Just call him The Franchise.
“I’m like a franchise of SUNY Broome!” explained William Mason, a 2016 graduate from SUNY Broome’s Communications & Media Arts program.
You may have seen him before: His 2016 graduation photo, in which he showed off both his academic pride and sharp suit, made the rounds on the college’s social media and homepage.
A proud Hornet, Mason visits campus every year to connect with the faculty and staff who made such a difference in his life. He pays it forward, too, giving his contact information to new SUNY Broome students in the Educational Opportunity Program and urging them to keep in touch.
“My goal is to help as many people as I can. I know how tough college can be,” said Mason, who went on to earn his bachelor’s from SUNY Oswego. “People who are 18, 19 years old can struggle being on their own. To the best of my ability, I will send you in the right direction.”
A Rochester native, Mason landed a job in his field last November, a month before he earned his bachelor’s. He works as a board operator for Galaxy Media in Syracuse, a radio station that carries ESPN.
“If you listen to a radio show or a sporting event, it’s the people who cut to commercial and tell the hosts how many seconds they got left,” he explained. “The announcer or host has to be as relatable to the people as possible.”
Fun fact: He gave SUNY Broome a shout-out during the Gomez & Lisa in the Morning show, and chatted with the hosts about his famous second cousin — NBA player Damian Lillard.
Changing his life
William Mason has big goals. He wants to become a radio personality, preferably in the sports arena, which has always been a passion. He prefers radio to television – “My facial expressions would get me into so much trouble!” he joked – and is fascinated by the stories that get told, the ones that don’t, and how this choice can influence people’s perspectives.
He hopes to become a positive force. “I’m more interested in trying to get the truth out,” he said.
His vision for the future wasn’t always so broad. After graduating from high school in 2009, he attended two different colleges without success. He then entered the work world, but the jobs he landed offered little in the way of a future.
“I turned 23 and I lost my job due to layoffs. I was living with my parents,” he remembered. “I saw my mom and I started crying. I said, ‘This cannot be life.’”
His mom gave him advice and an offer: Try college again, this time outside of Rochester, and go play for their basketball team. In return, she would pay six months’ rent.
A friend recommended SUNY Broome and Mason made the leap – even though he had never even heard of Binghamton. He tried out for the basketball team under Coach Larry King and made it, and also explored others ways to forge connections with his peers and the campus.
Off the court, he aided Student Activities in many campus events, from intramural sports to the photo booth. He landed a campus job in Admissions, starting off as a file clerk and then answering the phones – a friendly first voice for prospective Hornets. He won awards at the Broome Community College Foundation’s scholarship night – for communications students and for standout student athletes – that later helped him win scholarships at SUNY Oswego.
In short, SUNY Broome helped him transform his life – academically, socially and professionally. That’s why he comes back to visit when he can – and makes sure to catch SUNY Broome’s basketball games against Onondaga Community College every time they’re in Syracuse.
“I met a lot of good people here. Binghamton saved my life,” Mason said. “I saw the bigger picture when I came to SUNY Broome. I still remember the hours of the library.”
He encourages SUNY Broome alumni to stay involved in their alma mater, continuing that vital connection with faculty, staff and the Hornets of the future. In other words – to adopt William Mason’s terminology – to see themselves as part of the franchise.
“I love it here. If SUNY Broome was a four-year college, I would have stayed here,” he said.