Making the Most of Life at Mason
To help pay my college expenses, I worked as a part-time receptionist for the English Department through the work-study program. That job helped me pick my major and eventually my career.
I had always loved to read but was undecided about my major when I came to George Mason. Getting to know the English professors introduced me to a new level of appreciation for great writers. Among them was Marilyn Mobley McKenzie, who opened me up to so many new experiences. She made me want to get every nuance the author offered in each book she assigned. I took every class she taught. Before her classes, I had never even heard of Terry McMillan (that was before the movie Waiting to Exhale). Now, I am not only a McMillan fan, but I also have a new appreciation for and deeper understanding of many writers I may never have experienced were it not for Mobley McKenzie. Mason is known for its cultural diversity, and thanks to Mobley McKenzie, I was given a chance to delve into the literary aspect of that diversity.
I did not think I could get a job with an English degree, but working in the English Department made me soon decide that I could not be happy majoring in anything but English. I can honestly say that the career I have today would not have been possible without my English degree from Mason. I was hired immediately after graduation as a technical writer for the U.S. Coast Guard and have since worked my way up to senior security analyst, writing security certification and accreditation documentation on U.S. Navy contracts. I have the career of which I never even dared to dream. My company allows me to telecommute five days a week, which lets me spend more time with my children, still have a challenging career, and wear sweats to work everyday.
Mason not only helped me choose my major and eventually my career path, it was also responsible for a wonderful friendship. During my freshman year in the dorms, I lived in a quad with two other roommates. My one roommate and I enjoyed each other's company so much that we roomed together our entire four years, both on and off campus. It has been almost 10 years since I left Mason, and I am still in constant contact with my former roomie. She was a bridesmaid in my wedding, she is the godmother of my oldest son, she is the person I call when I need a shoulder to cry on, and she is the person who can still make me laugh by reliving college memories. I have a friendship that not everyone is lucky enough to encounter in his or her lifetime.
Shonda (Mason) Milhon graduated from George Mason with a BA in English in 1995. She is a senior security analyst for Darlington Incorporated.
Do you fondly remember certain places within the George Mason community that exemplified the "college experience"? Were you befriended by a mentor or professor at George Mason who influenced your life? If so, tell us about it. Send your submission to Alumni Affairs, George Mason University, 4400 University Drive, MS 3B3, Fairfax, Virginia 22030. Please keep submissions to a maximum of 500 words.