Annual Scholarship Dinner recognizes donors and students in an evening of gratitude


“If I was able to meet the people who had given me the scholarship I received? For starters, I would give them a big hug!” 

The enthusiasm of George Mason University student Dean Johnson, integrative studies major and recipient of the Howard Book Fund Scholarship, brought smiles to faces throughout the dining room of the International Country Club in Fairfax. Johnson’s and two other George Mason scholarship recipients’ experiences were featured as a video finale for an evening where many scholarship recipients were able offer thanks—in person—to the individuals who had made their scholarships possible.

George Mason’s Scholarship Dinner brings together the generous individuals who have given to student scholarships with some of the amazing students who have received scholarship support.

“You can tell an event is important based on who shows up,” said George Mason President Gregory Washington. “I’ve counted seven deans here!”

Students, donors, and Mason staff enjoyed an evening of gratitude, with 200 guests in attendance to hear students’ stories of impact.

More than 1,100 scholarships have been awarded in FY 24, totaling more than $3.5 million.

A student speak with a dean at GMU's Annual Scholarship Dinner at the dinner
Business Rakibul Alam spoke about his George Mason experience at the event. Photo by Sean Kelley Photography

"This evening represents the power of philanthropy coming to life,” said Trishana E. Bowden, George Mason University Foundation president and George Mason’s vice president for advancement and alumni relations. “Your generosity gives students a chance—a chance to learn, a chance to challenge themselves academically, a chance to lead, and an opportunity to immerse themselves in the multitude of perspectives that they see in their peers. Through scholarship support, you bring promising students to the arena, allowing them to grow and advance beyond their own perceived limits.”

Several students spoke to the group about the impact that scholarships had had in their lives. “Receiving scholarship support has not only eased the financial burden of pursuing my degree, but has inspired me to strive for academic excellence and allowed me to actively contribute to student life,” said Rakibul Alam, a business major who is a recipient of the Shrivastava Diversity and Inclusion Scholarship. Alam is an Honors College professional development fellow, part of George Mason’s Student Government, and is a Costello College of Business student ambassador. “I take on these extracurricular opportunities because I believe that I have a responsibility to give back to a place that has already given me so much.”

scholarship recipients pose at dinner
Several students spoke to the group about the impact that the scholarships had had in their lives. Photo by Sean Kelly Photography

Sumeet Shrivastava, MBA ‘94, hosted the evening’s events. Shrivastava is a leader in the government IT industry and a committed alum, board member, donor, and volunteer for the Costello College of Business and George Mason University. His family’s generosity to Mason has made it possible for many students to realize their academic goals.

Shrivastava related the circumstances of his father’s engineering education, which began in India and continued with his master’s degree at the University of North Carolina—a step that was catalyzed through a scholarship. “That scholarship didn’t just fund his education,” said Shrivastava, “it forged connections that would shape the course of his life. Through his studies, he met mentors who believed in his potential, peers who shared his ambitions, and a network of support that pushed him forward.”

Describing his own philanthropy as “an opportunity to be the bridge for someone else’s journey,” Shrivastava encouraged the attendees to forge connections and be the architects of change.

Bowden, too, confirmed the impact of the scholarship she had received during college. “The message behind this act was truly compelling: to realize that someone I had never met believed in what I could achieve. It gave me confidence in my own abilities and potential. You could even say that it inspired my life’s work: bringing such opportunities to other students.”

And she shared a special message with the George Mason students gathered. “Please know how proud we are of you,” she said. “We know how hard you are working and are delighted to be part of your story.”