From NYC to NoVA: Ms. Mural

Ms.+Mural

Ms. Mural, Mason’s new College and Career Counselor. (Photo courtesy of Ms. Mural)

Eva Williams, Features Editor

Ms. Sheri Mural is many things—a graduate of Mt. Holyoke and New York University, a former biology major, a gardener, a mom—but most recently, she’s the new College and Career Counselor at George Mason. 

This year, she’ll celebrate her 24th year in education. She worked as an independent college counselor before coming to George Mason, but that is hardly where the story of her career begins. She’s worked in college admissions at a number of different universities in New York. She’s been a director of admissions and financial aid at a middle school and high school, and has filled other roles in independent middle and high schools throughout her career. “I’ve had the privilege of working with preschoolers all the way to graduate school students.” 

Needless to say, her 24 years in education thus far have been pretty busy. 

Ms. Mural grew up in central New York, alongside her older and younger brother. After attending Mount Holyoke College in western Massachusetts, she moved to Manhattan to attend New York University for graduate school. 

Surprisingly, her bachelor’s degree doesn’t fall under what you’d expect of someone in the education field. She received her bachelors in biology at Mount Holyoke and then started pursuing a PhD in biomedical research in New York City. She worked on this degree in New York for a year, studying at Mt. Sinai Medical Center. However, she left the program and received her master’s in student personnel, a program similar to higher education. 

“I thought my path was going to be a college biology professor, and decided that the research part wasn’t going to work for me, and found another career path that was going to put me in education, working with students.” 

She started in college admissions in New York City, working at New York University, Columbia University, and Barnard College. “I decided that I wanted to have a different lifestyle. Manhattan’s awesome, I loved it. But I needed a change of scenery.” 

She’s been physically based in Northern Virginia since moving from Manhattan. This will be her 19th year in the NoVA area. However, she’s worked with students across the globe, with domestic and international companies with a focus on college counseling. 

So, no big moves or career shifts were made to start her position as College and Career counselor at Mason. “A lot of the work I did for the past 15 years has been remote. So from a professional standpoint, jumping into doing remote work with George Mason students has been pretty seamless.” 

However, she’ll admit that the virtual environment George Mason is currently in has been strange. “Starting a position without meeting colleagues face to face has had its unique challenges.” 

Ms. Mural has a second grader and a seventh grader that she’s been quarantined with, along with her spouse. While her transition to a job in a virtual environment hasn’t been too difficult, she discussed the challenges parents around the world have been experiencing. “I think the chaos has been at home with a family. The logistics of maintaining stability for younger kids, groceries, managing life with the new COVID requirements has been far more of a challenge than the professional piece for me.” 

She’s been able to find serenity in re-doing her yard, creating beautiful spaces for flowers and bushes. “I’ve always enjoyed gardening, but COVID has definitely kicked it up a notch.”

some of Ms. Mural's flowers
Ms. Mural enjoys tending to her garden to unwind. (Photo courtesy of Ms. Mural)

Despite her experience with the virtual environment, she is enthusiastic to meet students in person. “I hope to share with students an awful lot of excitement about [college] acceptances and interesting new career paths as they think about life post high school.” 

She also has input on the difficult situation many Class of 2021 students are facing. “Realize that the people on the other side of the computer screen are people that are also living through the pandemic. My instinct is that more so than other times in the application process, the class of 2021 will be given a tremendous amount of grace in the reading and selection process.” 

For the senior class of 2021, she has a final word of advice: “Take a deep breath. Polish your materials. Control what you can control. And hopefully, reap the rewards with college acceptances for the months to come.”