Gifts totaling $350,000 to benefit student veterans

Helping student veterans succeed is the goal of two recent donations to ECU totaling $350,000.

The gifts will help the Student Veteran Services office in the ECU Division of Student Affairs. As of fall 2019, more than 860 student veterans and almost 700 military dependents were enrolled at ECU. One of the gifts will fully fund the ECU Veteran to Scholar Bridge Program, which helps ease veterans’ transition to campus life and coursework before classes start. Mason (who goes by one name) and his wife, Kim Mason, of Fort Worth, Texas, pledged $250,000 over five years for the bridge program, as well as two annually funded Warrior Scholar student scholarships and a scholarship endowment.

“Our purpose is to give a hand up and not a handout,” Mason said. “As business owners, military service proved to be a key indicator of loyalty, dependability, dedication and accountability when searching and selecting team members. Our hope is that the grant helps ease the pain and aids veterans in continuing their formal education.”

Mason served in the Marine Corps from 1974 to 1978 before earning a degree in business administration from ECU. He said he passed the CPA exam on his first sitting because of the dedication of ECU faculty members.

“I will always be thankful for the sincere interest that all of the professors and staff took in my journey,” Mason said. “My education at ECU was a major factor in business success, almost as important in partnering with my wife, which has provided the means to fund the veterans grant.” Mason’s father served in the Navy, his uncle served in the Marine Corps, and Kim’s father served in the Army.

In addition, Betty Beacham of Greenville recently gave $100,000 to name the SVS lounge in Mendenhall Building and to support scholarships and programs for veterans. Beacham has spent 25 years at ECU, where she has been engaged in service and outreach to eastern North Carolina as director of the STEM-Corps East and Teacher Quality Partnership programs. She has developed and managed AmeriCorps and VISTA programs to provide tutoring and mentoring for K-12 students in the region.

“This commitment to service also defines my personal life,” Beacham said. “It was a natural next step for me to support our ROTC and student veterans by providing educational scholarships. Being able to help our students in this way is very rewarding.”

For SVS, the donations will provide much-needed scholarships and resources for student veterans. “Opportunities for scholarships are an incredibly important feature of a military-friendly university,” said Nicole Jablonski, associate director of SVS. “Scholarships diminish the need for students to take out loans and help ensure they finish the degree they wish to complete.”