George Mason University’s School of Business is committed to the active-duty military service members and veterans who come to Mason to enhance their education. Located in the Washington, D.C., area, Mason offers many benefits to active-duty service members and veterans, many of whom choose to use the Post-9/11 GI Bill that provides them funding for tuition, required fees, books, and housing. The bill covers all tuition costs for an in-state public college. At a private institution, annual tuition is capped at a nationwide threshold. For many students taking advantage of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, the entire Mason degree program is fully funded.
Meet three recent graduates who have taken advantage of the Post-9/11 GI Bill as they share their reasons for attending Mason’s School of Business and their advice to others following in their footsteps.
MS Real Estate Development ’18
Veteran, U.S. Air Force
Asset Manager, General Services Administration
After six years as an active-duty enlisted member in the U.S. Air Force serving as an aircraft engine maintenance technician and a member of the regional USAF Honor Guard, Tyler Kasak sought out Mason’s MS in Real Estate Development Program. For Kasak, Mason offered the best value within the Washington, D.C., area and one of the best educations in the country.
“With most private schools in the area being very expensive, you can get close to hitting the GI Bill threshold in one fulltime semester of grad school. At Mason, the entire degree program was covered.
“I know many veterans who have access to such amazing benefits but are intimidated about the process. I would emphasize how easy it was at Mason. The veterans and military office is always willing to talk and help you through whatever problems you have.”
As for his time in the program, Kasak says his group work with fellow students was most memorable for him. “I was always surrounded by fun, like-minded, and good people. Some of the members of my project group from my first semester are still some of my closest friends to this day and are thriving in the real estate industry,” says Kasak.
Following graduation, Kasak started a real estate development and investment company called Kastle REDI LLC. “With Kastle REDI, I plan to develop and invest in residential real estate assets throughout the East Coast. I am utilizing the knowledge I have learned and the relationships I have built through my Mason MS in real estate development degree in order to do so.”
His advice: “I would suggest maintaining your network and the connections that have been cultivated through George Mason University and the School of Business. Nothing is more exciting than seeing your friends and fellow students grow in their careers. You also never know when you may need their help, or they may need yours.”
Felicity Wiafe Akenten
BS Accounting’18, MS Accounting ’19
Finance Technician and Staff Accountant, U.S. Army Reserve
Felicity Wiafe Akenten says she chose Mason for her MS in accounting because of the reputation of the School of Business and its location. “Mason is highly praised, and graduates are easily placed into the workforce. Also, I knew I wanted to work in Washington, D.C., so I wanted a school in the area for ease.”
Yet, the support she received from fellow students, faculty, and staff is what made the difference for her. “During what I considered my lowest academic moment [when] I thought about dropping a difficult class, Professor Ingram encouraged me not to drop it and assured me I could definitely do better.”
Akenten says she appreciated the events held by Mason’s Office of Military Services. “They organized activities for military and veterans such as resume polishing, mock interviews, and job opportunities specifically for the military. I think it’s great that Mason has a veteran’s office, as not every school does, and they try to do events to meet students’ needs.”
For Akenten, her main goal of pursuing her master’s degree was to obtain the 150 credits required for her CPA license, which she hopes will open additional doors in her career. Her advice: “Whatever you do in the workplace reflects upon Mason, so I would advise all Mason alumni and those about to enter into the workforce to be as diligent and professional as they can, because they become Mason ambassadors once they mention they graduated from Mason. Employers will be willing to hire other Mason students based on their performance and behavior.”
Major Patrick James Jones
Executive MBA ’19
Congressional Appropriations Liaison and Financial Management Officer, U.S. Marine Corps
Major Patrick James Jones entered the Executive MBA program in hopes that the degree would supplement his career experience and help him become a better financial manager in the U.S. Marines.
With a few Patriots already in the family—his sister-in-law and wife are both Mason grads— Jones says he was drawn to Mason because of the Executive MBA’s course schedule. “Weekend classes allowed me to focus on work and family during the week.”
For Jones, Mason’s commitment to active duty military was impressive. “Mason’s Military Services Office has been extremely helpful and responsive whenever I had questions about VA [Veterans Affairs] services. I enjoyed the fact that the folks working in the office were also veterans and students I could talk with about our experiences at school.”
His advice: “Do your best to maintain balance in your life. We all went to school to refine certain skills, obtain new ones, and become better at our jobs, but in pursuit of our new career goals, don’t get too caught up and forget to take care of your mental, spiritual, and physical health.”