Ask someone for a definition of success, and you'll get several answers: a big house, an expensive car, a prestigious job.
For Marsha Mason, a business major at The University of Texas-Pan American, success is becoming a bank executive.
As a reward for her dedication and commitment to a college education, Mason recently received a scholarship and internship from Texas State Bank in McAllen. She's using the opportunity as a stepping-stone to her career goals.
"I was telling my mom the other day that I always wanted to work in an office wearing a suit with a big window behind me," Mason said. "Ever since I was small, I always pictured myself doing that, and so far I think I'm on the right track."
The $1,000 scholarship from Texas State Bank can be renewed if qualifications are met. This includes being a full-time student with a minimum of 45 hours toward a bachelor's of business administration degree and having an interest in banking.
"When you have 10 very qualified candidates, it's hard to make a decision," Victor Huerta, Business Development Center associate director at UTPA said. "You have to determine if this individual is going to become a team player. Does this individual possess the education and the maturity to grow into a position within the organization and pursue a career in financial management and banking? It's obvious The Texas State Bank Selection Committee felt she met all the criteria they were looking for in a future executive."
And as a part-time employee, Mason has learned to shine. "She has very good people skills," said Yvonne Trevino, TSB first vice president and trust officer. "She has a very good rapport with the staff and good computer skills."
Mason also can fluently speak and write Spanish. Consequently, she assists Mexican clients with transactions and correspondence.
"Marsha has been able to assist us with translating correspondences from English to Spanish, which has been a definite plus for our department," Trevino said. Outside of Texas State Bank, Mason concentrates on maintaining her grades, traveling, participating in school competitions and other activities. That leaves little time to relax, and even when she does, she reminds her brother about the importance of setting goals and working towards a good education.
"I tell him to study as much as he can," she said. "If he has time to do a little extra, it will pay off. It might not pay off immediately, but he'll see that when it comes time for tests, when he's looking for a scholarship or wants to apply to graduate school, things will come easier."
Mason is a member of Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE), a UTPA College of Business Administration organization where students learn and practice skills to promote business and free enterprise across the Rio Grande Valley. Last year, the SIFE team competed nationally against 700 institutions, finishing in sixth place.
"One of the things I see about Marsha is her discipline," said Dr. Gilbert Cardenas, UTPA economics professor. "She's a hard worker, but she also works very well with people. She's a team player."
SIFE has taken its love of marketing and other business skills into Valley colonias, meeting individually with families about starting a business.
Mason has taught children entrepreneurship, business math and the importance of a high school diploma. She also encourages them to attend college and follow their dreams.
"What's interesting about her, given her age, is that she's already accomplished a lot," Cardenas said. "She's always focused and very mature for her age, and I think it has a lot to do with her upbringing. I've met her parents, and they're very supportive."
Indeed, Mason knows firsthand of her parent's encouragement. "My dad never gets tired of telling me I'm the pride of his life," she said.