Nevada State College grad who had rough start graduates with near perfect GPA

Eric Mason was sleeping under bridges six years ago and sometimes on the roof of an abandoned building or a bathroom —- wherever he could find a suitable place for the night.

Last month he graduated from Nevada State College with a near-perfect GPA —- his two A minuses in four years knocked him down to a 3.97 —- and he was given the Nevada Regents’ Scholar Award. One student from each Nevada college and university is given that award.

Mason, a Whitney resident, received a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in addiction treatment and prevention.

He plans to get his master’s degree in social work at a university, possibly the University of Nevada, Las Vegas , and become a counselor for families with drug-related problems.

Mason has a long history of addiction.

He smoked his first joint in third grade , but his drug use never affected his performance in school until college. He flunked out after his first semester at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and joined the Navy.

He was a hospital corpsman for the Marine Corps. He began drinking heavily and developed an addiction to prescription medications. It was easy to get whatever drugs he wanted, he said. He would check himself into the ward, claiming a specific ailment because he knew what drugs would be prescribed to him.

Eventually he checked himself into rehab while at Camp Pendleton in California during the Gulf War.

Mason received an honorable discharge from the Navy and stayed in California. He had his first encounter with crystal methamphetamine shortly thereafter.

“Everything seemed fine until I ran into meth,” Mason said. “That’s when everything went shoooooh, down the drain.

“The first time I took it I stayed up for nine or 10 days straight,” he said.

He was broke, jobless and without a car until his parents brought him back to Nebraska in 1992 to stay with them.

He moved to Las Vegas in 1995 and stayed clean for nearly a decade.

In early 2004, his partner left him. Mason, driven by frustration and depression, started using drugs more than ever.

“I lost my house, lost my car, lost my job, and the next thing I knew, I was homeless, wandering the streets of Las Vegas,” Mason said. “No dignity, no self-respect, parents weren’t taking my phone calls anymore.

“I remember sitting in front of the Fashion Show Mall, and people didn’t take the time to notice I was there,” he said. “They were so disgusted. It’s kind of like being in a fish bowl and watching the world pass you by.”

Mason calls it the worst year of his life. He spent time in and out of jail for various crimes.

“I should have died several times,” he said. “They talk about addiction being a disease and progressive. Mine progressed really fast. If any drug was put in front of me, I’d do it.”

He began looking forward to going to jail because at least he had a place to sleep and daily meals.

He was arrested for the last time in December 2004 and entered a drug court program that included counseling, daily drug tests and five years of probation.

Mason attributes his recovery in large part to the people at Hamburger Mary’s who gave him a job despite his past. His bosses worked around his schedule and gave him support throughout his recovery.

Then-general manager Ernie Yuen remembers the first day Mason came into the restaurant.

“He said, ‘O ne day I want to be you,’ ” Yuen said. “I saw there was something about him. He was very honest and open. He said, ‘G ive me a chance and let me prove myself.’ Slowly but surely he evolved and changed. “

Mason enrolled in Nevada State College in Henderson after one of his drug counselors recommended he become a counselor himself.

He graduated s umma c um l aude and, at 40 years old, was asked to make the school’s commencement speech on behalf of the students.

“It is now our responsibility to go out into society and contribute to the resolve of our nation’s troubles,” Mason said during his speech. “We must contribute our time, knowledge and skills into neighborhoods, schools and our communities. It is our turn to pay it forward.”

Many in Mason’s family were in attendance for his graduation. His mother, Linda, flew out from Nebraska while in treatment for her third bout with liver cancer.

Eric Mason is scheduled to start an internship this week as a counselor for the same drug court program he went through years earlier.

“It’s a good fit because he learned how important (counseling) was for him,” Linda Mason said.

Contact View education reporter Jeff Mosier at or 224-5524.

Who can understand hospital price lists?
Lists of costs for procedures, drugs and devices are now posted the websites of hospitals to comply with a new federal rule designed to provide additional consumer transparency. Good luck figuring out what they mean.
People in Mesquite deal with a massive power outage
People in Mesquite respond to a major power outage in the area on Monday, Jan. 21, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Group helping stranded motorists during power outage
A group of Good Samaritans are offering free gas to people in need at the Glendale AM/PM, during a massive power outage near Mesquite on Monday, Jan. 21, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
U.S. Sen. Jacky Rosen falls at Las Vegas parade
U.S. Sen. Jacky Rosen of Nevada fell and injured her wrist at the Martin Luther King Day parade in Las Vegas on Monday, Jan. 21, 2019. (Nathan Asselin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tate Elementary shows academic progress after categorical funding
Students at Tate Elementary in Las Vegas has benefited from a program to boost education funding in targeted student populations, known as categorical funding. One program called Zoom helps students who have fallen below grade level in reading. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Three Square helps TSA workers
Three Square Food Bank donated over 400 care bags to TSA workers affected by the government shutdown Wednesday, filled with food, personal hygiene products and water.
Las Vegas furniture store donates to Clark County firehouses
Walker Furniture donated new mattresses to all 30 Clark County firehouses in the Las Vegas Valley, starting today with Station 22. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Mount Charleston Gets Heavy Snow, Fog
Mount Charleston saw heavy snow today, and fog in lower elevations as a cold front swept across the Las Vegas Valley. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Krystal Whipple arrested in Arizona
Krystal Whipple, charged in the killing of a Las Vegas nail salon manager over a $35 manicure, is expected to return to Nevada to face a murder charge.
Holocaust survivor on acceptance
Holocaust survivor Celina Karp Biniaz, who was the youngest person on Schindler’s List, talks about the most important message for people to understand from her life and experiences.
Holocaust survivor speaks about telling her story
Holocaust survivor Celina Karp Biniaz, who was the youngest person on Schindler’s List, tells of opening up about her experiences during Sunday’s event at Temple Sinai.
Jesus Jara State of the Schools address
Clark County School District Superintendent Jesus Jara delivers his State of the Schools address on Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. (Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Michael Naft sworn in to Clark County Commission
Michael Naft, chosen by Gov. Steve Sisolak to be his replacement on the Clark County Commission, was sworn into office on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. (Shea Johnson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES Opening Party in Omnia Nightclub at Caesars Palace
CES conventioneers packed Omnia Nightclub at Caesars Palace, and let loose as they danced to DJs into the night. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas police piecing together details of fatal shooting
Six hours after the fact, Las Vegas homicide detectives worked to reconstruct the scene of a shooting early Jan. 7 that left one man dead in the southeast valley. (Rio Lacanlale/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dyer Lawrence explains college football playoff system proposal
Las Vegan Dyer Lawrence has a new idea for a college football playoff system that includes a unique scheduling component called National Call Out Day. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Death row inmate Scott Dozier found dead in his cell
Nevada death row inmate Scott Dozier is dead. Dozier’s death ends his legal odyssey, which began in 2007 when he was convicted in the 2002 murder of Jeremiah Miller, but does little to clarify what’s next for Nevada’s death penalty.
I-15 southbound near Primm closed after ‘major crash’
A rollover crash Saturday morning involving at least nine vehicles on southbound Interstate 15 near Primm caused an hourslong traffic delay. Traffic was backed up to Sloan, live traffic cameras show. (Rio Lacanlale/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Death Valley visitors deal with shutdown
Visitors staying at the Furnace Creek Campground were forced to move from the campground following health and safety concerns due to lack of resources during the partial government shutdown at Death Valley National Park in Calif., on Friday, Jan. 4, 2019. Richard Brian Las Vegas Review-Journal @vegasphotograph
Half of homicides in Henderson for 2018 domestic violence related
Lt. Kirk Moore of the public information office of the city of Henderson police department speaks to the Review-Journal in Henderson, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019. Henderson saw a slight increase in homicides in the past year. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Governor-elect Steve Sisolak stops by Las Vegas Boys and Girls Club
Governor-elect Steve Sisolak kicks off his tour to Carson City, which will take him from Las Vegas, through Tonopah, and up to the capital city. First stop is the Downtown Boys & Girls Club.
Certificates for renewing wedding vows in Clark County
The Marriage License Bureau in Clark County began issuing a Certificate of Vow Renewal to married couples who are renewing their wedding vows on Jan. 3, 2019. (Shea Johnson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas flu season better than last year (so far)
Dr. Fermin Leguen, chief medical officer and director of clinical services at the Southern Nevada Health District, said there were 24 flu-related deaths at this point in the flu season. No deaths have been reported so far this year. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
The Las Vegas Valley’s First Baby of 2019
The first 2019 baby in the Las Vegas Valley was Melialani Chihiro Manning, born at 12:10 a.m. at Henderson Hospital. (Briana Erickson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas NYE Fireworks - VIDEO
The full show: A spectacular view from the rooftop of the Trump International Hotel as 80,000 pyrotechnics illuminated the Las Vegas Strip at the stroke of midnight. Fireworks by Grucci choreographed launches from the Stratosphere, the Venetian, Treasure Island, Caesars Palace, Planet Hollywood, Aria and MGM Grand.
Snow in Henderson on New Year's Eve morning
Light snow flurries in Anthem Highlands in Henderson on Monday morning, the last day of 2018.
Sources: Henderson Constable may face more charges
Henderson Constable Earl Mitchell may face additional charges ... stemming from his spending of county funds, sources said. Mitchell was indicted earlier this month on five felony theft and fraud charges ... after a Las Vegas Review-Journal story questioned his spending. But grand jury records show even more extensive spending including ... an $800 dinner at steakhouse ... nearly 200 atm withdrawals mostly at gambling establishments ... and even Disneyland tickets. But his attorney plans to ask a judge to dismiss the charges.
Las Vegas NYE Restrictions and Enhanced Security
If you are planning to celebrate New Year's Eve on the Las Vegas Strip or Fremont Street, be aware that you are not allowed to bring backpacks, coolers, strollers or glass. There will also be an increase in security to ensure safe celebrations across town.
Catholic Charities serves up 53rd annual Christmas dinner
Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada and more than 100 volunteers served 1,000 Christmas meals to Southern Nevada's homeless and less fortunate. (K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal @kmcannonphoto)
Henderson couple adds another school to their generosity
Bob and Sandy Ellis of Henderson, who donate to several Clark County School District schools, have added Matt Kelly Elementary in Las Vegas to their list of schools where every student gets new shoes, socks and a toy. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like