Dean's Blog: Offering academic opportunities to get you there
Each year, Mason Science sponsors an event called ScienceConnect to bring our entire community of faculty, staff, and students together to explore opportunities and celebrate the start of the academic year. Our 2023 theme centers around a passport allowing attendees to travel from department to department, from one student org to another, highlighting critical resources they may reference or rely upon along the way. Attendees realize that as they travel on their academic journey at Mason, they have opportunities to get out and expand their world on the way to their ultimate professional aspirations.
There's a certain energy in the air, just like before one travels to a new destination, fueled by an expectation of adventure and unknown. Similar to the airport or bus station, participants wait in line, are bounced from one crowded hallway to another, and there's swag to earn (not purchase) by getting one's passport stamped by visiting the tabling groups.
What's most rewarding? To see the connections form, the possibilities unfold, and the professional pathways become clear. Each interaction I had with our science travelers reinforced why we do what we do.
Our faculty shared stories of exciting new and popular course options, research opportunities, and professional pathways. When one travels, at times early on it can feel like you are in a foreign land, not sure of how to best get to where you are going.
One student gushed on about the possibilities of which minor to explore...chemistry or math, as they confided that they didn't even know that might be possible as an engineering major. A first-year science student was weighing his options between a degree in physics or climate change as both were his passions. Yet another student, who started an organization called Girl Up at Mason, was able to share her vision among other student org leaders to create new collaborations and expand their collective networks. A post doc beamed when learning about the weekly meetups the college offers on Friday afternoons to keep the connections forming long after this event ends. And more than one soon to be graduating senior, after proudly sharing their frequent flier status, signed up for our LinkedIn account preparing to move on to their next destination.
There were more than a few first years who, when asked at the t-shirt table what they had seen on their ScienceConnect travels, seemed surprised they had such a fun time putting themselves out there to meet new people and learn new things that might fuel their academic and professional dreams. By the hundreds, they wanted their Mason Science t-shirt to show they were a part of something they cared about, demonstrating their feeling that they belonged here.
Our staff and faculty came together in a big way to make this massive yearly effort happen, spending hours in the hot sun signing people in, encouraging ever important engagement. I greatly appreciate the efforts to get our travelers off to their academic destinations and can't wait to share their success stories to inspire the next generation of Mason scientists.
I look forward to meeting more students, faculty, and staff at SciTech's ScienceConnect event tomorrow from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in Katherine G. Johnson Hall. Don't forget to register if you plan to attend.