She honed her research and counseling skills at Mason


Senior McKenzie Lauber has been involved research since her freshman year at George Mason University. A member of the Honors College, she has worked in the College of Public Health’s Social Work Integrative Research Lab, where she has taken on many roles from interviewing study participants to analyzing data as part of the StrongerMemory project.

Social Work student McKenzie Lauber poses in Peterson Hall. Photo by Cristian Torres.
Social Work student McKenzie Lauber poses in Peterson Hall. Photo by Cristian Torres.

Lauber is graduating from George Mason University this month with a bachelor of social work degree and a minor in criminology.  

When not in class, this Honors College student has gained real-world social work experience through an internship at Gateway Homes, a nonprofit group home for people diagnosed with severe mental illness, where she conducts daily interventions and runs a group based on coping mechanisms.

She also acted as the external director for Mason Miracle Dance Marathon from August 2021 to May 2022, which included fundraising for Children's National Hospital and engaging the local community. She also spent a little over a year as a virtual reading tutor for 10 to 15 students a week in Baltimore City Public Schools. 

What are you most proud of regarding your time at Mason? 

I am most proud of being a published co-author on an article about student satisfaction with mentoring opportunities in the Journal of Social Work Education. That was a really monumental moment for me; it allowed me to see the impact I could have through the research I’ve been a part of here at Mason.  

How have you surprised yourself at Mason? 

I always used to think of myself as studious and not much else, but coming to Mason really expanded my interests and what I thought as possible for myself. While at Mason, I’ve been a part of multiple student groups. I worked in the Social Work Integrative Research Lab for all of my undergrad years, which is a very rare feat. I’m surprised how much I’ve grown over the past four years. I think most importantly I’ve become more confident in my work and my abilities as a budding social worker.  

What resources/opportunities did you find at Mason that you don't think you'd be able to find anywhere else? 

I don’t think I would have been able to find as many career-building opportunities as I got at Mason anywhere else. Having taken advantage of being able to do research all through undergrad, I can confidently say it has helped me both academically and professionally so much. Mason also has many resources and events for professional growth, which have been extremely helpful to me, exposing me to jobs and career paths that I would have never imagined for myself.

What have you learned outside the classroom? 

I have learned so much here at Mason beyond the classroom, specifically from my peers within the Department of Social Work. Everyone that I’ve met in my cohort has so much to offer to our field, and I cannot wait to see what everyone does. We all come from different backgrounds and life experiences, so it’s been really great to be able to hear everyone’s perspectives and learn from each other.  

I’ve also learned a lot from my internship at Gateway Homes, which gave me real-world social work experience that allowed me to take what I had learned in my classes out into the field. Completing that internship showed how everything I’ve been taught at Mason fits into the work I will be doing once I graduate. 

What impactful professor(s) did you get to work alongside? 

I have been fortunate to work alongside so many amazing professors in the Social Work Department, including Emily Ihara and Catherine Tompkins. I have a lot of special memories with each of them, but I think that their confidence in me and my work is honestly what I am the most grateful for. They have given me the opportunity to do things in research that I didn’t even know I was capable of myself. Their support and mentorship have meant the world to me.  

What’s next for you?  

I got accepted into the Advanced Standing Social Work Program here at Mason, and I am happy to say that I will be coming back here to earn my master's degree and hopefully continue my research work as well.