October 11, 2019

Mason Alexander-Hawk '20 is currently pursuing her Master of Public Service and Administration at the Bush School of Government and Public Service, where she is the recipient of the Kathy B. ’81 and Peter D. Huddleston ’80 Endowed Fellowship. This fellowship allows her to focus on her studies without worrying about how to pay tuition.
Major: Master of Public Service and Administration 
Hometown: Portland, Oregon
Scholarship: Kathy B. ’81 and Peter D. Huddleston ’80 Endowed Fellowship   

How do you overcome challenges?

Growing up, sports were a big outlet for me because they created commonality and comfort in uncomfortable spaces. I had coaches who influenced my success and helped me achieve milestones in my life. During my undergraduate years at Texas A&M International University in Laredo, Texas, I had the opportunity to play basketball and find that commonality in college.

As a child, I never lived in a place where there were people of color, so having a white mom with five biracial kids led to experiences that helped me grow and shaped who I am. Providing for and helping my family gave me strength and taught me to never give up.

When I face challenges now, I try to be honest with myself as to why I’m facing them. I see them as opportunities to learn and better myself, and I focus on turning everything into a positive. It was easy to be intimidated by adversity as a child, but today I tell myself to face problems head-on. I’ve learned that everything happens for a reason and that I should never accept failure; instead, I must be resilient and bounce back.

What has your experience at Texas A&M been like?

It’s been great! Everyone is welcoming and wants to help in any way they can. Even though the university is so big, there is tremendous pride in the Aggie family. I was worried about navigating this new space as a person of color, but I feel that there is a network of support and a community for me here. Plus, the Bush School’s willingness to work with my career plan is amazing. When I visited for interviews and met the students and faculty at the Bush School, I immediately felt they wanted me here and like Aggieland was home.


How has the Kathy B. ’81 and Peter D. Huddleston ’80 Endowed Fellowship impacted you?

It was a blessing to receive. Growing up in a low-income family for most of my life meant that I had to work extremely hard to support myself and my family. I didn’t like feeling uncertain and out of control, so when I started graduate school and that uncertainty came back, I kept thinking, “How can I afford this?” Receiving this fellowship and having someone recognize my hard work and see the potential in me was gratifying. The fellowship allows me to devote all of my time to graduate school instead of worrying about how to pay my next tuition bill. I attribute my first-year success to this fellowship; I really don’t know where I would have ended up without it.   

The Bush School is ranked in the nation's top 10% of graduate public affairs schools and produces dedicated individuals who are ready to serve the public. Graduate fellowships help attract the best and brightest students to the school and aid them in pursuing their degrees without financial burden.

How did you know you wanted to do nonprofit work?

After I graduated from Texas A&M International University, I went into corporate sales and hated it because when I left at the end of the day, I felt empty. I knew I had more to offer the world. I was recommended to work at a nonprofit called Elevate Oregon, which allowed me to build relationships with youth who face similar barriers that I did. It changed my life in a way I never imagined and made me fall in love with nonprofit work!

What impact do you hope to create in the future?

Anyone can start an organization to help others, but I want to create a sustainable nonprofit with longevity. My passion is empowering youth, but I realize there’s so much that goes into helping kids. They have to have a safe and stable environment around them, so I want my nonprofit’s focus to be on relieving housing insecurities in the whole community in order to help kids succeed and realize their potential.

To support students like Mason at the Bush School of Government and Public Service, contact Ale Rainey '15 below.