2020 Seeds of Change Recap

Continuing a long-standing tradition in a new way, the Social Action and Integrative Learning (SAIL) office honored students, faculty, staff, and community partners as part of a week-long Seeds of Change online showcase.  The Seeds of Change Community Engagement Recognition event has honored the selfless leadership, service, and activism by members of the Mason community in partnership with organizations on and off-campus.  For the first time this year, Seeds of Change moved to an online celebration, allowing each nominee to be spotlighted on SAIL social media and culminating in a winners showcase video broadcasted live on Friday, April 24. 

Each of the SAIL Seeds of Change Awards honors different members of the Mason community, and this year 27 graduating seniors were honored with the Community Engagement Medallion which recognizes graduates  who have excelled in their commitment to the community through volunteerism, issue advocacy, community work-study, and political engagement.  Carrying on the tradition of honoring graduating seniors who have dedicated their time at Mason to working with the community was particularly meaningful for the SAIL staff. SAIL Director Patty Mathison believed that having an online ceremony for the Class of 2020 Medallion winners “shows how proud we are of these students' accomplishments. We recognize that graduation looks a little bit different this year and wanted to recognize and celebrate our graduates. We know that these Patriots will continue to find ways to make a positive impact in their communities after they leave Mason.”

2020 Seeds of Change Congratulatory Video

In addition to recognizing Mason graduates, the Seeds of Change awards also honor an undergraduate student who takes action in the community and who prioritize the community in their life and values. The Active Citizen Award for students who have made a significant contribution to the Mason community and  take action on issues that matter to them and their communities. With many excellent nominees, this year’s recipient Kalkidan Yesuf was recognized for her work addressing the lack of academic space for current African affairs allowing Mason students to have discussion with Mason faculty that specialize in the area through the Model African Union. In addition, she also served as the Vice President of the GMU UNICEF where she created fundraiser events around disaster relief, was student activist for the Enough Project, working to make Mason a conflict free campus and a Peer Mentor for the Office of Disability among many others. Congratulations Kalkidan! 

The Dr. Julie Owen Award, named for a current Mason faculty member who has been a fierce advocate, supporter and champion of community engagement, honors a graduate student who has made outstanding contributions by being engaged in their community.  This year’s recipient is Asra Ahmad. Asra’s commitment to making the world a better, healthier place by interning with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, as well as at the national advocacy organizations Every Child Fed and Global Fund for Children. Asra currently serves as a graduate assistant for the Student Support and Advocacy Center (SSAC) around health and wellness. And in addition, she is also a National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day Ambassador with Advocates for Youth, where she fearlessly presented on Capitol Hill for increased funding towards youth HIV. Congratulations Asra! 

Seeds of Change also honors faculty, staff, and community partners who have worked to connect Mason and the greater community together for a common purpose.  Nominees for the Engaged Faculty Award represented a variety of disciplines across campus, but all demonstrated the importance of modeling commitment to the community for their students. Dr. Graziella Pagliarulo McCarron was recognized as this years’ Engaged Faculty Award. Her nominator shared, “When thinking of the impact Dr. McCarron has in the GMU community a few words come to mind: kindness, empathy, dedication, caring, advocate, servant, leader, educator, scholar, etc. She integrates her advocacy for students and activism for a better world into all aspects of her teaching, mentoring, and scholarship, modelling the way for other students.”   A number of Mason staff were also recognized for their contributions to the community either through their roles on campus or through their personal commitment.  This year’s winner for Engage Staff Award, Lisa Snyder, Associate Director for the LEAD Office, represents both kinds of commitment. Her nominators wrote, “It’s hard to imagine anyone on the Mason campus who is a stronger leader or more engaged with the community than Lisa Snyder. Lisa leads the way in both cultivating a commitment to service at George Mason as well as strengthening our commitment to the communities we serve. Lisa’s passion for service and community engagement is unparalleled.”  

Honoring community partners and the partnerships formed with Mason is also an important part of the Seeds of Change event.  This year, a diverse set of community partners were nominated representing science and public health, food pantries, social services, and community schools around the world who have partnered with students, faculty, and staff at Mason. This year’s Exemplary Community Partner Award goes to Women Giving Back, whose mission is to support women and children in crisis, and build their confidence and self-esteem, by providing great quality clothing at no cost, assisted by caring and committed volunteers who offer personalized service and interaction. George Mason began partnering with WGB in October of 2012 when a small team of Honors College students volunteered at their warehouse on a Saturday morning and has since grown to significant numbers during orientation, the 9/11 Day of Service, and has partnered with a variety of classes and programs from across majors and disciplines, particularly through the Honors College, Integrative Studies and Women and Gender Studies. The newest Mason-WGB partnership focuses on faculty and graduate students assisting WGB with the development of program assessment tools so that they can be more competitive in seeking grants to support their work.  This partnership was honored because it represents a true synergistic commitment based on mutual respect and support.

As part of SAIL’s mission, partnerships are particularly important to build and sustain positive change.  The Outstanding Partnership Award recognizes partnerships between members of the Mason community who have engaged in a project or collaboration with the community. This year, SAIL honored  a partnership that continues to create opportunities for students through research, collaboration and the creation of a Strategic Plan for Sustainability.  In the words of their nominator, “If you’ve worked at Mason for any length of time, you’ll know that Dr. Dann Sklarew is a sustainability advocate and change-maker.” The Office of Sustainability is also astounding at creating institutionalized change focused on building a more sustainable world and campus. Dr. Dann and the Office of Sustainability’s partnership is one that exemplifies the value of collaborative work that manifests positive change by engaging students in the process of creating a sustainable future for Mason. This year we recognized  EVPP 490-008 & EVPP 692-004 Sustainability Planning for Communities, Dr. Dann Sklarew, Greg Farley, Sarah D'Alexander, Ben Auger, Doni Nolan, Colleen Regan, Amber Saxton, All students enrolled in EVPP 490-008 and EVPP 692, congratulations! 

Congratulations to all of our honorees, nominees and thank you for all that you do. 

For more information about the Seeds of Change nominees and their community engagement work, go to https://www.facebook.com/SAILMason/  Below is a complete list of nominees and winners. 

List of Winners


Community Engagement Medallion 

  1. Sarah Ahn, Conflict Analysis and Resolution 
  2. Jessica Barranco, Global and Community Health
  3. McKenna Bates, Government and International Politics
  4. Rhys Bethke, Environmental and Sustainabilities Studies
  5. Jacy Bolton, Integrative Studies 
  6. Mia Brice, Dance
  7. Geraldine Bruce-Cobbold, Criminology
  8. Anthony Cheeseboro, Criminology
  9. Sarah Crossen, Women and Gender Studies
  10. Juliette DeGraff, Global and Community Health
  11. Victoria Egee, Integrative Studies
  12. Obum Egolum, Information Technology
  13. Tasneem Elbackush, Community Health
  14. Angelica Felder, Community Health
  15. Trai Gozzi, Government and International Politics
  16. Emma Gregory, Environmental Science
  17. Isabel Jones, Integrative Studies
  18. Samaria Moss, English
  19. Nattacha Munakata, Community Health
  20. Louisa Musser, Integrative Studies
  21. Matthew Palagyi, Community Health
  22. Melissa Pennett, Global Sociology and Government And International Politics 
  23. Byron Phillips, Conflict Analysis and Resolution
  24. Benjamin Rhoades, Environmental and Sustainability Studies
  25. Jenna Rowell, Community Health
  26. Emmanuella Serwaa, Psychology/Integrative Studies
  27. Caroline Simpson, Public Administration

Active Citizen Award

  •     Kalkidan Yesuf- Winner 
  •     Magaly L Cabrera-Ortiz 
  •     Fiona Klotz
  •     Debbie Lewis-Manni
  •     Shafuq Naseem 
  •     Abigail Paige Smith
  •     Dorothea Tyree 

Dr. Julie Owen Award

  •     Asra Ahmad- Winner 
  •     Sharrell Hassell-Goodman 
  •     Biruk Haregu 
  •     Ashley Joiner 
  •     Stephani R. Keen 
  •     Francisco Morin 

Engaged Faculty Award

  •     Sharolyn Dugger, School of Nursing 
  •     Dr. Michael von Fricken, Global and Community Health 
  •     Dr. Samuel Frye, School of Integrative Studies
  •     Dr. Graziella Pagliarulo McCarron, School of Integrative Studies- Winner 
  •     Dr. Patrice Winter, Global and Community Health  

Engaged Staff Award

  •     Ms. Mihee Cho, Mason Korea
  •     Colleen Regan, Office of Sustainability
  •     Lisa Snyder, LEAD Office 
  •     Trasi Watson, Career Services 
  •     Philip Wilkerson, Career Services 
  •     Karen Wolf, University Life 

Outstanding Partner Award

  •     Ha Brock, Manager, Volunteer Reston Association 
  •     Stephen Lester, Science Director, Center for Health, Environment & Justice
  •     Patriot Pantry, Student Directors: Aspen Bass, Vanessa Arias, Evan Botzki Staff: Anna Cho and Matthew Carlos, Student Support and Advocacy Center
  •     David Mazariegos, Founder and Director Kamalbe School in Guatemala 
  •     Women Giving Back- Winner 

Outstanding Partnership Award

  •     Arbor Day & Halloween Trail, Ha Brock & Katie Shaw from Volunteer Reston with Jayson Padilla, Christian Suero and members of the Leadership through Community Engagement Living Learning Community 
  •     Center for Environmental Transformation and the Graterford Think Tank, Cathy Nevins and Mark Doorley, Center for Environmental Transformation; and Carrie Hutnick, member of the Graterford Think Tank
  •     EVPP 490-008 & EVPP 692-004 Sustainability Planning for Communities, Dr. Dann Sklarew, Greg Farley, Sarah D'Alexander, Ben Auger, Doni Nolan, Colleen Regan, Amber Saxton, All students enrolled in EVPP 490-008 and EVPP 692- Winner  
  •     Mason and Partners (MAP) Clinics with Dr. Rebecca Sutter, Dr. Caroline Sutter, Dr. Shanti Lloyd, Dr. Valenzuela, Global and Community Health/MAP Clinic staff, faculty and students; Dr. Carrie Bonilla, Modern and Classical Languages and Dr. Robyn Mehlenbeck, GMU Center for Psychological Services
  •     Sustainability at Patriot Hacks, Ben Auger and Sarah D’Alexander (Office of Sustainability), Afnan Ali (Patriot Hacks), Dinesh Kumar Karri (Hackathon Winner & Graduate Student Mentor), Ryan Cathey (BOT student organization project lead for Greenhouse Automation Project)
  •     UNICEF and African Student Association with FACETS

Visit this link for a photographic view of our 2020 honorees!