Meet Mason Students

Joyous Tharrington

Women's Shelter donations with Joy Tharrington

Women’s basketball player Joyous Tharrington was so inspired by her Women and Gender Studies class on domestic violence that she started a service project. With the help of her teammates, the sociology major began collecting toiletries as the team traveled during the semester to donate to a local women’s shelter. Several hotels even donated to her cause. At the end of the semester, Tharrington and her friends delivered the toiletries to the shelter.

Samantha Oester

samantha oester

Graduate student Samantha Oester says she took about 800 pictures on the first day of her study-abroad trip to Antarctica. The environmental science and policy major was part of a group of Mason students who traveled on and lived aboard the research vessel Ortelius, observing and sometimes aiding the research group Oceanities with their work surveying penguin populations.

Nathan Secrest

Nathan Secrest

Physics PhD student Nathan Secrest identified one of the lowest mass supermassive black holes ever observed in the middle of a galaxy. With the help of other researchers and NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, Secrest discovered the host galaxy of the black hole, called NGC 4178, located about 55 million light years from Earth. The research team used X-rays to find the black hole, as it would have been hidden from detection using common optical surveys.

Lana Zonjic

Keil Eggers, Mason Spirit feature story, "You've Come a Long Way, Baby."

Mason sophomore Lana Zonjic says there aren’t any college campuses in Croatia where she is from, so she had to rely on movies and what people said to learn about them. When she got to Mason where she plays on the women’s volleyball team, she says her coaches and teammates helped her adjust to college life quickly. At the end of her freshman season, she was named the Colonial Athletic Association’s Co-Rookie of the Year.

Keith Sullivan

Volgenau School’s Engineers Day

Mason PhD computer science student Keith Sullivan leads Mason’s robotics team, the RoboPatriots, who compete internationally each summer. Right now, Sullivan and the team are preparing to compete in the 2012 RoboCup in Mexico City, Mexico. The RoboPatriots compete in the kid-size humanoid league with robots that are 30 to 60 centimeters tall. The robots play (or try to play) soccer.

Sean O’Bannon


Civil and infrastructure engineering major Sean O’Bannon leads the student organization Engineering Students Without Borders. In the summer of 2011, O’Bannon and a group of engineering students, alumni, and faculty traveled to San Isidro, Peru, to help villagers there improve the water storage system of their small agricultural community.

Joseph Quarcoo

Joseph Quarcoo

Government and international politics major Joseph Quarcoo was a driving force behind Mason being designated a polling place by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. His fellow student leaders credit Quarcoo’s eloquent speech before the board as the moment that they garnered the support of the supervisors. Following the speech, the board unanimously approved the creation of the university precinct.

Danjing Shen

Danjing Shen

Finance major Danjing Shen is one of more than 70 Chinese students studying at Mason as part of the China 1+2+1 program. From China’s Jiangsu Province, she attends Soochow University when at home. Although she loves being in the United States, she isn’t crazy about American food. Shen and her fellow 1+2+1 participants ride the CUE Bus to Asian supermarkets in the area and then cook together in their dorm kitchens.