2019, Honors College
Doreen Joseph has a passion for reaching and serving underrepresented students in privileged spaces.
Joseph is now at a fully-funded PhD in Computer Science at the University of California, Davis.
While at Mason, Doreen was an active member of the Honors College while purusing the Cyber Security Engineering. She used here passion for helping other underpresented people as a driving force for her work with the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). Last year, Joseph served as the Terror Zone (D.C., MD, VA) Coordinator. She oversaw all NSBE chapters in the DMV region and plans zone summits, one of which occurred earlier in the Fall 2018 semester.
Joseph made sure that her workshops for the summit were accessible to both collegiate NSBE and K-12 NSBE Jr. members.
Before becoming a leader for NSBE nationwide, she served as Vice President of George Mason’s chapter during her junior year. In this role, she ensured that the chapter’s board members were fulfilling their duties.
“I have been able to use that with the presidents [of the various university NSBE chapters] I am interacting with this year,” Joseph said, relating her campus position to her national role. “I [make] sure they are interacting with their chapters on campus and [that] they are getting all of the information they need to be successful leaders in this organization.”
Joseph has worn many hats during her time at Mason. During her sophomore year, she was the Pre-College Initiative Chair for NSBE, empowering K-12 students to pursue STEM fields in college.
Joseph was also the Resource Chairperson for the Honors College Multicultural Alliance (HCMA), then known as the Honors College Black Ambition. The young leader encouraged students to use available campus resources, informing them about resources less often known.
As Resource Chairperson, Joseph learned the importance of accessibility when developing the Honors College library, which provides free books to Honors College students courtesy of donations from previous students. Joseph’s original plan for creating a database led to the issue of the library not being accessible to those who could not work the software. At the recommendation of Honors College Digital Initiatives Coordinator Richard Todd Stafford, she used a more familiar program that made the library available to a wider range of students.
“The biggest thing I learned was accessibility, and it has helped me a lot as I’ve tried to get more students interested in STEM, because there’s a lot of resources that aren’t accessible to underrepresented students in STEM,” said Joseph.
Joseph served as the treasurer for HCMA her junior year, a role that felt natural to her. “I’m a numbers person,” said Joseph, who is minoring in mathematics. This role helped Joseph become a more assertive leader, preparing her for future leadership positions.
Joseph is still heavily involved with the Honors College, serving as a Peer Research Mentor and on the Honors College Recruitment Team. She also works admissions events for the university as a representative for the Honors College.
“[I hope] that I am empowering the prospective students that are students of color to actually apply [to the Honors College],” said Joseph. “They would make a great addition to our honors community, and that’s especially true for EIP students.”
The EIP, or Early Identification Program, works specifically with prospective first-generation college students, and Joseph provides students in the program with information on the Honors College along with tips on how to succeed at Mason.
“A lot of them are already driven,” Joseph said of the students. “We already know they would be successful in the Honors College. It’s just getting them to actually apply and making them see that it would be something good for them.”
Joseph also served on President Cabrera’s President-Student Advisory Group for two years, being a voice for engineering students, whom she works with as a Peer Mentor.
“I was actually the only engineering student on there,” Joseph said. “That taught me a lot about representation [and] making sure that people[’s], who don’t necessarily have a voice, concerns are heard.”
Joseph is spending much of her senior year filling out graduate school applications and completing a senior design project with Northrop Grumman to design a cyber-secure architecture for satellite systems. The driven student credits Honors College faculty member Dr. LaNitra Berger for her success so far with the applications process and with finding fellowships.
“I think the faculty are really cool,” Joseph said, encouraging all Honors College students to speak with faculty in the Honors College. The young leader praised the Honors College advising process and its success at helping students realize their potential.
“I wouldn’t be in cyber security engineering if it wasn’t for Dr. Alligood,” Joseph said of Dr. Kathleen Alligood, a now retired Mason professor of mathematics.
Joseph is also a part of Honors College professor Dr. Blake Silver’s Honors 330 civic engagement course that focuses on creating a student advisory board for the Honors College.
“I really love that idea,” Joseph said about the board. “I really want to see it come to fruition.”
Joseph hopes that the Honors College continues to serve underrepresented students long after her graduation.
“I think Dean Burr [has] been a great advocate, a great ally for underrepresented students,” Joseph said. “Finding avenues to get voices from those students and serv[ing] them as best they can, I think, is a big thing.”
Joseph deeply believes that advocacy for underrepresented students is important and that the power of the potential student advisory board could make a great impact on Mason as a whole.
“I think that’s my biggest thing,” Joseph said, “serving students who are underserved.”
Original reporting by Zaria Talley. Photograph courtesy of Evan Cantwell / Creative Services.