The annual Distinguished Alumni Reception recognizes the accomplishments of an exemplary alum from each of the academic programs in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Those honored are nominated by department chairs, faculty and staff, based on criteria that includes professional accomplishments, awards, philanthropy, service and contributions to the college and university community. In Fall 2017, the History program honored Sharon Deane.
Sharon received her master’s degree in history, magna cum laude, from Mason in 2010, complementing a career that has included work in interior design, project management, facilities management, and museum education. She currently works for the Department of Defense, in a dual role as an exhibit project manager and education specialist at the United States 50th Anniversary Vietnam War Commemoration.
Born in Stuttgart, Germany, Sharon grew up in different parts of the world as her father, Lt. Col. William L. Deane, served in the U.S. Army, including two tours in Vietnam. Lt. Col. Deane was declared Missing In Action after his helicopter was shot down in the Quang Tri province in 1973, and Sharon’s family endured 27 years of uncertainty until some of his remains were recovered and interred at Arlington National Cemetery in 2000. As a Gold Star Daughter, Sharon finds great meaning in the opportunity to serve those who have served and have sacrificed.
Recently, Sharon and her project team received the 2017 John Wesley Powell Prize for excellence in historic preservation and display for their permanent exhibit, “The Vietnam War,” which occupies an extensive portion of a corridor in the Pentagon. The display, ironically, is located in one of the same portions of the building where, after September 11, 2001, Sharon helped manage the Pentagon’s multi-million dollar renovation.
After earning her history degree, Sharon served as Director of Education at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, the organization that manages the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and worked on early design and development efforts for the Education Center at the Wall on the National Mall. In her current position at DOD, Sharon supports the Commemoration’s mission of thanking and honoring Vietnam veterans through pinning ceremonies and promoting education on Vietnam throughout the United States. She has encouraged many POW-MIA and Gold Star families as they seek closure for their losses, and she has volunteered her time and talents for the Girl Scouts, her church, and her local community.