The Making of a Student Body President: Meet David Kanos

Student body president David Kanos, a senior government and international politics major, speaks at the New Student Convocation in August. Photo by Ron Aira.

Say this for David Kanos: He thinks big.

The George Mason University senior hopes one day to be an ambassador from his native Nigeria to the United States, United Nations or China. Perhaps he could hold public office in Nigeria, he said. Perhaps he could even be his country’s president.

“I want to serve my country,” Kanos said. “I want to go back and help those who could have been me or even better than me, but who haven’t gotten the opportunity. That’s what drives me.”

The government and international politics major says all this with a matter-of-factness that underscores a confident and welcoming persona that registers with his fellow George Mason students, who last spring voted him their student body president. He is the first international student at Mason to hold the post.

“That’s a huge honor for me,” Kanos said. “It shows how far Mason has come that someone who wasn’t born here can come here and show they care about the Mason community. We preach and talk about diversity, but really implementing it, that’s what George Mason exemplifies. That’s what George Mason is all about.”

Kanos, from Jos, a city of about 900,000 in central Nigeria, found out about Mason when he was a high school sophomore attending a Global Young Leaders conference in Washington, D.C., and New York in 2012.

He learned Mason’s Schar School of Policy and Government is well respected, and liked Mason’s proximity to the nation’s capital. And when a friend’s sister, who graduated from the Schar School, talked up the university, Kanos was sold.

Kanos dove into campus life. He played club soccer, and was treasurer for the African Student Association and undersecretary for identity affairs for Student Government. He made friends outside his immediate social circle.

“Mason has enabled me to meet new people who may not have the same ideological concepts as me, who don’t look like me, who don’t act like me, but who I can coexist and live with,” Kanos said. “We respect each other’s differences. Mason has really emphasized that for me. I got to know a lot of people and build great relationships.”

“He’s got a great demeanor about him,” said student body vice president Kelley Dugan, a senior integrative studies major who was Kanos’ running mate. “He’s just passionate, and I think people admire that about him. Whatever he sets his mind to, he does with full force. His support for other students, it’s not for his own benefit. He’s doing it for other people. It’s not like he’s doing it to put on a resume. ”

Kanos said his platform includes working with the university administration to extend Fenwick Library’s hours during exams, and establishing a shuttle service between the Fairfax and Arlington Campuses.

“We also want a lot of representation for the minority groups, the cultural groups on campus that don’t feel like they’re getting their voices heard or needs met,” said Kanos, who praised the help he has received from Dugan and his cabinet.

“They have great ideas,” he said. “We’re coming together also with the [Student] Senate to make sure it’s not just about David or Kelley, but about the students we are serving.”

Spoken like a true leader.