There were only 92 other students in Mason Malone’s graduating high school class. In fact, there are only 6000 total residents of his hometown, White Oak, located about 200 miles north of Houston. For a young man from such a small town, the thought of attending a large university was daunting. He intended to attend a small, liberal arts college.
“My senior year in high school, I received a postcard in the mail from UH’s Honors College. Particularly, I enjoyed the way the card described the Honors College: the feel of a private liberal arts college at a large tier-one research university,” says Malone.
Still skeptical, Malone visited the UH campus in the spring of his senior year.
“After that visit, I decided to come here. The university felt the way that the postcard described,” he says.
The next time Malone stepped foot on UH’s campus was in August 2015, and he was now a College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences freshman with two majors – liberal studies and economics. He also enrolled in the Honors College’s 3+3 undergraduate/law dual degree program. This new program will allow him to begin law school during his senior year at UH, one year early.
“My conversations with Mason on the 3+3 Law Dual Degree Program began the summer before he enrolled in the Honors College,” says Alison Leland, instructor of political science and co-director of the UH Bonner Leaders Program. “He was careful and methodical, wanting to be clear about expectations and opportunities. He’s fully participated in our programs as well as excelled in the Law Center’s Summer Pipeline Program for pre- law students. Mason is on track to graduate in three years and to begin his law school studies. ”
“I don’t have a specific legal career in mind, but I look forward to the skills I will gain in law school, specifically analytical reading, critical thinking, and communication,” he says. “For my liberal studies degree, I am studying phronesis, politics and ethics, and public relations. I added the economics major because it employs critical thinking, but more so with numbers than with words.”
During his junior year in high school, Malone was awarded a four-year scholarship from the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, relieving him from the financial burden of paying for his education.
“The HLSR scholarship means academic freedom. As a college student, I’ve been given a great luxury: four years of thinking and developing my skills. Because of the scholarship, not only can I fully devote myself to my studies instead of worrying about paying for college, I can contribute to extracurriculars like research in constitutional law and political theory,” says Malone.
One of his extracurriculars is working with the Bonner Leaders Program. This program at UH is one of more than 80 programs nationwide offering developmental and educationally meaningful service opportunities for students.
“I work in two education projects: Writing to Inspire Successful Education (iWISE) and the Houston Scholars Writing Workshop (HSWW). Our education projects have a common focus. They aim to eradicate the income-education achievement gap. Your parents’ income should not determine your performance on a standardized test,” says Malone.
In addition, Malone was recently awarded a 2017 Faber-Economon European Travel (F.E.E.T.) Scholarship. The goal of the F.E.E.T. scholarship is to provide students who've never been "across the pond" the chance to visit Europe without having to enroll in classes or take time off from school. Scholarship recipients receive airfare to/from Europe, a 3-week Eurail pass and a €1000.00 stipend.
“It’s an extraordinary opportunity because I’ve never been to Europe,” says Malone. “I know that not everyone will get to visit Europe in his or her lifetime so I am fortunate to have the opportunity. I do not plan to go to Europe and have a vacation. I plan to experience the culture, learn the history—immerse myself.”
In addition to having incredible academic experiences at UH, Malone has grown personally as well.
“Currently, what I view as the area in which I’ve grown the most personally is being more comfortable with the fact that I’m gay,” says Malone. “In high school, I told my two closest friends at the start of junior year, and after that, no one else knew for a year and a half. College has allowed me to be open about my sexuality.”
Looking back, Malone has no regrets about choosing UH over a smaller college.
“I want to have a career where I am challenged, where I must think, write and speak critically,” says Malone. “If I maintain and build the relationships I’ve made at UH, I will have multiple opportunities from which to choose.”
“Mason will make a great lawyer - he’s an excellent writer and researcher,” says Leland. “Mason is also thoughtful, giving and focused. He has not hesitated to use his gifts and talents to help others.”