Meet Sophia and Celine
Mason’s new student body president Sophia Nguyen and vice president Celine Apenteng will be doing an Instagram Live for 30 minutes on Monday, August 29, 2022 at 2 p.m. ET on the George Mason University Instagram channel.
For Sophia Nguyen and Celine Apenteng, George Mason University’s new student body president and vice president, respectively, accountability to their fellow students is paramount.
So much so that on the webpage that displays their platform, there is a contact box through which they can be reached directly. And in a recent conversation about their administration, there was this invitation:
“We are here for you, we will listen to you, we will work with you firsthand,” Nguyen said. “If you want to sit down and have coffee or meet at the Johnson Center, just let me know.”
That kind of outreach is the norm for Nguyen, a senior majoring in government and international politics and minoring in global affairs, and Apenteng, a junior majoring in conflict analysis and resolution with minors in intelligence studies and data analysis.
In fact, when they posted their platform, they did it in seven languages: English, Arabic, French, German, Korean, Russian, and Spanish, to reach as many students as possible.
“One part of our platform is to translate our syllabi into multiple languages, so our friend said, ‘You should translate your platform,’” Nguyen said. “We have a diverse group of friends, so we asked them what languages they know how to speak and write.”
In exchange for lunch or coffee, Nguyen and Apenteng got their translations.
“This was such a smart idea,” said Lauren Kaplan, Mason’s Student Government advisor. “Sharing their student government platform in seven languages underscored the inclusiveness of our diverse student body. I thought it was so unique and clever. A smart initiative to appeal to every student here on campus.”
Nguyen, from Chesapeake, Virginia, and Apenteng, from Silver Spring, Maryland, are members of Mason’s Honors College and are experienced Student Government participants. Both were senators and worked extensively with the Government and Community Relations committee of which Apenteng, a University Scholar, was chair. She was also speaker of the Senate.
Nguyen, whose brother, Anthony is a Mason alumnus (BS mechanical engineering ’18), was chair of the University Life and the Diversity and Multicultural Affairs committees. She also just finished a summer internship at the White House, working to eliminate hate against Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.
Apenteng over the summer traveled to Switzerland, France, Belgium, and Luxembourg with Mason’s International Security Studies Program through the Global Education Office.
Fast friends, they complement each other’s personalities.
“She’s my accountability person,” Nguyen said of Apenteng. “She helps my flaws because my flaws are being a little too shy when it comes to saying my feelings. I’m, like, ‘Wait, Plan D, what should I do?’ She’s like ‘no, stop,’ so that’s her.”
Their platform is extensive and includes working with Mason Dining to ensure all students have food options that fit their dietary or religious guidelines, and with the Office of Sustainability to decrease the amount of disposable plastic material on campus.
They also want to create a Title IX student advisory group and revive the “Coffee with Cops” program in which students talk about issues with Mason police.
Both Nguyen and Apenteng said they have benefited from their Mason experience.
“I really like the atmosphere on campus,” Apenteng said. “I don’t find it to be very competitive. It’s much more collaborative. It’s great to be able to work in that kind of environment so people know they can have input and be part of something.”
And speaking of input, “if there’s a problem that impacts you as a student, it impacts us as student leaders,” Apenteng said. “If we don’t know about it, it’s a problem for us, so come talk to us, let us know. At the end of the day, that’s our job—to support you.”
That’s a language anyone can understand.