A moving experience adds to his Mason profile


Jalen Stubbs sat on stage at the recent Chronicle Ideas Festival in downtown Washington D.C., one of three students recording a “Future U” podcast about their college experiences.

One, a first-generation student, spoke about the challenges of finding the right school and struggling because English is not her first language. The other described the difficulties of attending college while raising a child.

Jalen Stubbs participated in a "Future U" podcast at the Chronicle Ideas Festival.
Mason senior Jalen Stubbs (center) at the Chronicle Ideas Festival with Mason Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, Janette Muir, and Philip Wilkerson from Mason's office of University Career Services. Photo provided. 

“It was such a moving experience,” said Stubbs, a senior communication major at George Mason University who hopes to go into sports broadcasting. “I’ve heard stories like that before, but they went deep into them. It really changed my perspective on not just school as a whole, but how it impacts students from various backgrounds.”

For Stubbs, the podcast and festival, put on by the Chronicle of Higher Education to discuss the ideas shaping higher ed, was another layer to the main reasons he came to Mason in the first place—the university’s diversity and the opportunity for experiences outside the classroom he had been encouraged to take.

Mason is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the most diverse institution in Virginia. In addition, there is no disparity in academic success rates among Mason students of different ethnic groups or socio-economic status.

“Diversity has always been an important element in my life. That’s what drew me to Mason,” Stubbs said. “It had the diversity in order for me to thrive. I knew it would be a good community to stand out in.”

Stubbs, of Rockville, Maryland, has certainly done that.

The managing editor of the Fourth Estate, Mason’s student-run news outlet, Stubbs has had several high-profile internships, including one with Capital Concerts where he was a production assistant for last summer’s “National Memorial Day Concert” and “A Capitol Fourth Concert.”

He is also active in the Black Male Success Initiative.

“I’m happy to be here at Mason doing what I’m doing,” Stubbs said. “It’s been a great experience.”

Which brings us back to the “Future U” podcast, for which Stubbs was nominated by Philip Wilkerson, an employee engagement consultant in Mason’s Office of University Career Services.

Wilkerson has known Stubbs since they met at a College of Humanities and Social Sciences event—the CHSS Mentorship Link-up—when Stubbs was a freshman.

“He’s one of those people who I told early on, ‘You have to get experiences outside the classroom,’ ” Wilkerson said. “He’s done that and more. I can’t say enough about his ambition and leadership. He’s just very driven and does what he needs to do.”

Stubbs said the podcast recording was a bit intimidating as the conversation had an audience of about 50 people and went out live on the Chronicle Festival website.

But once he settled in, he was fine and spoke freely about creating environments for success by seeking out those with similar interests, and leaving a legacy at Mason that other Black students can look to and build on.

It also was a great opportunity to network in preparation for his job search he hopes will land that sports broadcasting job.

“I just want to get into the business,” he said, “knocking on that back door.”