Announcement: Black Excellence Gala & Lavender and Women and Gender Studies Graduation

On April 28, 2022, the Center for Culture, Equity, and Empowerment (CCEE) will be hosting the Black Excellence Gala and the LGBTQ+ Resources Center, along with the Women and Gender Studies Center, will be hosting the Lavender & Women and Gender Studies Graduation. Both events will be a time to celebrate and honor the accomplishments and hard work of our student communities who have been historically marginalized. We recognize and uplift that many of our students sit at the intersections of various identities such as Black and LGBTQ+ to name a few.

Recognizing that there is a time conflict between the two events, we want to acknowledge students at the intersections of these identities. CCEE, WGST, and the LGBTQ+ Resources Center honor and support our Queer and Trans Students of Color. Thus, we have prepared a few pathways for students to engage in either or both events on that day.

If you would like to attend both events please reach out to either:

  • Dr. Tamara Washington from CCEE
  • Josh Kinchen from the LGBTQ+ Resources Center
  • Dr. David Powers Corwin from WGST
Heritage Months

2022 Black and African Heritage Month

The Center for Culture, Equity, and Empowerment, along with other campus departments, is celebrating Black and African Heritage Month with numerous events all throughout the month of February!

This year, we aim to center and uplift the wellbeing of Black life on our campus. To provide opportunities for storytelling, reflection, and thought. To pay homage to our ancestors, and to honor the work and the impacts that many of us have made that further exemplify our resilience and strength.

Check out all of the events happening around campus below.

Please note that the calendar will be updated frequently, so be sure to check back for any changes or updates!

Heritage Months

2021 Hispanic Heritage Month

CCEE is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15th – October 15th!

We would love to have you join us in honoring HHM! This year, we aim to center and uplift the celebration of Hispanic and Latinx students, faculty, staff, and alumni at George Mason University. To provide opportunities for storytelling, reflection, empowerment, and community.

Check out the events happening around campus below.

Please note that the calendar will be updated frequently, so be sure to check back for any changes or updates!


2021 Juneteenth

This year has exposed the painful realities of systemic racism in our nation and challenged us all to step up and be active participants in creating a more just society that moves towards collective liberation through antiracist work. This Saturday, June 19, we will honor and observe Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, an annual commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States.

The Center for Culture, Equity, and Empowerment encourages each of you to honor this holiday by participating in Juneteenth events, engaging in educational resources, supporting local black-owned businesses, and taking the time to reconnect with the community at large.

A few local opportunities to commemorate Juneteenth are:

  • Vienna, VA: Juneteenth Celebration Event Calendar
  • Dumfries, VA: Inaugural Juneteenth Parade, Saturday, June 19, 2021, 7:00pm, Merchant Park, 3944 Cameron St, Dumfries, VA.
  • Fredericksburg, VA: Juneteenth Celebration at Pratt Park, Saturday, June 19, 2021, 12:00pm-8:00pm, Pratt Park,120 River Road, Fredericksburg, 22405
  • Fredericksburg, VA: Annual Stafford Region Juneteenth Celebration, Saturday, June 19, 4:00pm, 120 River Rd, Fredericksburg, VA
  • Click here, to learn more about Freedom Day by perusing and selecting a book from the Juneteenth reading list provided by the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
  • Click here, to test your Juneteenth knowledge by taking a quiz provided by International African American Museum.

Participating in Juneteenth commemoration events and taking time to educate ourselves is just a start! Recognizing Juneteenth is the beginning of many proactive ways that we can take to build a campus and community culture that actively addresses disparities, disrupt racist policies and procedures at a local level and nationally, address anti-blackness, and supports our community.

Have a safe and enjoyable holiday while continuing the work of equity and inclusion.

Hamal Strayhorn
Center for Culture, Equity, and Empowerment


Statement on Derek Chauvin’s Outcome

Greetings Mason Family,   

Coalition Building and Diversity Education (CBDE) as well as the Center for Culture, Equity, and Empowerment (CCEE) acknowledge that some, particularly in the Black Community, may be experiencing a wave of emotions and thoughts after the guilty verdict rendered in the Derek Chauvin case and we want you to know that we stand in solidary with you.  

Yesterday’s verdict will never bring George Floyd back to his family and loved ones and it does not fully address the effects continuously inflicted by racial trauma the Black community and other communities of color experience. For years, our nation has watched injustice unfold time and time again as Black lives are taken violently by police without accountability. CBDE and CCEE recognizes, Chauvin’s guilty verdict is not justice, for justice implies restoration. However, we are hopeful that this measure of accountability will pave the way for authentic systemic reform in policing nationwide, which may be the first step towards justice. 

What do we do now that a verdict has been rendered?  

  1. We take a deep breath: Take care of our Wellbeing by connecting with loved ones and seeking therapy or guidance from spiritual and faith leaders.  
  1. TakeactionWe who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes.” One verdict of accountability does alleviate systemic issues, so we must continue the work by joining organizations that fight for justice and police reform.  
  1. Support the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act: Let’s call 202.499.6085 and connect with our US Representatives and voice our support in passing this bill to reform policing nationwide. 
  1. Register to vote:  Use your voice in all elections and register to vote.  

This moment will continue to impact us months from now. Wchallenge our campus community to confront all forms of systematic injustice in your world and area of influenceIt is important above all things to acknowledge one another and takeaction when neededThere is no liberation without collective community care. 

Please know the staff in CBDE and CCEE are here for you and if you need to talk to us, or share ideas, don’t hesitate to email us at and 


Now Hiring Students


The Team

The Student Access and Equity team supports campus and student engagement for students who are historically underrepresented in higher education and their allies. This team specifically centers college students who are first-generation, have low socioeconomic statuses, and students who are undocumented, including students protected by Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Temporary Protected Status (TPS), or who are seeking or have pending asylum status. Working together as full-time staff, graduate assistants, and undergraduate staff, we work to enhance the student experience through services, programs, policy awareness, and educating the campus community.

UndocuAlly Trainer (4 positions available)

Position Overview
The UndocuAlly Training team (as a part of the Student Access and Equity area within CCEE) includes the ongoing development of an established training curriculum to advance awareness across and beyond campus about undocumented communities (experiences, policy, language, support). Each trainer brings their own skills and experiences, but the training team works together to deliver educational content and facilitate engaging activities for faculty, staff, students, and off-campus partners to advance support for the undocumented student community.

This team works directly with the Student Support Coordinator for Student Access and Equity that works primarily with undocumented student support. All trainers are accountable to and report to the Associate Director for Student Access and Equity.

Click HERE to apply.

Student Support Coordinator, Student Access and Equity (1 position available)

Position Overview
The Student Support Coordinator (SSC) for Student Access and Equity (working with undocumented students) position includes completion of administrative tasks, trainings, direct student support and referrals, and ongoing enhancement of student-centered programs and initiatives towards the development, affirmation, and support of students who are undocumented, DACAmented, and Temporary Protected Status. This position reports to the Associate Director.

Click HERE to apply.

Application Process

Applications for both positions are due by Monday, April 19, 12:00 p.m. (Noon) on Handshake. Applicants that need additional assistance of who have questions, should email the hiring manager Dr. Amber Holton-Thomas ( Note: Students interested in both the Student Support Coordinator, SAE (undocumented student position) and UndocuAlly Trainer position are encouraged to apply to both positions and will be considered for both. Please also be sure to update your cover letter to align with each position separately.

To apply, submit your application online through Handshake. Your application will include:
1. Cover Letter
2. Resume
3. Reference List

– April 20 – Students selected for an interview will be emailed to confirm an interview time. References will be checked at the time of interview invitation.
– April 21-23 – Interviews with candidates. Interviews will last between 30-45 minutes (via phone or Zoom)
– Monday, April 26 – Offer will be made to selected students. Once accepted, all other students will be notified via email or phone.


Email the hiring manager Dr. Amber Holton-Thomas (


Stop Asian Hate Support Spaces

Mason’s Center for Culture, Equity, and Empowerment (CCEE) is acknowledging the recent attacks against the Asian community in the Greater Atlanta area. We stand in solidarity with all APIDA members of the Mason family and strongly condemn these acts of violence. Today, many people in the Mason Community woke up to fear, sadness, anger, anxiety, and uncertainty as they grappled with this very intentional act of violence. As of this morning, we have learned the names of just some of the victims and those injured:

Ms. Yaun, Xiaojie Tan, Daoyou Feng, Paul Andre Michels and Elcias R. Hernandez-Ortiz.

Tuesday’s killing is just one day of a spike in attacks against the Asian community in recent years. Again, we strongly condemn these attacks and are actively seeking means to safety and justice. We will be holding support spaces today and tomorrow for all of our APIDA students. Below you’ll find the sessions, zoom links, and additional resources:

Support Spaces

Students and community members can drop in during these windows of time to reflect and process with a staff member

Thursday, March 18th

  • Mengqi Li: Drop-in style: 1:1 time slots
    • 1 – 1:30pm, 1:30 – 2pm, 2 – 2:30pm, and 2:30 – 3pm
    •  Zoom Link 
  • Crystal Davidson: Drop-in style: Group Reflection

Friday, March 19th

  • Brandi Blake & Mengqi Li: Drop-in Style: Group Reflection (Guided Dialogue)


Student Resources


George Mason University Receives First-gen Forward Designation

Lex Lewis-Semien (she/her)
Assistant Director, Student Access and Equity
Center for Culture, Equity, and Empowerment

Deana Waintraub Staffor
Associate Director,
Center for First-generation Student Success

George Mason University Receives First-gen Forward Designation;
National Honor for Commitment to First-generation Student Success

FAIRFAX, VIRGINIA (March 1st, 2021) The Center for First-generation Student Success, an initiative of NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education and The Suder Foundation, recently announced the 2021-22 First-gen Forward cohort. The First-gen Forward designation recognizes institutions of higher education who have demonstrated a commitment to improving experiences and advancing outcomes of first-generation college students. Selected institutions receive professional development, community-building experiences, and a first look at the Center’s research and resources.

At George Mason University, first-generation students are defined as students whose parent(s)/legal guardian(s) have a highest level of education from a community college; did not complete a bachelor’s degree; or completed a degree outside of the United States. As of Fall 2020, Mason reported that 20% of all first-time freshmen and 26% of all undergraduate degree-seeking students were first-generation college students. 78% of first-gen students enrolled in Fall 2020 were attending full-time. First-generation college students face various barriers when trying to excel both academically and socially. Mason works to eliminate these additional barriers and foster first-generation student success through intentional programming and catered support. This support includes:

  • Early Identification Program: George Mason University’s college preparatory program for first-generation students in collaboration with local schools.
  • Student Transition Empowerment Program: Mason’s Center for Culture, Equity, and Empowerment’s (CCEE) initiative created to enhance the recruitment, engagement, and retention of first-generation college students accepted to George Mason University.
  • First-Generation Peer Mentoring Program: CCEE’s mentoring program to support first-generation student success.
  • First-Generation Student Task Force: Task force led by Mason Faculty/Staff who were first-generation students themselves.

“The Center is so pleased to welcome George Mason University into the 2021-22 First-gen Forward cohort. Through the application process, it was evident that Mason is not only taking steps to serve first-generation students but is prepared to make a long-term commitment and employ strategies that foster an environment of success for this important population,” said Dr. Sarah E. Whitley, assistant vice president, Center for First-generation Student Success.

Dr. Creston Lynch, assistant vice president for University Life at Mason said, “We, at Mason, are excited to be in this First-gen Forward cohort because it not only further positions our faculty and staff to continue their amazing and comprehensive work in support of first-generation students, but it also aligns directly with the Mason University Life vision that “every student succeeds” during and after their time here.”

As a First-gen Forward Institution, interested faculty and staff will be afforded multiple opportunities to engage with peer institutions who are also creating environments that improve the experiences and outcomes of first-generation students. Selected institutions will send representatives to the First-gen Forward Workshop slated for early-June and will participate in monthly phone calls, virtual professional development, goal setting, blog development, annual reporting, and more. After two successful years in the program, institutions are eligible to apply for the Advisory leadership designation.

“First-gen Forward is an exciting opportunity for George Mason University to join a dedicated community of professionals prepared to share evidence-based practices and resources, troubleshoot challenges, generate knowledge, and continue to advance the success of first-generation students across the country. We are excited to see a groundswell of activity from the First-gen Forward cohort and know Mason will be a significant contributor,” offered Dr. Kevin Kruger, president and CEO of NASPA.

To learn more about the Center for First-generation Student Success, visit

NASPA—Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education is the leading association for the advancement, health, and sustainability of the student affairs profession. Its work provides high-quality professional development, advocacy, and research for 15,000 members in all 50 states, 25 countries, and 8 U.S. territories. Visit for more information.

The Center for First-generation Student Success is the premier source of evidence-based practices, professional development, and knowledge creation for the higher education community to advance the success of first-generation students. Through four strategic priority areas, the Center drives higher education innovation and advocacy for first-generation student success.

Click HERE to download a copy of the press release.


Stand Against anti-Asian Racism and Violence

Mason’s Center for Culture, Equity, and Empowerment (CCEE) CCEE is acknowledging the recent attacks against Asian elders and those in the Asian community. We stand in solidarity with all APIDA members of the Mason family. On January 28, in San Francisco, 84-year-old Vicha Ratanapakdee was knocked to the ground and killed while walking in his neighborhood. There have been over 20 attacks in Oakland’s Chinatown in the past two weeks that the local Chamber of Commerce considered to be targeted against Asians. On January 31, an assailant violently knocked a 91 year old man to the ground and later attacked an older man and woman. On February 3, in New York City, Noel Quintana, 61, was slashed across the face, and on the same day in Oakland, a 71 year-old grandmother was knocked to the ground while crossing the street and robbed. (HRW) There has been a significant uptick in violence against Asian Americans since Covid-19 entered the United States in late 2019; invoking harmful rhetoric from former Presidential leadership surrounding the virus’ origin. We stand in solidarity with our Asian American students in the Mason community and strongly condemn these acts of violence. We pray that justice is served for the victims and their families.

What we can do:

  • Continue to learn & amplify issues about all forms of violence against Asians and Asian American communities.
  • Check-in with elders in your community; ask them what they need.
  • Hold each other accountable.
  • Work to end white supremacy, anti-Blackness, xenophobia, poverty, police violence and the violence within and against our communities.
  • Support, volunteer with, and learn from community-based groups who are organizing on the ground around the needs of elders & community safety.
  • Continue to build cross-racial solidarity.

Social media is uncovering several overarching societal themes attached to the violent incidents, including an influx of anti-black rhetoric and the nuance and complexities within the model minority myth. To learn more visit

If you would like to process thoughts about these incidents, please email Brandi Blake at . If there is interest, we will host a processing space. 

Heritage Months

2021 Black and African Heritage Month

CCEE is celebrating Black and African Heritage Month with numerous events all throughout the month of February!

During the summer of 2020 and presently, we have received an outpouring of support and programmatic ideas that centered Black and African Diasporic Student Communities due to the racial unrest that swept the nation. This February, folks have created programming that centers and uplifts the wellbeing of Black life on our campus. These programs highlight storytelling, heritage, allyship, reflection, activism, appreciation, history, advocacy, resilience or strength. 

This year’s theme, “Sankofa,” is a metaphorical symbol of a bird with its head turned backwards which originated by the Akan people of Ghana. The word is derived from the words: SAN (return), KO (go), and FA (look, seek, and take). The Akan believe that the past serves as our guide for the future and that there is wisdom in learning from the past to ensure a strong future. As we enter a space of healing, restoration, and a search for peace after 2020, it is imperative that we, as a community, use the metaphorical symbol of Sankofa to learn from our past and embrace our history to better shape our future for our current communities and for generations to come.

Check out all of the events happening around campus below.

Please note that the calendar will be updated frequently, so be sure to check back for any changes or updates!