Maria Carabelli knew from a young age that she wanted to be a part of the George Mason University community.
She followed her older sister, who attended college at Mason, and has been here ever since, now helping to improve the lives of students, faculty and staff as the office manager for the Department of Communication within the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.
Carabelli, a Mason employee for nearly 20 years who was selected as the June Employee of the Month, said she enjoys what she does.
“I love that no day is ever the same, and there are new challenges and new experiences to work through,” she said. “I love that I get to meet so many people and learn about their cultures, lives and stories. I love that I get to help our students, staff and faculty and be a source of support to them all.”
Carabelli, who graduated from Mason in 2009 with a degree in Communication with a concentration in public relations, started off as a student in the Department of Communication and later as a wage employee at the campus police station. She was still in that role when the job of undergraduate program coordinator became available.
“It seemed like a great fit—I was right,” Carabelli said.
In her current role, she is the Communication Department’s office manager, HR manager and finance manager. She managed all that while helping to oversee a large group of faculty and staff and several departmental moves during a global pandemic.
As such, she is responsible for loads of critical paperwork needed for new hires, including overseeing the onboarding system, completing the necessary background checks and processing contracts.
The personal care Carabelli showed her colleagues went well beyond her job description. During the COVID-19 remote working environment, she doubled the department’s number of staff meetings and provided daily check-ins.
Anne M. Nicotera, chair of the Department of Communication, hailed Carabelli as “our department’s most valuable resource.”
“A lot of people at Mason are good at their jobs, but Maria Carabelli also stands out for her community-building work and attention to the interpersonal health of the department,” Nicotera said. “Many faculty call her the glue of the department.”
Carabelli said she takes great pride in the many roles in which she’s played for the department’s benefit.
“Knowing I can help people get through the challenges and stressful times—especially with finance and HR issues—is especially gratifying,” she said.
How she got to Mason:
I grew up in Burke, Virginia, and went to Lake Braddock High School. My sister attended GMU and in coming to visit her, I decided I wanted to be a part of the Mason community.
Best day on the job:
Winning the Mary Roper Award in 2016 was definitely a highlight of my time here at Mason in the Communication Department. [The award is given annually to honor a classified staff member who has shown outstanding service in support of the core goals of the college. The award is named for Mary Roper, who worked in the Department of Biology and in the dean’s office of the College of Arts and Sciences for a total of 14 years.] It afforded me the opportunity to thank all of the people who have had an influence on my career and those who have been such an amazing support system through good days and bad ones both in a professional and personal way.
What you like best about working at Mason:
Honestly, all the great people that I get to work with every day, some of whom have become really close friends of mine. And, knowing how I’ve been able to help so many students throughout the years in their journey at Mason in any way I can/could.
What you do when you are not working:
Spend time with my family, who live close by, and my husband and 7-year-old boy. We love to travel, take long drives in the country, work in the garden and just spend time together.