When Charlottesville, Virginia, native Clare Yordy was looking at colleges, she knew she wanted an experience that was different from her high school years.
There was a lot she liked about George Mason University—it was a few hours from home, its proximity to Washington, D.C.—but what really sold Yordy was the Honors College.
“I liked the idea of being in a smaller community while still being at a large university,” she said.
Yordy also appreciated the flexibility the Honors College provided, and she was able to keep progressing toward degree completion as she experimented with several majors: theater (“I really enjoy being creative.”), government and international politics (“In the aftermath of the 2016, I felt the need to switch.”), and finally human development and family science, from which she is graduating this month with a bachelor of arts degree.
Yordy has always enjoyed working with children and families and plans a career along those lines. She has worked with children throughout her time at Mason.
For most of her life, Yordy has been involved with Camp Kesem, a national nonprofit that provides free summer camps for children impacted by a parent’s cancer. After losing her mother as a young child, Yordy said she attended these summer camps for 10 years and has wonderful memories of those trips.
“It was always a week of total fun,” she said.
The camps are run by college students with more than 100 chapters across the country. One of the first things Yordy did upon arriving at Mason was work to start a chapter here, which she directed for two years and continues to be involved in. She said that the Mason chapter has run a camp each summer for 50 children.
“It is really important for those campers to have the chance to just be kids for a week,” she said.
Yordy also said it was the “constants” that helped her make the most of her time, even during the pandemic. Those constants are the Camp Kesem chapter, the Honors College and her mentor, School of Business professor Lisa Gring-Pemble.
Yordy first worked with Gring-Pemble in HNRS 110 Principles of Research and Inquiry in the first semester of her freshman year. It was Gring-Pemble who urged Yordy to apply for the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program through the Office of Student Scholarship, Creative Activities, and Research (OSCAR) where she continued her research.
Yordy was one of the Mason students selected to attend the National Conference on Undergraduate Research in 2017, where she presented that paper on how bisexuality is portrayed in film and television. She also served as a research assistant to Gring-Pemble.
“Clare is the epitome of a scholar at her finest,” said Gring-Pemble. “She is inquisitive, creative, diligent, and accomplished. She has a brilliant future ahead, and it has been a privilege to share part of her academic journey.”
As Commencement nears, Yordy said she is grateful for all the opportunities Mason has provided. She is posing for photos in her cap and gown and planning a virtual party in an effort to “make graduation as normal as possible” during the pandemic.
“This year has been all about flexibility,” Yordy said.