Mason Bancroft is a first-generation college student. He comes from a low-income family. Grit. Fire. Passion. They are characteristics he has leaned on to get back up when knocked down.
Family. Friends. Mentors. Teachers. They are the ones who, through empathy and caring, have helped Mason when the path was cluttered with obstacles. And he credits them now with helping him reach his first of many post-secondary educational goals.
Mason is graduating from Salt Lake Community College with an associate’s degree in psychology. He’s transferring to the University of Utah this fall to pursue a bachelor’s degree, and then it’s onward toward double PhD degrees in clinical mental health counseling and sports psychology. Drive. Determination. Ambition. Also, words that describe Mason.
On June 26, SLCC graduates, staff, faculty and thousands who would have otherwise filled the Maverik Center in early May for the college’s traditional commencement ceremony will instead go online to hear Mason speak as the outgoing SLCC Student Association president. It’s a moment that will solidify an enduring bond as an SLCC alum for Mason, but also an opportunity to encourage fellow graduates and inspire the next generation of college students.
Mason’s speech is written. He put a lot into it. Here’s a taste. “Never forget those you have helped and those who have helped you. Take the time to share that appreciation with those individuals today. And create a culture of empathy, trust and belongingness. By doing so, you will build a fire inside of you that no one can put out.”
As SLCCSA president this past year, Mason walked the walk. His positive energy and ability to bring people together punctuated campus events he worked on and helped preserve a threatened social network off campus as he guided struggling students through the challenges of a pandemic that forced everyone inside and away from each other. Distant but not alone. It’s what he tried to convey to his fellow students from his makeshift office in the basement of his parents’ home in West Valley City, where he completed his final spring semester at SLCC. A desk and folding chair in the corner, surrounded by a bunch of moving boxes – it’s not how Mason envisioned finishing his time at SLCC. Knocked down, yes – but not out.
“Even though we are isolated from each other, we must understand that we must remain united and help those in need,” Mason said in April, when the pandemic was raging. “In order to get through this stronger, we must find unity within our community. Show and spread empathy.”
This year’s SLCC commencement will unite a virtual community in a ceremony unlike any other in the college’s history. You will hear and see Mason speak. SLCC President Deneece G. Huftalin will offer congratulatory words. The event will have many of the traditional commencement features – and a few surprises. Separate, but not apart. Family. Friends. Teachers. Mentors. They will be there – online. We hope you will be too!
For more information about SLCC’s June 26 online commencement, click here.