Focusing on families in need

Andersen Guske is a December 2020 George Mason University graduate
Andersen Guske says he is inspired by the idea of helping people struggling with mental health or other issues before they snowball out of control. Photo by Naomi Fort.

Andersen Guske has dedicated his time at George Mason University to learning about human dynamics and helping children and families.

A member of Mason’s Honors College, Guske graduates in December with a degree in human development and family science and a minor in American Sign Language. He hopes to use his education and the skills he’s developed to help individuals and families in need.

“I want to help people who are struggling with mental health or other issues before they snowball out of control,” Guske said. “When I think about doing that, it inspires me.”

Guske has already had an impact on families with his internship at Formed Families Forward, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting foster, kinship and adoptive families of children with disabilities and special needs.

Guske’s senior project involved developing tip sheets and family activities to help motor, cognitive, social and emotional growth during the pandemic. In addition, Guske helped create videos with advice for how families with students with special needs can engage their children’s schools during the pandemic.

“Andersen is a bright star, a leader among his peers, said Bethany Letiecq, associate professor of human development and family science in the College of Education and Human Development. “He is committed to valuing family diversity and advancing justice and human dignity in society.”

Guske has an identical twin sister and two older siblings.

“Growing up, I was the mediator between any struggles with my siblings,” Guske said. “I have practiced active listening skills my entire life.”

Guske almost ended up pursuing a career in music. In high school, he was in marching band, played a number of instruments and was part of a rock band. He originally went to Mason for music.

Said Guske: “I still care about music and sometimes write songs just for fun.”

In college, Guske came out as a transgender man. He said his family, and in particular his twin sister, has been very supportive.

“One day I was talking to her about how I was feeling, and she just said, ‘Well, do you want to be my brother?’” Guske said. “I just broke down and said yes. It was a defining moment.”

After graduation, Guske hopes to find employment with a nonprofit that works with marginalized groups, such as individuals with disabilities. He’s also “fairly certain” he will eventually pursue a graduate degree in social work.

“Social work seems like a good use of my skills and fulfilling work,” he said.