For more than 30 years, the George Mason University Alumni Association has honored outstanding alumni, faculty members, and students at their annual Celebration of Distinction. This year’s celebration was held Friday, October 21. The 2022 awardees include a diverse group of Patriots who exemplify service to others.
Alumnus of the Year David J. Freedman, BA Philosophy ’98, is a partner with the Pennsylvania law firm Barley Snyder LLP, where his practice focuses on employment litigation and higher education and immigration law. He has received numerous accolades, especially for his extensive pro bono work. The Central Penn Business Journal recognized Freedman as one of the 30 most influential legal professionals in central Pennsylvania and awarded him the Legal Excellence Award for pro bono service. The Pennsylvania Immigration Resource Center has awarded Freedman its Pro Bono Attorney of the Year Award three times, most recently in 2021.
Victoria N. Salmon, DA Education (Community College) ’97, received the Alumni Service Award. She is associate dean emerita for graduate studies in Mason’s College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA). In 2007, Salmon established the CVPA Office of Graduate Studies, which added seven new graduate degrees in the college in seven years. When she retired in 2014, CVPA established the Victoria N. Salmon Outstanding Graduate Student Award in her honor. Salmon continues to serve the university as chair of the Arts at Mason Board and as an adjunct faculty member in the Arts Management Program.
Raquel Gonzalez, BA Integrative Studies ’07, MS Conflict Analysis and Resolution ’12, received the Graduate of the Last Decade (G.O.L.D.) Award. They are a first-generation college graduate and public servant dedicated to uplifting marginalized communities. Prior to their current work in government leadership training and inclusivity efforts, they spent four years in New York state government, leading operations, policy, and diversity and inclusion initiatives. They were named a 40 Under 40 Rising Latino Star by the Hispanic Coalition of New York in 2018. Previously, Gonzalez was a presidential appointee in four federal agencies and at the White House during the Obama administration.
Faculty Member of the Year Wendi Manuel-Scott is a professor of integrative studies and history and an affiliate faculty member in the Women and Gender Studies Program, African and African American Studies Program, and the Carter School’s John Mitchell Jr. Program for History, Justice, and Race. Manuel-Scott was integral to the Enslaved Children of George Mason project, which led to the creation of the Enslaved People of George Mason Memorial on Wilkins Plaza. She is the co-chair of Mason’s Anti-Racism and Inclusive Excellence Task Force.
Senior of the Year Dominique Dowling, BA Integrative Studies ’22, is currently pursuing a master’s in early childhood education for diverse learners at Mason. She has served in several leadership roles on and off campus, including as president of the Mason chapter of the NAACP and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences Ambassadors and as student representative on university committees, such as the Anti-Racism and Inclusive Excellence Task Force. In 2021 Dowling selected to be part of the 2021 Virginia Governor’s Fellows Program and worked for then Virginia Secretary of Education Atif Qarni, MA History ’09.