Hammed Sirleaf: Bringing a New Perspective to Mason’s Greek Life

At the end of July, Hammed Sirleaf was packing his car up to head back to the East Coast. This time he wasn’t necessarily returning home to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina from his old job as the Program Coordinator for Fraternity and Sorority Life at the University of Louisville, but instead, he was heading to Fairfax, Virginia as the new Assistant Fraternity and Sorority Life Director.

In the last year, Mason’s Student Involvement Office struggled to find the right match to fulfill the position after former Assistant Fraternity and Sorority Life Director Julie Bryant left to take on a new position at North Carolina State University. Student Involvement desperately searched for someone with a new and aspiring perspective to bring to the team, and during the moment they thought they had lost all hope, in came Hammed, a young and knowledgeable candidate with extensive experience in Greek Life at the young age of 26. 

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As a Spring 2013 initiate of the Lambda Psi chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Incorporated, Hammed experienced life as a Greek undergraduate student. After he graduated from the College of Charleston in 2016, Hammed went on to be a Graduate Assistant at Oklahoma State in their Fraternity and Sorority Life office. From there his passion for working with students in Greek Life persisted and he is now accepting his new role here at Mason with a whole new vision. 

What made you want to get involved with Greek Life in higher education?

Hammed Sirleaf (HS): My undergraduate experience led to my interest and being involved with my organization [Phi Beta Sigma] gave me purpose. Being a part of this organization helped to ground me in so many ways and gave me a reason to wake up every morning. I was at a point where I had to change my major, and someone told me that because I was passionate about bettering others and seeing them at their best, I should go into higher education, so that kinda led me to figuring out what I wanted to do. In 2014, I did an internship at the University of West Georgia and it led to my decision of going into higher education especially within fraternity and sorority life. 

How do you plan on bringing in a new perspective to Mason’s Greek Life?

HS: One thing about me is that I’ve been at different types of universities. I was at a small-medium type liberal arts school, I worked at a huge football research institute, and then also being at a commuter school recently, I think that I have a multitude of perspectives to help Mason be at its best. There is not one type of Mason student, so how do we think outside of the box to engage all students and help them realize that fraternity and sorority is for them and that you can find a home within the 42 organizations we have here on campus. 

How is your transition going so far as the new Assistant FSL Director?

HS: I think my transition is going well so far. I think the greatest thing about Mason is that everyone is welcoming and the students are teaching me about customs and bringing me into different spaces. Also, Phil McDaniel, my supervisor, has been doing a great job getting me acclimated to Mason. I’m just really happy I’m in a space that people really care about me getting accustomed to the Patriot family. 

What is it that you look forward to the most as an advisor here at Mason?

HS: Getting to know the students. I love getting to know students and their stories. I love hearing about their experiences and helping them through that. I just love student interaction, I think that’s the best thing about my job. 

What do you want your students to know about you as an advisor?

HS: I’m approachable. Yes, I am an advisor, and yes, I work for the University, but I’m also somebody that has been initiated through an NPHC organization in undergrad. I’ve also been a black student on a white campus. I’ve had my ups and downs that I’m not afraid to share with others because I know others can be impacted by the light of my example. I think another thing I want students to know is that they can be themselves around me. Even though I am an advisor, being your authentic self is something I value and I want those around me to do the same.

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How do you plan on getting involved with University Life here on campus as a whole outside of your job as the Assistant FSL Director?

HS: I think University Life has a lot to offer and there are a lot of committees I would love to learn more about and get involved with. There are plenty of professional development opportunities in the division to know about, so getting myself really plugged in within the division of University Life will be very beneficial to my experience here. 

Where do you see Mason’s Greek Life going in the next year or two?

HS: I hope that we can help Mason students see that fraternity and sorority life is a vassal for involvement. Whether they live on campus or not; or they are college-age or not, they too can join one of these organizations. I hope that we can make better relationships with those in academics, and that professors can be involved with fraternity and sorority life through advising so that they can look at Greek life as something beneficial and not detrimental to the student experience. 

Hammed believes George Mason University has so much to offer and in his last month here as an advisor, he has grown so much. There are people that were once in his role that are now doing big things in fraternity and sorority life and he believes that being here at Mason can help him carry on their legacies.

If you ever need anything, whether you are Greek or not, Hammed’s door is always open in Student Involvement. Just stop by and say hello or follow him @hammedsirleaf on Instagram.