2020, Honors College
Ensuring everyone has a voice is important to senior Communication and Government and International Politics double major Adia McLaughlin.
McLaughlin began to explore her own paths as a freshman in Honors 110 Principles of Research and Inquiry. “It was my first experience writing a full research paper,” she explained. “And I had done all of my research, written out a draft, took it to my professor, and he said, ‘No…this is not you.’”
This became a defining moment for McLaughlin as she was inspired to find an issue that appealed to her specific passions. Her final research paper explored the divide in health services for African-American women verses other demographics.
Reflecting on her formative experience in Principles of Research and Inquiry, McLaughlin says, “Mason’s Honors College makes you challenge yourself, and then, once you think you’ve challenged yourself, push yourself further. I will never forget that class.”
McLaughlin’s research for the class kickstarted her exploration into other human rights initiatives. She developed a passion for helping innocent people who are wrongly incarcerated and went on to join the Global Politics Fellowship. In this academic program, students are given the opportunity to explore the role of government in society and research current issues facing the world.
For a couple weeks in January 2019, McLaughlin studied abroad in Zanzibar, Tanzania. During the experience, McLaughlin and her peers not only learned about human trafficking, but they also got to face the effects of it on a community firsthand. “We were on the streets seeing the symptoms of trafficking,” McLaughlin describes. “I found myself thinking, ‘I could do something about this.’”
McLaughlin continues to pursue her passion for helping others with her sorority sisters of Alpha Omicron Pi. The sorority focuses on philanthropy, partnering with the Arthritis Foundation and fundraising money towards finding a cure to arthritis. “There’s nothing like being able to see where your money is going and seeing the change you are making for people,” McLaughlin explains. “There’s not a cure now, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t fight towards finding one.”
In addition to finding opportunities to help her community, McLaughlin also works to ensure that George Mason students are able to voice their own concerns and ideas. As Student Body Vice President, McLaughlin oversees executive decisions, lending aid to different projects. McLaughlin is currently focused on Title IX administration in the university, investigating how disputes are handled and addressing students who felt their needs were not met last year.
“One of the biggest things for our organization is doing outreach,” says McLaughlin, describing the importance of connecting Mason students with opportunities to share their opinions. “[Student Government is] here to push for what students want to change and to speak up on their behalf.”
After graduation, McLaughlin plans to continue working to give everyone a voice. While currently holding an internship with Senator Richard Burr, McLaughlin is preparing for law school. “One of my goals is to go to a law school with an innocence project,” McLaughlin explains, intending to pursue a path that would fight to protect innocent people convicted of crimes.
In the end, McLaughlin is thankful for Honors 110 Principles of Research and Inquiry. “I remember [that class] being such a breakthrough for me,” she says, noting how it inspired her to get involved in the places she wanted to see change. “That was the class that broke me, then built me.”