He was born on the east side of Anchorage with a normal childhood, playing video games like “NBA Live” and enjoying his youth. His name is Xavier Mason, and he is the Spring 2015 Commencement speaker.
Mason grew up in Anchorage and later transferred to Eagle River High School, where he had a hard time fitting in.
“My freshman year, I was kind of a loner ‘cause I didn’t grow up there and I didn’t know anybody. The only person I knew for the ?rst month was my brother,” he said.
Mason then took the opportunity to join the football tea.
By his senior year of high school, Mason had already completed most of the credits needed to graduate, so he turned to home-school.
“It was fun. I was just at my own pace, so I could go faster and just not waste any time,” Mason said.
Now a UAA senior, Mason is completing his degree in management and marketing. He hopes to be a social entrepreneur and dreams of becoming the head of conglomerat.
“I really like creating, building things and I want to continue doing that, such as budding a company, make it sustainable, move on and then build something else,” said Mason.
Mason has always been interested in business marketing because it gives room for creativity, which he believes is “valued and sti?ed.” His role models include accomplished and ambitious rappers, with a prime example being none other than Jay Z.
“You ?nd the ambition and you ?nd it contagious in his artistry, it goes into detail how to achieve exactly what he is doing,” said Mason.
Reaching just as high as his role models, Mason applied to be the Spring 2015 Commencement speaker in memory of his late grandfather Jean who passed away in November 2013.
“He was a man of extreme intellect but due to his circumstances he wasn’t able to show the world what he can do. He really inspired me to get an education,” said Mason.
As far as second guessing goes, Xavier said there were many other intelligent students at UAA who applied.
“Part of me is wanting to see if I had what it takes,” he said.
Mason’s friends support him in his ambitions as well. While studying abroad through the Semester at Sea program two years ago, Mason met fellow student Bryson Banks.
When Banks first met Mason, he thought, “He seems like a cool dude, maybe we’ll see each other around the ship periodically.”
But as the months continued, Bryson began to see Xavier’s bright personality as a light in the darkness.
“From his aforementioned infectious laugh, to his words of encouragement, to his radical ideas, to his impartiality towards others no matter their race, religion, sexual orientation or otherwise, he truly is a respecter of persons and can change the atmosphere of an environment instantly as a result of his energy,” said Bryson.
As far as the commencement speech goes, Bryson believes Mason is the perfect ?t for speaker.
“He’s candid, honest, and unequivocally transparent, and is not one to mince words, but somehow communicates everything with the ultimate grace, poise and meekness, be?tting someone 30 years his senior,” said Bryson.
An advisory committee composed a communications faculty member, the faculty senate president and several graduating students selects the Commencement speaker. After the application deadline, the committee reviews the applicants and decides who would best represent the class. The committee believed that Mason was, without a doubt, the right decision.
“He’s done a lot for his community. He’s part of the Emerging Leaders Program. He has an array of experiences that makes him unique but also makes him a good representative of someone to look up to,” said Paula Fish, assistant director of Student Life and Leadership. “His content was really great, the kind of content you want in order to convey a message that’s comprehensive of the entire campus because there are so many types of students including traditional, non traditional, students with kids or family et cetera.”
Justice major Ruddy Abam agrees that Mason is fit for the Commencement speech. She met him two years ago and took courses with him, eventually becoming friends through his strong passion for leadership.
“He was telling the class about his experience as a leader, and it just grew on me how passionate of an individual he was,” said Abam.
Abam believes that Mason will convey a message that will be easily relatable because his humbleness balances his leadership prowess.
“He is the most humble person. To be able to do as much as him and to remain that way is very admirable, and I believe people will see that,” said Abam.
Mason will deliver his speech May 3 at the Alaska Airlines Center. After graduation, Mason plans to stay in Alaska, because it ultimately is his home. However, he will continue to travel in order to gain experience with various places around the world. He hopes to achieve many goals throughout his lifetime, which includes giving a memorable commencement speech.