Dominique Dowling is Mason’s 2022 Senior of the Year

woman in gold shirt
Dominique Dowling. Photo provided

When asked about her career goals, George Mason University senior Dominique Dowling was clear about her aspirations: She wants to one day be the U.S. secretary of education.

To move toward that goal, she plans to become an elementary school teacher and eventually work in school administration.

Dowling is graduating from Mason this May with a bachelor of arts degree in integrative studies, with a concentration in liberal arts for the teaching profession and a minor in social justice. She is also enrolled in one of Mason’s Accelerated Master’s Programs and is pursuing a master’s degree in Early Childhood Education for Diverse Learners.

“I want to implement anti-racist and social justice components into my teaching,” the Richmond, Virginia, native said. “Through administrative roles, I want help other teachers to also implement those principles so that young people don't have to wait until they get the opportunity to take a college course on identity to become aware of inequities.”

It is her passion to advocate for young minds both inside and outside the classroom that led Mason’s Alumni Association to name Dowling the 2022 Senior of the Year.

During her four years at Mason, Dowling has demonstrated exceptional leadership skills and has been involved in numerous campus organizations, including serving on two committees for Mason President Gregory Washington’s Anti-Racism and Inclusive Excellence Task Force. She said she was excited to be involved with the task force because she believes students are often left out of the conversation.

“Many times our voices are not heard due to the lack of representation or the simple fact that one student can't express the concerns of more than 30,000 students,” said Dowling of her work on the task force. “I felt like this was my opportunity to elevate the voices and grievances that many students have.”

In the summer of 2021, Dominique also had the honor of representing Mason on a larger scale as one of the 25 students selected from across the Commonwealth of Virginia to be part of the 2021 Virginia Governor’s Fellows Program.

During what she calls “the best experience I’ve ever had,” Dowling worked with then-Secretary of Education and Mason alum Atif Qarni, who was the first educator appointed to the Virginia governor’s cabinet straight out of a K-12 classroom.

Dowling also has served as a student senator within Mason’s Student Government and as a student representative on former President Ángel Cabrera’s Community Policing Council. She currently serves as president of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences Ambassadors, secretary of the Mason chapter of Educators Rising, and the Education Committee lead for the Virginia State Conference Youth and College Division of the NAACP.

Dowling considers her work with the Mason Chapter of the NAACP the high point of her time at the university. She helped revitalize the chapter, bringing it into national compliance, and has held the offices of chapter president and vice president over the years.

“I love being involved,” Dowling said. “I love being able to help create some kind of change. It is amazing to look at the organization now and see how much it has grown.”

She also believes working with the NAACP chapter helped her become a better leader.

“Being part of the NAACP has exposed me to different initiatives and people who have been doing this work for years,” Dowling said. “It made me realize that anti-racism work requires an ongoing dedication because there is always work to be done.”