This Senior of the Year found ‘true community’ at George Mason


Senior of the Year Celine Apenteng has made an impact during her time at George Mason University, and she isn’t done. After graduating this spring with a bachelor’s degree in conflict analysis and resolution with a concentration in global engagement, and minor in intelligence studies, the Silver Spring, Maryland, native will continue to pursue her master’s degree in international security at the Schar School of Policy and Government through the university’s accelerated master’s program.

Celine Apenteng with cherry blossoms and river view
Senior of the Year Celine Apenteng. Photo provided

Senior of the Year is awarded annually by the George Mason Alumni Association. In nominating Apenteng, her academic advisors at the Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution—Isaac Jasper, Jane Walker, Averi Jordan—wrote: “From her academic to her professional success, Celine has shown she is leaving the university as an ambassador of the best George Mason has to offer.”

Throughout her college career, Apenteng, who is a member of the Honors College, was active in Student Government, serving as Student Body Vice President in 2022-23 and as Speaker of the Student Senate. She also was a member of President Gregory Washington's Student Advisory Board and co-chair of the Student Advisory Council for the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.

Outside of the classroom, Apenteng held several internships that she said helped shape her as a person and a professional. She interned at the White House in the Office of Public Engagement and U.S. Department of State.

She also started out as an intern at the Carter School’s John Mitchell Jr. Program for History, Justice, and Race, which focuses on promoting a more informed public, political, and academic dialogue on the intersections between historical memory, justice, and racial reconciliation. She continues her work with the program as a fellow, documenting the impact of lynching incidents on African American communities and conducting historical archiving to preserve evidence of racial terror. 

How have you grown while at George Mason? 

Mason has helped me create a life of collaborative relationships instead of competitive ones. When I look for friendships, workspaces, and all other types of connections, I find myself gravitating toward people who want the same, a life filled with supportive people, doing their best, whatever that looks like, and wanting the best for the people around them. I can’t say that wanting that has changed since coming to Mason, but my efforts to seek it out certainly have.

Celine Apenteng with Dean Alp at Carter School Degree Celebration
Senior of the Year Celine Apenteng with Carter School Dean Alpaslan Özerdem. Photo by Evan Cantwell/Office of University Branding

How did your internships affect your career path?

[The internships] have all offered me different perspectives on what progress looks like for the world. Without a doubt, I can say that the key players are the local leaders we see every day who help us when no one is looking. As people look for opportunities, solutions, and answers, don’t overlook what your local or regional efforts can do for the people you know and the people you don’t.

What’s your best memory at George Mason? 

During my junior year, I was Student Body vice president. Although the entire year is filled with great memories, one that sticks out the most is the fall farmer's market. So many people had come out to support the local vendors we had brought to campus, Student Government members were out in full force, and we were all having a great time. We danced to music, played games, and of course ate really good food. Seeing everyone out just happy to be in that environment made me really happy, and I hope that event continues with the same excitement that made so many people feel the presence of true community at Mason.

What is your best piece of advice for incoming students? 

You are on time. If you think you’re behind, you're not. There’s no science to living life and college is just one chapter of a (hopefully) very long book! It can be easy to feel like everything is passing you by, but just think back to high school and where you thought you’d be now. Your hopes will change, your dreams will change, and you will change. And that’s all just a part of the process of being alive. So don’t stress about what you can’t control and enjoy what you can.