Student Commencement speaker Zayd Hamid learned how to lead through his many roles at George Mason


During Zayd Hamid’s first internship the summer before he came to George Mason University, he worked at Manassas Park City Hall and learned about local government. One day, the assistant city manager took him to check in on their vaccine clinics. George Mason was running those clinics, providing free vaccines in the middle of a global pandemic to communities in need.

Zayd Hamid on campus
Student Commencement Speaker Zayd Hamid. Photo by Ron Aira/Office of University Branding

“After I saw [George Mason] health workers serving my community, it just locked in that choice,” said Hamid.

After seeing George Mason in action at his community center as an instrument of social and economic mobility, Hamid recognized that the university had the same qualities that he loved about Manassas Park High School. He knew he had made the right choice to enroll as a public administration major. Now, as he graduates in May, he’ll share his story as the student speaker at Spring Commencement 2024 on May 9.

As a first-generation Guyanese American student, Hamid has found his calling in empowering his generation of student leaders with the education and experience they need to solve the world’s grand challenges.

“The best way to describe my journey at George Mason would be evolving leadership and being in those spaces where I could represent my fellow students helped shaped me into the leader I am now,” said Hamid, who is also a member of the Honors College

He has been recognized at the state and national levels for his work supporting higher education funding and following graduation, he will continue that work through George Mason’s master of public policy program.

Hamid put himself through college, working through the federal work-study program for over two-and-a-half years at George Mason Recreation. In Spring 2023, he represented George Mason students on a panel with the Association for Public Land Grant Universities speaking to congressional staff about the importance of the federal work-study program that he benefited from. Through the Schar School of Policy and Government, Hamid attended the U.S. Congress panel on education affordability.

“My story is built on the foundation of everyone who’s supported me—family, friends—and a lot of that support system as an adult has also been from George Mason. I have so much support from faculty and members of the administration,” said Hamid.

During his time as an undergraduate, Hamid also took a leading role in Mason Lobbies, an annual event in which Student Government brings students down to the state capitol in Richmond to lobby state legislators for legislative items that impact Mason and its students.

This year, Hamid helped bring more than 70 students to meet with more than 30 offices in the Virginia General Assembly. He led a student team speaking to State Senator Danica Roem, who represents the Science and Technology Campus, and Delegate Will Morefield.

Roem, who is also Zayd’s hometown representative in the General Assembly, is one of his long-time role models. Hamid met Roem for the first time in his high school senior class council.

“We realized that we had no idea how to represent people or lead as students, so we called our representative and arranged a meeting and she made a really tangible impression on me,” said Hamid. “I spent a lot of my time in student government trying to live up to that model of leadership.”

In 2023, Hamid was the first-ever recipient of Student Advocate of the Year from the National Institute for Lobbying and Ethics (NILE). Hamid was approached by top lobbyist and George Mason alum Bill McCabe of K9s for Warriors, who studied government and international politics at Mason and got his master’s in public policy as Hamid plans to do. Hamid sees McCabe as a successful George Mason alum in his industry and as someone whose level he strives to reach.

“Seeing McCabe go from doing Mason Lobbies at a student level to being an award-winning lobbyist was incredible,” said Hamid. “It’s great to see someone in my industry get to those heights. The George Mason degrees paved the way for him.”

"It's always great to meet students who are interested in pursuing policy and government affairs as their career after graduation,” McCabe said. “When I first met Zayd at NILE's Top Lobbyist Reception, I could instantly see his passion for the profession. His hunger to learn and develop as an advocate will serve him well whether it's at the federal, state, or local levels of government. I'm confident Zayd will thrive in whichever industry he chooses to pursue.”