Making her mark at Mason

Making her mark at Mason
Photo courtesy of Fatma Gdoura

George Mason University senior, Fatma Gdoura, is one of eight students to receive the College of Humanities and Social Sciences Dean’s Challenge Award in 2018 in recognition of her academic achievements. A senior economics major with a data analysis minor, her commitment to her studies places her among the top one percent of those in her degree program, and led to her selection for the Fall 2018 Joseph Schumpeter Fellowship where she will learn the fundamental political economy concepts and how to implement them academically and in policy research.

Throughout her time at Mason, Gdoura worked several internships and volunteered at a number of organizations around the northern Virginia and D.C. area, most recently for Penny Appeal USA, a multicultural non-governmental organization aimed at creating sustainable programs to help eradicate intergenerational policy. There, she helped to coordinate and promote some of the organization’s largest events.

Gdoura is an active member of the Mason community, including service as an undergraduate peer reviewer to help students develop research topics and edit completed research papers. Previously, Gdoura served as an events coordinator for the GMU Muslim Student Association and as a peer student success coach where she connected with incoming Mason students to help their transition to campus.

One of her favorite experiences at Mason continues to be International Week, when students celebrate culture and diversity through a number of events surrounding food, language, academic lectures, and entertainment. Last year, Gdoura represented her home country, Tunisia, in the North African Fashion Show on Africa Night.

“It was a new experience for me, and it was exciting to see everybody celebrating and being proud of their home countries of African origin.,” she said.

 Gdoura said her family always emphasized the importance of education.

“I owe a lot to my family for instilling the value of education and the principles needed to be a formidable student. I feel especially fortunate to have parents who support my career choice. They emphasized the principle of learning and not to just chase a high grade. This helped me have a mindset of being in class to learn rather than be there to fulfill a requirement. I believe this positive outlook allowed me to be excited for class, which in turn helped perform better academically. This principle was something that I passed down to my students in the Peer Student Success Coach program, it is important to reinstall the appreciation of learning that we’ve lost with a structure that is focused on grades. Good grades, no excellent grades, will come when they are enthusiastic and empowered to be in the classroom,” she said. When she learned that she was a recipient of the CHSS Dean’s Challenge Award, Gdoura said it meant a lot to her and her family. “I dedicate this award to my parents who have supported all of my hard work.”

Dr. Jason Dunick, Director of the Undergraduate Economics program said “I have known Fatma since 2016 and in that time, she has shown herself to be a truly outstanding student with a rare combination of strong analytical skills, a clear purpose for her future, and a high-level of productive curiosity.”

The Dean's Challenge was established in 2007 to acknowledge exceptional undergraduate and graduate students who have excelled while making academically challenging choices. The recipients of this award receive a stipend, funded by generous donations from friends of the college, to help with their educational expenses.