Mason Lighting the Way
Spotlights from the Task Force
More than 130 faculty, staff and students are working on George Mason University’s Anti-Racism and Inclusive Excellence Task Force, which is taking a hard look at the current state of diversity and inclusivity efforts at the university and making recommendations for the future.
These individuals come from across our campuses and bring their different skill sets and expertise to this work. In this series, we will spotlight members of the task force and find out what drives them.
Junior, Government and International Politics and Conflict Analysis and Resolution Majors
Committee: Training and Development
Junior Natalia Kanos, who comes from Jos, Nigeria, chose George Mason University because of its proximity to Washington, D.C., and her interest in government.
“I was always fascinated by D.C. and knew there were great opportunities here to get experience in my field,” Kanos said.
One of those opportunities has been involving herself in Mason’s Student Government, where she was speaker pro tempore and now holds the highest office. In April, Kanos was elected Mason’s new student body president. Her running mate and vice president is government and international politics major Veronica Mata.
In a way, she is following a family tradition. Her brother, David, is a Mason alumnus who graduated in 2018 and also served as student body president. In fact, he was the first international student elected to the office. He is also one of the reasons she came to Mason.
Kanos has also worked a research assistant at the Mary Hoch Center for Reconciliation in the Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution, where she participated in research on the truth commissions.
“I also did research on religious groups’ responses to COVID-19 around the world and how a government’s partnership with religious groups while making Covid guidelines affected the cooperation of citizens,” she said.
Kanos wanted to serve on the Anti-Racism and Inclusive Excellence Task Force because she saw room for improvements at Mason.
“I love the diversity of Mason but saw a huge lacking when it came to inclusion,” she said. “College is supposed to be a place where you are able to express yourself and find yourself. I wanted everybody to be able to feel comfortable in their space.”
Working on the Training and Development Committee also helped her pursue her personal and professional goals.
“[The work] has really allowed me to find my voice and become a true advocate,” she said. “I have also gained a lot of knowledge on [diversity, equity and inclusion] from the other members of the committee.”
She adds: “It was nice to know that others are seeing the issues I see and want to do something about it, especially students.”
While Kanos isn’t sure what her career goals are, she does want to work in government in some capacity and do international work.
“I would like to work in Africa and help advise leaders,” said Kanos, who hasn’t been home to Nigeria because of the coronavirus. “I would love to work with the United Nations too.”