A Magazine for the George Mason University Community

Game Changer

By Teresa D. Allen, MFA '12 on August 1, 2018


Many alumni have one strong connection back to Mason—their degree program. Alumnus Rick Dunetz, BIS ’97, can boast three strong connections: degree, research, and recruitment.

The year Dunetz started at Mason was the year the Bachelor of Individualized Study Program was launched. He calls the BIS program a personal game-changer. Through it, he was able to transfer music credits from a prior institution and to take a multitude of interesting classes including business, art, and communications. He created a degree in multimedia communications and was able to finish while working three jobs.

Rick Dunetz

Dunetz mastered a wide range of skills in the BIS program: art, design, aesthetics, and not just “how to use a tool and technology,” he says, “but methodologies and general thought processes” that helped him see the world differently. He uses these skills as the executive director of Side-Out Foundation, which funds targeted “multiomic” research studies on metastatic breast cancer, a new method of combining genomic and proteomic research, creating individualized therapies for specific patients. Through Side-Out, youth volleyball players around the country host and manage local Dig Pink events that raise money for research, conduct breast cancer education, and write about their experiences.

Side-Out also represents Dunetz’s second connection to Mason: The organization raises millions of dollars to fund biomarker research conducted by Mason’s own Emanuel “Chip” Petricoin and Lance A. Liotta, co-directors of the Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine. To date, Side-Out has had more than 6,000 teams participating in Dig Pink events and has raised more than $12 million towards research.

Dunetz has seen many youth grow and even change their career and education plans through Dig Pink events.

And it is through these young people that he connects to Mason in a third way: He recruits Mason students and alumni from marketing, sports management, and other degrees to intern at Side-Out. “[It’s all about] giving young people an opportunity to be great,” he says, “to inspire student-athletes in our sport to use their ‘greatness’ to impact the world around them in a way that is significant and identifiable.”


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