Alumni Association launches book scholarship in honor of esteemed colleague and alumna


In summer 2023, the Mason Nation mourned the loss of one of its most steadfast friends. Amy Takayama-Perez, BA Sociology ’96, MEd ’02, worked for many years to welcome students to George Mason University—first as a director of recruitment and later as a leader in Mason’s Admissions Office, culminating in her role as dean of admissions, a position she held for nearly eight years.

Amy Takayama-Perez and Rick Perez
Amy Takayama-Perez and Rick Perez. Photo provided

In July, she passed away following a two-year battle with triple-negative breast cancer.

"She just loved Mason,” said Rick Perez, Amy's husband. “And she loved the students she was working with.”

Speaking about the early days of Amy’s Mason career, when she arrived as a transfer student from the University of Connecticut, Rick related that her relationship with Mason’s Admissions Office formed quickly. “Talk about getting thrown into the fire!” he recalled. “She knew nobody here, and started working in the office, taking phone calls, as a student worker.”

That position led to Amy’s first job following graduation. “She applied for and was offered a job as what they called a roadrunner.... She would go and recruit on the road, in the fall, up in the Northeast. And so, she really kind of built out the New England space for George Mason,” said Rick. “She was like: I grew up in New Hampshire, I went to the University of Connecticut, I know that area, I can make this work.

“She did such a great job, building that out, she was offered a counselor role and she just sort of kept going,” said Rick.

Mason’s mission of inclusion was one that drove Amy, as well. “Her motto was, ‘Let’s build a bigger table,’” said Rick. “Let’s find a place for first-generation students, for kids who just need to be given an opportunity.” During meetings with family members of students in Mason’s Early Identification Program, Amy would bring Rick, fluent in Spanish, to translate when necessary.

Amy was a bright light for students and for her colleagues; she never wavered from a commitment to either group’s well-being,” said David Burge, Mason’s vice president for enrollment management. “She was legitimately inspirational in the way she approached her work and made everyone around her better for having known her.”

Amy was also an enthusiastic Mason alum. When their son chose to attend Mason himself, he told Rick: “That’s where our family goes to school. I’ve been going to this place since I was a kid, a literal baby watching basketball games.”

Beyond enjoying Mason basketball, Amy’s dedication to her alma mater took the form of her service as a faithful member of the board of the George Mason University Alumni Association (GMUAA). It is in her honor that the GMUAA board has established the Amy Takayama-Perez Memorial Student Book Award.

This is a tribute befitting a double alum who was passionate about all things Mason, a former board member who meant so much to the university,” said Jenn Robinson, JM ‘02, associate vice president of alumni relations and GMUAA executive director.

A book scholarship helps to defray the expenses involved in students’ purchases of books and supplies, which can present a considerable burden each semester. “The goal of the award is to help as many students as possible, just as Amy worked to do in her time at Mason,” added Robinson.

“Amy was an incredible leader and friend,” said Elena Johnson, director of outreach and partnerships in Mason’s Office of Admissions. “She worked diligently to ensure higher education was accessible and available for everyone, and I am so glad that students will benefit from a scholarship in her memory.”

Donations to the Amy Takayama-Perez Memorial Student Book Award may be made here. Donors may consider making a gift to the fund on Mason Vision Day, April 4, 2024, when friends of George Mason University are invited to support the cause at Mason that speaks to them most compellingly.