Mason gave her the world, now she’s ready to make a difference

Nicole Herman
Nicole Herman. Photo provided

Nicole Herman said George Mason University made the world her campus.

“[My undergraduate experience] is literally priceless,” the graduating senior in the Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution said. “I feel so lucky that I got to study in Nepal, and Israel and Oxford.”

As a sophomore, Herman was selected to go on Mason Hillel’s Fact Finders trip, which takes students to Israel and Palestine to learn about the conflict. Herman said that inspired her career focus in defense policy and security analysis.

“I could not believe I was on the ground learning about such a complex conflict while most people do not get to see why foreign policy decisions are important, or [understand] why protecting and advancing relations are so consequential to human lives,” Herman said. “It made me realize I want to be in a room someday that makes policy decisions that matter.”

Originally from Georgia, Herman said a family friend encouraged her to apply to Mason. When she was accepted into the Honors College with a scholarship, her decision was made.

Following her trip to the Middle East, Herman said she studied criminal psychology of terrorism and international human rights during a semester at Oxford, followed by a trip to Nepal.

“Having such an invaluable undergraduate degree that has taught me to challenge the way I see the world, and approach intricate issues that don’t have one ideal answer, has given me the opportunity to pursue this dream,” said Herman, who will be attending George Washington University in the fall for a master’s in security policy studies. “Mason gives you the opportunity to go out into the world and really made a difference.”

Beyond her experiences abroad, Herman said she is working as a program assistant with the United Nations Association within their global education branch, where she helped plan the first virtual Model United Nations conference with the U.S. State Department. She has also interned with Fairfax County Government and on Capitol Hill supporting Georgia Rep. Andrew Clyde. On campus, she has served as undersecretary of University Life and is a member of Alpha Phi.

The connections Herman made in class allowed her to learn about many of these opportunities, she said. She also said she appreciated professors like Tehama Lopez Bunaysi, who taught students how to think from critical perspectives.

“The Carter School really opens your eyes and makes you feel like you’re a part of something and that you can actually change something,” Herman said. “I love how they approached all topics with compassion and deep questioning to make sure we analyze every single aspect and try to see where the human is in everything.”

“I appreciate how [Nicole] builds a respectful and friendly rapport with her peers; she really demonstrates the kind of leadership that is needed for effective collaboration,” Bunyasi said. “I admire the way she meets the challenges placed before her.”