GIA Scholars

Congratulations to Mason's Graduate Inclusion and Access (GIA) Scholars!

Rafael E. Hernández Dubon

Rafael Hernández Dubon
Rafael Hernández Dubon

Rafael is a Ph.D. student in the clinical psychology program at Mason. He earned a dual B.S. (2019) from Virginia Commonwealth University in psychology with a concentration in addiction studies, and philosophy with a concentration in philosophy and science. Previous to Mason, he worked as a research assistant in projects focused on culturally enhancing substance use interventions for Latinx adolescents and young adults. He is interested in Latinx community oriented research, and the impact of sociocultural-spiritual factors in the development or buffering of psychopathology. He is also interested in culturally enhancing construct measurement, assessment, and interventions. He enjoys hiking, biking, and spending time with family.

Timmia King

Timmia was born in Texas and is from a military family. She got a BA in African American Studies from Howard University and a dual master from Indiana University-Bloomington in Library Science and African American and Diaspora Studies. Previous work experience includes an ARL Fellowship for Digital and Inclusive Excellence, Graduate Assistantship at Indiana University Bloomington and a Health Equity Fellow at the University of Missouri Kansas City. 

Timmia boasts a host of accolades including African American and African Diaspora department award for Best Graduate/Grader and the Alain Locke Award Recipient 2015. Her professional goals are to place herself in positions where she can promote access to information as a way to advocate for equality and justice and to give people the power to tell their own histories. 

On her off time she enjoys letting the creative juices flow by engaging in different artistic hobbies & is currently trying to an herb garden. She is excited to be back in the DMV area and a part of the History Department at George Mason.

Jehad Halawani

Jehad Halawani
Jehad Halawani

Jehad Halawani is a first-year doctoral student at GMU specializing in Learning Technologies Design Research (LTDR) with a focus on international educational settings. She is the presidential scholar at CEHD and works as a GRA for the Center of International Education at Mason. Jehad earned her B.S in Physics and Electronics from Birzeit University, Palestine, and her MA.Ed. from George Mason University in Curriculum and Instructions (Secondary science education). Jehad’s current research interests include Self-Directed Learning in K-12 and Mixed Reality applications in STEM classes. Jehad entered the program with ten years of experience as a Physics teacher, a STEM coordinator, and a dean of students at public and private schools in the Middle East and the US.

Gifty A. Mensah

Gifty A. Mensah
Gifty A. Mensah

Gifty Mensah is a first-generation college student. She earned her Master’s degree in Biology with a concentration in Microbiology & Infectious Diseases at George Mason University. Prior to her admission into the PhD program, she interned at Inova Fairfax Hospital and worked at Quest Diagnostics where she got her first exposure to clinical laboratory functions and developed a keen interest in the field.

Gifty is currently a second-year PhD student in the Biosciences program and a Graduate Teaching Assistant in the undergraduate Microbiology department. She works in the molecular virology lab of Dr. F. Kashanchi. Her research focus is on the role extracellular vesicles play in viral infections such as HIV-11,2,4 and HTLV-13,5. Her research aim is to discover more effective therapeutics that can mitigate the devastating effects of these viral infections.  During her time in the Biosciences program, she has participated in the publication of five peer-reviewed scientific articles, two of them co-first authored. She has presented her research at local and educational meetings including Mason’s School of Systems Biology Research Day and Graduate Interdisciplinary conferences; as well as national conferences such as the Extracellular Vesicles and Infections conference and the American Society for Exosomes and Microvesicles annual meeting. She is currently focusing on understanding the role of exosomes and how they affect diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s in relation to infections.

May Santiago

May Santiago
May Santiago

May is a first-year PhD student and a film scholar. Her work focuses on using cinema as a cultural studies tool for colonized film economies in the Caribbean with a focus on Puerto Rico. She possesses a BFA, producing Little Girls (2013) as her undergraduate thesis film as part of a study of teen films and the effect they have on female teen societies. She also possesses an MFA where she created Nightgaze (2017), a “visual album” based on music video theory to depict a young woman’s visceral experience with depression. Her work has screened across the country, including the Brooklyn Women’s Film Festival, Tampa Bay Comic Con, Florida’s Undergraduate Research Conference, Orlando Film Festival, and more.

May currently runs a foreign-horror based podcast she hosts and writes, Horrorspiria. She is currently contributing to an anthology on queer horror studies through Texas University Press and has a piece in Film Criticism coming out in early 2022. 

Dwayne Smith

After an 11-year career in the Marine Corps, Dwayne Smith, a New Jersey native, is a PhD student in Computational Social Science studying the affects of multi-modal reentry programs on formerly-incarcerated populations and predicting parole decision outcomes using agent-based modeling (ABM). Dwayne is a father of two boys, pilot, outdoor enthusiast, and Brazilian jiu jitsu athlete.