Commencement 2005: Early Identification Program Graduate Earns Senior of the Year Distinction

Posted: May 17, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

On Saturday, May 21, George Mason will hold its 38th annual Commencement at 10 a.m. in the Patriot Center. This week, the Daily Mason Gazette highlights a few of the university’s many outstanding graduates.

By Lori Jennings

Rysheda McClendon, the first in her family to earn a college degree, will graduate from George Mason on May 21 with honors, winning the Senior of the Year title through hard work, a can-do attitude, and the support of the university’s Early Identification Program (EIP).

McClendon is receiving a bachelor of arts in interdisciplinary studies with a concentration in legal studies. In her four short years at Mason, she has been involved with the Honor Committee, Residence Life Department, and EIP. In addition to Senior of the Year, she has been honored for her excellence in leadership and academics through the following awards: Most Spirited Resident Advisor, National Dean’s List, and Office of Diversity Programs and Service Vision Leadership Award.

McClendon credits the EIP program, which serves as a mentoring service for selected middle school children for whom college is unlikely, with exposing her to new ideas and helping to get her more involved with schoolwork.

McClendon’s middle school guidance counselor nominated her to join the EIP program in eighth grade. She applied, was accepted, and participated in the EIP summer academy and tutoring program for four years, beginning the summer before ninth grade.

“I was very shy when I first entered the program,” McClendon says. “But after getting involved, I found that the experience really opened me up.” The EIP program staff helped McClendon fill out her college application and financial forms and gave her advice on what to expect.

At Mason, McClendon continued to take advantage of the resources provided by the EIP program. “There’s a real fellowship between the EIP students at Mason,” she said. “We would meet in the lounge regularly. We really became a family.”

With graduation nearing, McClendon’s goal is to continue her education. This summer she will work as a conference assistant on Mason’s Prince William Campus. She also hopes to get certified in sign language over the next year and continue her involvement with the EIP program by tutoring students. After she receives her sign language certification, she plans to apply to law school on the East Coast.

Her advice to those just starting? “Take advantage of your resources,” she says. “The staff is here to help. There’s no reason to go it alone.”

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