Isabella Bah, who graduates this month with a degree in accounting and a minor in entrepreneurship, is described as a motivated and determined leader by her mentors at George Mason University.
Bah “is special because she embodies resilience and perseverance,” said Rhina Alvarado, associate director of Mason’s Early Identification Program (EIP), in which Bah, a first-generation student, participated beginning in the eighth grade.
“She knows the challenges many first-generation students face, and is committed to pay it forward by mentoring other first-generation students and serving as a role model to her peers,” Alvarado said.
Bah has been recognized by the Mason's Alumni Association as the Senior of the Year.
“I love the sense of community at Mason,” said Bah, a member of Mason’s Honors College. “I have had a lot of opportunities here, and I have worked hard.”
Bah has excelled at Mason, winning awards and finding leadership positions in which she has helped other students and the entire Mason community.
She earned the EagleBank Scholarship in Entrepreneurship and the Cardinal Bank Endowed Scholarship. Bah served as treasurer and then president of the African Student Association. She served as chairperson for Mason’s Student Chapter Reporting and Evaluation Program for the National Association of Black Accountants.
Bah serves as the treasurer and fundraising chairperson for a local nonprofit organization, Safe Haven Space, that helps provide mental health and wellness resources to immigrant and refugee communities. In high school, Bah participated in a variety of volunteer activities, such as providing food for the homeless.
“She often comes to my office after rushing from one leadership meeting to another, to let me know of more ways for students to get involved and, of course, to review her courses,” said Malerie Gamblin, Bah’s academic advisor in the School of Business.
Bah, of Woodbridge, Virginia, said it was her participation in EIP that made her determined to attend Mason.
“Through EIP, I knew the resources and opportunities available to me,” Bah said. “I was pretty set on coming to Mason. I also knew it wasn’t too far from home, and that attracted me too.”
EIP provides access to educational resources for middle and high school students who will be first in their families to attend college. It provided Bah with friends and mentors that helped ease her transition from high school.
“I already had my EIP family and that gave me strength,” Bah said. “As I grew at Mason, I ventured out into other groups and was able to foster relationships that made my years here much more enjoyable.”
Bah, who has two younger sisters, stayed active in EIP, serving as the budget assistant and as a mentor for the middle and high school students in the program.
“I’m glad my sisters were able to see all I was able to accomplish, and that has helped them to envision what they can accomplish,” Bah said. “My parents want us to have a better life, and so to see me excel makes them very happy.”