Eric Mason’s road to Nevada State College was not easy. In fact, just five years ago, Eric was wandering the streets of Las Vegas, homeless and hopeless. He was battling an addiction to alcohol and drugs that cost him his job, personal relationships and possessions.
Then he entered a drug rehabilitation facility, and the experience changed his life. He has been in recovery and remained clean and sober ever since. Through his rehabilitation, Eric realized that he wanted to dedicate his life to helping others battling addiction. This goal and the encouragement of his drug counselor brought him to Nevada State College to pursue a psychology degree that would enable him to become an addiction counselor himself. Eric selected Nevada State College because of its commitment to non-traditional students. After all, Eric was in his mid-thirties, unemployed and a recovering addict. Yet, at Nevada State College, he found a safe environment where he could learn and in fact, excel.
This May, Eric graduated Nevada State College Summa Cum Laude with a B.A. in Psychology and a Minor in Counseling. He earned a 3.97 GPA and was nominated as an outstanding student and person by multiple faculty members, earning him the Regents Scholar Award which is bestowed upon one undergraduate from each institution within the Nevada System of Higher Education to recognize academic achievements, leadership ability, and service contributions.
In his commencement speech, Eric spoke about his journey from addiction to graduation. He expressed gratitude to the Nevada State College staff, faculty, and students for all of their support and encouragement that enabled him to make his dreams a reality. And he challenged his fellow graduates to pay it forward to go out into the world and plant your seeds of hope, shower people with encouragement, and see how your seeds for the future blossom.
Eric is living up to his own challenge. He plans to enroll in a Master’s of Social Work program and began an internship at Monte Vista Hospital so he can complete the Certified Alcohol and Dependency Counseling (CADC) program to be a certified drug counselor. He will also serve as an intern at the Nevada Drug Court program, the same program that helped him to turn his life around five years ago. Once he obtains his counseling license next year, Eric looks forward to becoming a full-time counselor to help others battle addiction and turn their lives around. And like the counselor that encouraged him, Eric plans to encourage others to pursue their education at Nevada State College as a means to make their dreams a reality.