New Group of Students Receive Elena’s Scholarships for Student Well-Being

by Whitney Hopler, Communications Director

New Group of Students Receive Elena’s Scholarships for Student Well-Being
Elena Prien

Six Mason students will participate in well-being mentoring during the 2020-2021 academic year, as recipients of this year’s Elena’s Scholarships for Student Well-Being. They will also each receive a $1,000 financial award. Those students are:

“We received many more applications this year than in years past,” said Melissa Schreibstein, our center’s Director of Well-Being Programs. “In addition to the financial support they receive of course, I believe our students are yearning for connection in the midst of the forced social isolation caused by the pandemic. The award winners are a diverse group of talented, driven, and resilient students. They truly exemplify what Mason is all about, and they see the critical importance of building infrastructure around their own well-being and self-care in order to thrive during their time in college and beyond.”

The scholarships are named for Elena Prien, a Mason graduate (BIS, 1982) who endowed the scholarship fund to enhance the well-being of Mason’s undergraduate students. Each of the student recipients is assigned a Mason faculty or staff member with well-being skills as a mentor, to meet with regularly throughout the academic year.

“I have found mentorship immensely beneficial in my professional and personal life through both formal and informal programs,” said Philip Wilkerson, Manager of Industry Advising and Employer Development for University Career Services, who is serving as one of the program’s mentors this year. “I cannot stress the importance of giving back and helping someone who was once in your shoes. Our journey through life shouldn’t solely be about our own advancement, but the advancement of others as well.” 

Mentoring can have a significant positive impact on students’ well-being, Schreibstein said, but not all students are able to find mentors. She noted statistics from a Strada-Gallup alumni survey on mentoring college students that showed mentoring had a long-term positive impact on alumni, including higher well-being, more positive perceptions of their alma mater, and higher engagement at work. Yet, the survey also reported, fewer than half of students reported that they had a mentor who encouraged them to pursue their goals and dreams.