Life is much more than time spent on the clock. In this series, we highlight the unique hobbies and volunteer activities of Mason's talented faculty and staff.
As employer engagement consultant with University Career Services at George Mason University, Jneva Norfleet connects organizations with qualified talent from Mason, helping Mason students and graduates achieve their career goals.
Outside work, Norfleet hones other talents of her own—she is a Toastmasters champion and a spoken word artist who shares her poetry to inspire others.
George Mason Toastmasters is part of a worldwide network of clubs that help members practice public speaking and leadership skills. Norfleet, a first-year Toastmaster, competed in multiple competitions and advanced to the Region 7 International Speech Contest in June. Though Norfleet did not advance to the world championship, she made an impact and represented her club with her speech, “If You Can Declare It, Then You Can Achieve It.”
What brought you to Mason? Once you were here, how did you decide to join George Mason Toastmasters?
I came to Mason in October 2022 to work with University Career Services. I heard about George Mason Toastmasters from my colleague, and I immediately wanted to join. I’m an ordained minister and have been preaching at churches throughout the East Coast since 2018. I’m also a spoken word artist and perform my poetry for community organizations and events. Since I had prior experience with public speaking, I knew Toastmasters would be the perfect opportunity for me to hone my public speaking skills.
What took you down the path to spoken word art, and what do you speak about?
I began to write spoken word poetry at the age of 16; however, I stopped to focus on other hobbies. I started writing again in 2020 at the height of the pandemic. Most of my poetry is Christian content and addresses overcoming challenges through faith in Jesus Christ. I knew 2020 was a rough year mentally for many people, myself included, so I wanted my poetry to encourage those who were battling depression and other forms of mental illness. After posting one of my poems on social media, the post received a lot of positive attention and many people were encouraged by my work. It was in that moment that I realized spoken word poetry was a gift of mine, and I continued to do it.
How does spoken word art intersect with the type of public speaking you do for Toastmasters?
Spoken word art intersects with my public speaking for Toastmasters because I have the ability to express myself through speeches similar to the way I would in poetry. I generally gear a lot of my Toastmasters speeches toward overcoming challenges and inspiring people to keep going, because greatness is within them. My speeches give me a chance to be a blessing to others outside of my poetry.
You’re pursuing a PhD in higher education at Mason. What pushed you to continue your education?
I first desired to continue my education because I wanted to be the first member of my immediate family to obtain an accredited doctoral degree. That desire amplified when I started my career last year in higher education. I developed a love for this field. To accomplish my career goals, I continued my education by working toward my PhD.
How has being involved with Toastmasters impacted your overall experience working at Mason?
I developed a Mason family through George Mason Toastmasters. My Toastmasters club members continue to cheer me on in my speeches and were a huge support system for me throughout my contest journey. This club has been a tremendous blessing to me and has impacted my overall experience working at Mason, because it showed me that you can develop family outside of your home environment.
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