Doreen Joseph, who graduated in Spring 2019 with a B.S. in Cyber Security Engineering, maintains her passion for supporting underrepresented students as they access spaces that might otherwise be out of reach.
While at Mason, Joseph was an active member of the Honors College. Joseph was also a true exemplar of the Honors College's commitment to interdisciplinary learning, leading the Pre-College Initiative for Mason’s chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and the Honors College Multicultural Alliance (HCMA), then known as the Honors College Black Ambition. An emerging leader, she encouraged students to explore under-utilized resources available on campus.
Now, Joseph is attending a fully-funded PhD program in Computer Science at the University of California, Davis.
At Davis, she continues to wear the many hats she picked up during her time at Mason. Joseph serves as a board member on the Coordinating Council on Graduate Affairs (CCGA), a committee on the UC Systemwide Academic Senate and the University Committee on Affirmative Action, Diversity, and Equity (UCAADE), as well as on Davis’s Chancellor's Graduate & Professional Student Advisory Board (CGPSA).
“I joined the committees because when I was at Mason, I was part of the president's student advisory group for two years as well, so I thought that would be a continuation of that. I've learned a lot.”
As a board member, Joseph advises the Office of the Chancellor and advocates on the behalf of graduate and professional students, giving her an opportunity to lift the voices of underrepresented students in the university system, and make recommendations to amend unjust policies.
“[One group I’m part of] at UC Davis is focused on anti-racism.” The group, UC Davis Graduate Studies Working Group on Anti-Racism, focuses on recruitment and retention of UC Davis’s students of color. “We design short term, medium term, long term solutions to [adjust] university policies for recruitment to make them more anti-racist and more social justice-oriented.”
Just as she did at Mason, Joseph is constantly in search of new learning opportunities at UC Davis. “[In] The College of Engineering, we're looking for a new dean, so I've been involved as part of their recruitment advisory committee. It has been a really demanding process, but we're on the tail end of it now. That’s been good because I had no idea what a dean does before I became part of this committee.”
“When I started at Mason, I just had the intention of getting my degree and getting out, you know?” says Joseph, reflecting on how she got involved in so many different spheres of the university. Then, in her UNIV 100: Introduction to Mason course, Joseph was given an assignment that asked her to meet with a faculty member to discuss her future. “I met with Dr. LaNitra Berger because I knew I was interested in doing a PhD in a cyber security-related field, and when I met with her, she said, ‘You basically want to focus on two things: maintaining good grades and leadership,’ so that set the trajectory for the rest of my time at Mason and [beyond].”
In addition to her passion for cyber security engineering and computer science, through her service on student-led advisory committees, Joseph has also discovered a passion for higher education administration.
“I never considered education as a field that I would go into, but I [have been] doing all these different leadership things, sitting on advisory committees and trying to be where decisions are made for the university to kind of see how the whole enterprise runs.”
In both realms, STEM and education, Joseph knows that she wants to bring her values of service and diverse thought to the table, making sure to uplift the voices of students who have been marginalized. In the past year, she has found an intersection between the two: mentoring young girls in computer science. When planning for this mentorship, Joseph asked herself how she could make this relevant to these young girls.
“[Capturing the girls’ attention] included talking about computer science in fashion [instead of just] coding — I like coding, but I'd be bored if I had to do that every single day for the rest of my life.” As she moves through the two fields, Joseph is committed to “finding different ways to capture the audience and talk about an interesting aspect of the field,” that can draw in students who otherwise might not have seen a future for themselves in STEM spaces.
For Joseph, the commitment to inclusion and empowerment of students is deeply personal. “I feel like I've been very fortunate with all the different opportunities I’ve had, so I just want to make sure that other students have those opportunities as well,” she reflects.
“Part of it is being an example in just the way that you live, but it’s also about being intentional about helping others out and encouraging and empowering them to become the best they can become. I feel like I held myself back for a long time not really believing in myself and then, when I started doing things, I was always capable of a lot more than I thought I was.”
Referring to the multitude of opportunities available to Honors College students, Joseph says, “the whole point of college is to find what you're interested in and you can't do that if you don't try out different things. You may try something and then figure out that you really hated it, and that's okay. Now, that's a piece of information that you have that you wouldn't have had before.”
Joseph’s advice to current Honors College students is simple: “Explore!”