Sometimes casual talks with colleagues or acquaintances leave you with changed perspectives and a lasting impact. Since I easily cling to any advice and inspirational anecdotes, here are some thoughts I would like to share with you from my conversation I had with Mason Davenport. For those who don’t know him, he is the Assistant Registrar, and he can be found in the power alley next to the Assistant Dean’s office. Mason is someone who lives life to its very best, in tune with all its stressors, and he is so excited for our learning and growth!
If Mason could be anywhere in the world right now, he would be in another country, by the water, eating a fabulous meal with his spouse. But he says that if I asked him this question yesterday, then he would probably want to be somewhere in the mountains. For Mason, everyday is different, every day brings something new.
Mason was born and brought up in north Florida, the part he says that people don’t really associate with Florida. Mason graduated with an English major in North Carolina at Peace College (now William Peace University), but without much hesitation, he followed his, now, spouse, Rebecca Mimnall, to Washington DC, where she studied further at George Washington University. They currently reside in DC and this is where he commutes from, tuning into theological volumes of his favourite author, Karen Armstrong, or other non-fiction readings and getting frustrated with their two cats. Mason says, “Now we’re here, and this is home.”
Before Mason came to St. John’s, he worked in higher education for nearly 10 years at Trinity Washington University and, later, Wesley Theological Seminary. Over those years, he has worked in financial aid, registration, student accounts, and in the dean’s office. This prepared him for his role as an Assistant Registrar at St. John’s College and working in all the different areas helped him see that the Office of the Registrar is where he enjoyed working the most. His main priorities are to maintain and protect student academic information- but as we all are well aware, any job at St. John’s has unique twists. Here, Mason is responsible for registering students in classes (which is weird here because students would typically register themselves at any other school), planning the senior oral and don rag schedules, and, as he puts it, “much more SQL coding than one would think for a non-IT position.”
Mason is also the first in his family to have gone to college. He discovered the importance of educators early on in life, and in college he was very active as a student-leader. He was president of the LGBTQ student group, interned with student services, and was a peer educator, among other things. Being so active in college helped him realize that he wanted to continue working in colleges. Mason is a believer in broad education, and the constant change and newness is one of the reasons he loves St. John’s. Often during the course of the day he realises how weird this place is but he is left feeling astounded by everyone here. “People here are all on different paths with such different interests,” and he is always fascinated by the breadth of human experience seen here. He loves seeing us all change over the years.
When I asked him what he is looking forward to this year, he was confused, paused for a moment and said, “Everything, I don’t know, life? Enjoying the nice weather, playing board games with friends?”
While we all scurry around, making sure we have everything covered on our to-do list, Mason simply reminded me that, “Everyday has something, some days are nice, some days are hard, but as long as there is something that can center you a little bit and make you feel whole, then that’s something to look forward to.”
Here is some advice from Mason to Johnnies:
Being the steward of records keeping and purging things is an everyday task:
“There’s an appropriate time to cleanse yourself of things, be it your documents, your college papers, material possessions, or even spiritual or emotional things.” Mason says to keep anything “at least a little longer than you think you need to, until you know you for sure that you don’t need it anymore. There will be times when you get sick of everything and want to get rid of it, but you don’t want to get rid of something too soon only to realise that you now miss it.”