From public health crisis volunteer to College of Public Health graduate


Sinoxolo “Susan” Favor was doing public health work in her native South Africa long before she enrolled in the College of Public Health at George Mason University. 

Portrait of Susan Favor. Photo provided.
Susan Favor. Photo provided.

Between 2009 and 2010, HIV and AIDS infection rates were very high in South Africa, she said, so she began doing outreach and volunteer work at her school to educate others. Favor also volunteered at the South Africa Department of Health, where her mother is a nurse practitioner.

“My school would go out and work with the community,” said Favor. “I didn't really know what public health was, until I started this work [and realized] that my whole life I've been living in a public health crisis.”

Now Favor is graduating from this spring with a BS in community health from the first college of public health in Virginia.

Favor came to United States in 2014 and worked for almost 10 years, mainly in health care, before going to Northern Virginia Community College for two years and transferring into Mason through the ADVANCE Program.

What’s your best memory at Mason?

I've been working at the Office of Student Affairs [in the College of Public Health] where I meet a lot of students who call in for help. I think my best memories are getting those calls and then giving them the help that they need. I think about how, as a student, I would want to be helped. If I came into this office, I want to leave here with solutions for my problems. It’s the best thing every day when students walk in asking questions, and I'm able to give them answers.

What is your best piece of advice for incoming students?

Find yourself a good friend who's doing the same program and will help you through it. It's good to have somebody that can relate to you and understand what you’re going through. I have that one friend, and we are going through this process together.  Also take advantage of all the opportunities presented. Mason has a lot of opportunities like scholarships to apply for; call all the offices and ask questions. There's never a dumb question, and there's a solution for every problem.

What’s next for you?

I’ll be coming back to Mason in the future. [I’m getting] a master's degree in global health through Mason’s Bachelor’s to Accelerated Master’s Program. I hope to work with USAID Project Management Specialists on HIV and AIDS treatments and preventions, especially with young girls in South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and all of the southern hemisphere of Africa. I want to make sure they have the information they need about reproduction and sexual health. Education is key; it’s the best prevention.