Graduating students take time to reminisce about life at Mason

December 16, 2015

Here’s a look at a few of the Patriots receiving undergraduate degrees Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015.

Samantha Engle, Bachelor of Individualized Studies, works as a certified veterinary practice manager studying healthcare management. Photo by Evan Cantwell.

Samantha “Sami” Engle doesn’t shy away from discussing sensitive topics.

For her capstone project at Mason she studied the topic of compassion fatigue in veterinary and human health care.

The condition is common among caregivers and causes feelings of helplessness, stress and anxiety.

Her research was approved by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards Registry for Approved Continuing Education, clearing her to give the presentation to veterinarians, technicians and other managers who can receive credit for it.

She hopes to present her research to veterinary practice leaders across the country.

Engle, who is graduating from Mason with a bachelor of individualized studies, looks back at her years at Mason with fond memories.

“As an extracurricular activity, I took up scuba diving classes on campus with Dr. Tom Wood and Greg Justice, received elective credits for the class and became a certified open water diver,” she said.

She took a seven-day course with the duo in the Exumas in the Bahamas, scuba diving several times a day to study biodiversity of the ephemeral coral reef system.

“My best advice to incoming students would be to take advantage of all the wonderful opportunities Mason has to offer, both on and off campus,” she said. “If you are not always looking forward to the next exciting thing you are doing with Mason, you are missing out.”


Roman Voytko Barrosse Photo provided

Roman Barrosse is a Reston native who is graduating with a bachelor of arts degree in theater. He already has a post-graduation plan: He wants to start a nonprofit called Theatre of the Oppressed: DC Metro. He wants to use theatrical techniques developed by Augusto Boal to create positive change in individuals and communities facing problems such as mental illness, violence or social injustice, he said.

His fondest memory of Mason is delivering a guest lecture on theatre as a social action in one of his professor’s classes.

“I felt really proud that I have come so far in this program to be able to speak with authority on a subject in which I am building my career,” he said. “It was great to see the interest expressed by my peers.”

He also speaks openly about his struggles with depression and anxiety during his undergraduate years at Mason.

“When it began interfering with my work, I went to CAPS [Counseling and Psychological Services] and got help from their personal counselors and learning services staff,” he said. “I'm still in awe of how much help and support I received from everyone I reached out to.”

Barrosse has a bit of advice for new college students who may share his struggles.

“If you need help, there are so many places on campus you can go!” he said. “Use the resources available to you and communicate with your instructors.” 

Lyn Midcap Photo provided

Lyn Midcap always wanted a career in sports. A bachelor’s degree in sport management helped her achieve that goal: She has been hired as a partnership marketing manager with the NFL’s Washington Redskins. Midcap works to fulfill contracts with the team’s corporate partners, develops social media campaigns and plans partner events at FedEx Field.

“A job in the National Football League takes a great attention to detail and a lot of persistence and determination. But the feeling of accomplishment when I see my work on the field and in the stadium is truly amazing,” she said. “I absolutely love what I am doing.”

She advises incoming students to jump on opportunities both in and out of the classroom.

“You will meet more people and gain more skills that will make you that much more desirable to employers and important future contacts.”

She also urges students to cultivate and maintain contact with faculty in their interest areas. “I truly do not know where I would be in my career without the help of my sport management professors,” she said.

Sage Janulis. Photo by Evan Cantwell.

Sage Janulis hasn’t wasted much time at Mason. The Richmond, Va., native is leaving Mason with degrees in Conflict Analysis and Resolution and Government and International Politics. She’s also been a resident advisor; a peer advisor; a co-teacher of University 100 courses; an intern at the State Department, the Jewish Community Relations Council and the Democratic Party of Virginia; and a summer camp counselor. She’s hoping to teach English in Israel after graduation and begin a career working with international students. 

“My best memory is of our community service week in Guatemala. The experience of being introduced to a new culture and meeting locals gave me a deeper appreciation of diversity and took learning to a whole new level,” she said.

“My advice to new students is to use your time at Mason to explore and grow. Invest your time in relationship-building among your peers as well as with faculty and staff. Share your personal experiences and also be willing to listen to understand others.” 

Marlayna Bush, B.A. '15. Photo by Evan Cantwell

Marlayna Bush will tell you right off, she is going to run for a seat on the Arlington County School Board in 2018 and she is going to win. She says the skills she learned earning her BA in conflict analysis and resolution have prepared her to address and potentially alter policies that inhibited her childhood education.

At Mason, Bush finally found the help needed to overcome her learning disability—she has difficulty processing information.

“There’s no way to figure out how I understand concepts,” she said. “No one could figure out how I learned. Every lesson was like a new experiment every time."

At Mason, Bush found support among administrators, professors and other students, resulting in her acceptance into the country’s most prestigious honor societies.

In fact, her favorite memory of Mason was getting accepted to Phi Beta Kappa.

“My best piece of advice for incoming students is to advocate for yourself; do not let anyone tell you ‘no’ or ‘you’re not good enough.’ You are good enough, and never let anyone take that from you,” she said.


Nathan LaPierre. Photo provided

Nathan LaPierre is graduating with a BS in applied computer science from the Volgenau School of Engineering, but he’ll be back in February to lead a hackathon called HackMason, an event organized by Mason’s Student-Run Computing and Technology organization.

LaPierre hails from Annandale and is applying to doctoral programs in computer science as well as graduate research fellowships.

“I think my best memory of Mason is when I was notified this summer that my research would be published,” he said.

LaPierre’s research uses machine learning and data mining techniques to predict whether or not patients have liver cirrhosis or hepatic encephalopathy, a brain disorder caused by liver cirrhosis. He presented his work in November at the IEEE International Conference on Data Mining workshop on Biological Data Mining and its Applications in Healthcare.

His advice for incoming students is to try to meet as many people as possible early in your college career and get involved in student organizations.

“Don't be afraid to admit you don't know something. Asking the right questions and learning is more important,” he said.

He also encourages Patriots to explore research opportunities, internships, teaching and volunteer experiences so they can uncover what they’re passionate about.

“Balance school and other work with your own needs and time you spend with friends and family. You need all of those things to be happy and successful. Also, balance ambition and pragmatism, because you need both of those as well.”

Compiled by Jamie Rogers, with Damian Cristodero, Buzz McClain and Michele McDonald