leadership skills and abilities; proactively preparing for the future; developing relationships with peers and mentors; and much, much more. If you’re involved at Mason in a way that helps you grow personally, academically, and professionally – and it’s not just during class – you’re most likely engaging in enrichment. 

    Why does it matter? 

    Enrichment is the free throw after a two-pointer. It’s the “and some” that seems optional and maybe even inconsequential but could ultimately cost you or save you the game. Enrichment helps students gain self- and cultural awareness; build a support network; increase and apply knowledge, skills, and abilities; and develop a sense of belonging in the college and community. Students who are plugged in and connected know when and with whom to celebrate, as well as when and where to reach out for support. This ultimately aids in persistence to graduation. 

    How to enrich your experience: 

    • We (the CEHD Student Success Team) host activities and events. Attend them.  

    Remember the popcorn I mentioned earlier? It’ll be available during our Suite 2200 Open House on Monday, August 30. We guarantee it’ll be delicious, but more importantly, it will encourage people to linger near the suite, which gives students like you a chance to connect with faculty, staff, and fellow students. Social enrichment at its best. Learn more here.

    • We oversee CEHD Clubs and Organizations. Join one.  

    There are over 400 student organizations at Mason, and our office oversees close to 10 in CEHD alone. Chances are at least one of those organizations will align with your academic or personal interests. Join one and build up your support network. Check out the CEHD student organizations here. Discover other student organizations at Mason’s Get Connected fair happening in-person on 9/1 and virtually on 9/2. Learn more here

    • We provide opportunities to strengthen and develop your skills. Participate in them. 

    Throughout the year our office offers numerous opportunities to further your skills in reading, writing, research, time management, etc. These opportunities come in the form of events (Writer’s Retreats and research symposiums), guides (like this Time Management Toolkit), and campus partnerships (like encouraging students to attend Learning Service’s upcoming workshop on How to Focus Better). Take advantage of them now – it pays to be proactive! 

    Enrichment opportunities extend well beyond the suggestions listed above, but for the sake of your time, we’ll pause there for now. Enjoy the fall ‘21 semester, CEHD students, and don’t forget to Be Engaged!  

    Brianna Alfors, CEHD Student Enrichment Coordinator

    Brianna Alford is the Student Enrichment Coordinator for the College of Education and Human Development. When she’s not devising opportunities for CEHD students to Be Engaged, she enjoys cooking, crafting, and advocating for a proper RSVP.

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    The Story Behind Our Formula

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  • Be informed. Be Engaged. Be Present.

    The Student Success Formula

    Five years ago, I interviewed for the inaugural CEHD Director of Student Success position. As part of my interview process, I was asked to prepare a job talk on current trends in student affairs and a sample welcome message that I would deliver at a new, undergraduate transfer student orientation. I knew that preparing the job talk would take some time since I needed to research current trends and think about a succinct way to deliver the presentation; but, on the other hand, I knew that crafting the welcome message was going to be a cakewalk! 

    Two years prior, I was fresh out of doctoral studies at Illinois and had relocated to Ohio to assume a full-time student success position working with exploratory/undeclared students, new transfer students, and students who were not in good academic standing. Retention and graduation rates were pretty abysmal to be frank, and I was given the tall order to develop approaches and initiatives to improve those rates. Rather than assume that the students were not academically prepared for college or were unmotivated to earn a degree, as too often folks do in their instant analysis, I sought to understand their lived experiences and how they connected (or didn’t connect) to the university, including its structures, policies, resources, services, personnel, and academic programs. I quickly learned that students were not in sync with the university and vice versa. 

    I was lucky to have had my undergraduate experience at a nurturing Historically Black College and University (HBCU) in Louisiana. Though we had limited resources, we had highly supportive and engaged faculty, staff, upperclassmen, and alumni who showed us the way; they synced us to the university. I’ll never forget running into my mathematics department chair, Dr. Meyinsse, on “the strip” in between classes after returning from summer break following completion of my freshman year. He asked, “Berry, what did you do this summer?” I replied with glee, “I went home and got plenty of rest, hung out with my friends, and caught up on my favorite tv shows!” “And what else?” he asked. “That was it! It was great!” I responded. He leaned in towards me with direct eye contact, like only a parent could, and said, “make that your last summer at home just resting and hanging out. Berry, you need to be in a summer program and involved in activities preparing for life after undergrad.” Admittedly, I was a bit confused because as a first-generation college student, I thought taking the right classes was all that I needed to focus on to earn my degree and obtain a job offer or a graduate admissions letter.  

    That’s me as an undergrad at Southern University and A&M College

    He gathered my whole life in an instance! He was the lifeline that I didn’t know I needed. I spent a lot of time with Dr. Meyinsse, and others at the university, who instilled in me the expectation to “stay in the know” and encouraged me to become a Ronald E. McNair Scholar; attend and present at research conferences; go to sporting and social events at the school; serve in leadership roles in various clubs and organizations; get involved in student government; join the honors program; and form study and peer support groups. I even became a student ambassador and led campus tours for prospective students and their families and spoke at admissions events. I probably over did it, but I was fully plugged in to the university, highly engaged, and simply having the time of my life. Oh, and I got admitted to and enrolled in the doctoral program at Illinois immediately following completion of undergraduate studies! 

    Unfortunately, I wasn’t witnessing this motivation, engagement, or sentiment in my students in Ohio. However, I quickly realized that what they needed was a Dr. Meyinsse, so I became him for them.  

    I knew that if I could encourage them to plug in to the university by staying abreast of policies and deadlines; checking and responding to their emails in a timely fashion; and reviewing their degree audits and course syllabi regularly that they would be in a better position for success. So many of them were missing assignments, advising appointments, and opportunities to appeal decisions because they were disconnected. They had no clue what was going on at the university!  

    I knew that if I could get them to see beyond the degree audit and realize what it would take to be a competitive applicant with a diversified portfolio of experiences to land a job in their field or admission to an advanced degree program that they would then see the value in being engaged inside and outside of the classroom.  

    I knew that if I could get them to think about their areas of academic, professional, and personal strength and challenge and identify associated resources to aid in their development then they would want to explore all that the university has to offer to support their matriculation and wellbeing. 

    So, whenever my students would ask, “Dr. B., what I need to do to successfully make it through?” I always channeled my inner Dr. Meyinsse, “Be informed; Be engaged; and Be present—both inside and outside of the classroom; that’s the formula for optimal student success.” Dr. Meyinsse didn’t use those exact words, but it captures the spirit of his words and what I took away from our conversations and ultimately simplified to make shareable and actionable.  

    Fortunately, I didn’t just leave that message with my students in Ohio. I brought it with me in my new transfer student orientation welcome message for my interview at Mason and have shared it countless times with students, faculty, and staff ever since.  

    You’ve seen the student success formula on our swag. You’ve heard it in our presentations. We’ve even plastered it on the main wall in the CEHD Student Success Center. We’ve fully embraced it, and I urge you to do the same…because Dr. Meyinsse said so. 

    Dr. Ivory Berry, also known as “Dr. Get-Your-Life-Together,” is the Assistant Dean for Student Success for the College of Education and Human Development. He shares his no-nonsense wisdom every day in the Office of Student and Academic Affairs, and occasionally, here on the Student Success Blog.

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    Allow Us to Reintroduce Ourselves

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  • The Student Success Team: (L-R) Stephen Vaughan, Chris Creswell, Dr. Ivory Berry, Brianna Alford, and Jocelyn Callister; not pictured: Dr. Ellen Rodgers and Meg Yoder
    The Student Success Team: (L-R) Stephen Vaughan, Chris Creswell, Dr. Ivory Berry, Brianna Alford, and Jocelyn Callister; not pictured: Dr. Ellen Rodgers and Meg Yoder

    Borrowing from the lyrics of iconic American rapper and entrepreneur (and Beyonce’s husband), Jay Z’s hit song “Public Service Announcement,”  ALLOW US TO REINTRODUCE OURSELVES: We are the CEHD Student Success Team, and we are located in the newly designed CEHD Student Success Center in suite 2200 Thompson Hall on the Fairfax campus. 

    For those of you who have been around the college for a while, “Student Success Team” and “Student Success Center” may sound like fairly new concepts. However, if you’re familiar with Student and Academic Affairs, aka SAA, then there’s no breaking news here!  

    Our mission is still the same

    We support the teaching, scholarship, and service missions of the College by onboarding new students, facilitating enrollment and retention, addressing barriers to success, adjudicating appeals and grievances, awarding scholarships, coordinating enrichment activities and celebratory events, such as the student research symposium and graduation, and providing a broad range of informational, advising, professional development, financial, and support resources.   

    We’ve just retooled, rebranded, and relocated.   

    In summer 2019, the Student Success Team accepted the offer from the dean to move down the hall to the suite most recently vacated by our Admissions colleagues in order to make way for the college to stand up the new TEACHERtrack@Mason office in suite 2300 Thompson, our previous home. Though it was bittersweet to depart our old digs and suitemates, we eventually leaned into the possibilities of what could be in our new, collaborative space. But first, the new space needed some major work to fit our needs and personalities! For starters, we needed an additional office space to fit the full team, and we needed more of an open floor concept given the collaborative nature of our team; thus, out with the cubicles and in with a new front desk workstation and a large conference table and a wall-of-whiteboards to give our ideas room to grow. We also needed color and freshness so the space would be inviting to the students who are at the heart of all we do. 

    Don’t get it twisted, the “new stuff” didn’t arrive the next day, or for that matter, the next year! We got played a few times and really learned what it means to have pandemic patience!  

    It took TWO YEARS to finally get the space right and we are ready to share it with our CEHD community, including students, faculty, and staff!  

    Join us on Monday, August 30 from 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm or Tuesday, August 31 from 9:00 am – 11:00 am for our official CEHD Student Success Center “Open House”. Stop by to grab a treat and some swag; check out the space; and share a few hellos and air hugs.  

    We are still in a pandemic, so all COVID 19 protocols will be in effect in accordance with state, local, and Mason policies.   

    Learn more about the CEHD Student Success Center at https://cehd.gmu.edu/saa/student-success-center/ 

    Dr. Ivory Berry, also known as “Dr. Get-Your-Life-Together,” is the Assistant Dean for Student Success for the College of Education and Human Development. He shares his no-nonsense wisdom every day in the Office of Student and Academic Affairs, and occasionally, here on the Student Success Blog.

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    Tips for Starting Your (Successful) Semester

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  • Hello! 

    The air is still warm and days are still long, but classes begin on Monday, believe it or not! If you are anything like me, you have already begun to prep for the next term by ordering books, thinking about parking, and have begun freaking out about assignments not yet posted. However, if you are not like me, then you may be enjoying your summer worry free! Whether you fall into either category, I have a few tips that can help you get ready for your return to campus whether that be physically or virtually: 

    1. You can never have too many face masks! For those who are going to be on campus: bring a mask. Have one in your car and an extra in your bag – oh, and don’t forget to have one on your face, covering your nose and mouth! There is a campus-wide, indoor mask mandate from President Washington that must be followed regardless of vaccination status. We wouldn’t want you to be turned away from a class or an appointment because you forgot a mask! 
    2. Plan to plan! Start putting your planner together now. Whether you prefer a printed or digital calendar, go ahead and jot down your assignments from your course syllabi and important dates and deadlines. These things sneak up on you fast! 
    3. Make studying a habit! Treat it like a job with a regular schedule. Don’t risk termination because you were a “No call, No show” to your own study session! 
    4. Grad students, touch base with your advisor and committee members! They’ve missed you and can’t wait to hear about your plans for productivity this semester. They can help you stay on schedule for completing courses, portfolios, dissertations, and theses. Plus, they are a valuable source for information on your industry so it can only help to have a good relationship with them! 
    5. Don’t forget to eat! Plan your meals and snack breaks in advance. “Hangry” isn’t cute or cool and buying out gets expensive. Get groceries and prepare meals ahead of time so you and your wallet can stay full. 
    6. Pencil in some personal time. You have to be well to do well! Schedule some downtime now so that you have something to look forward to when you’re feeling overwhelmed. It’ll help you stay on track during the tough times and experience less guilt when you finally do allow yourself to take a break.

    These are just a few tips that can help make your transition a little smoother and lower the stress of coming to campus!

    Stephen Vaughan

    Stephen Vaughan is the Student Academic Success Coordinator for the College of Education and Human Development. Apart from working on CEHD student success, Stephen is a PhD student in the college and finds time to rock climb at a local gym.

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    Flint Hill School Hiring After Care Counselors

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  • Flint Hill School is excited to relaunch their after school program this year and they will be hiring counselors. Two Flint campuses offer after care, one housing JK – 6th and one with 7-8th.

    Counselors are responsible for keeping attendance, actively supervising and engaging with students, support with planning daily activities, and communicating with teachers and parents about behavioral observations and successes. It’s generally a great opportunity for college students who need experience in a childcare/education setting and allows flexibility for classes and keeps their evenings and weekends free.


    The shift is generally M-F, from roughly 2 – 6 (depending on the campus) with exceptions for school holidays and breaks.


    Click the image to see the PDF flyer below or contact Matt McCoart, Director of After School and Summer Programs, at mmccoart@flinthill.org for more information.

    Flint Hill School flyer