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Southwest Association of Student Assistance Programs

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Walter O. Mason Education Foundation

The Walter O. Mason Education Foundation was established in 1988 to honor the legacy of Walter O. Mason, Jr.

Through the generous commitment of the Southwest Association of Student Assistance Programs, the Foundation provides an annual scholarship to support TRIO participants from the states of Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas who have demonstrated a commitment to education and a strong desire for academic success. 

Walter O. Mason, Jr.

Walter O. Mason, Jr. was born on May 5, 1922. He was raised and educated in Oklahoma, earning a Bachelor’s degree from Langston University and a Master’s degree from Oklahoma State University. Later he pursued doctoral studies at the University of Oklahoma.

After a career in secondary education, Walter’s work with TRIO began in 1963 while he was serving as the Executive Director for the Community Action Programs for Oklahoma City and Oklahoma County. It was at this time that he was selected to help draft language contained in the Higher and Continuing Education Act of 1965. 

He was instrumental in the development of Upward Bound, helping to write the first regulations for the program, serving on the committee that selected the program’s name, and assisting in the design of the first Upward Bound logo.

In 1968, while serving as Director of Upward Bound at Oklahoma Baptist University, he met with other Upward Bound Directors in Oklahoma to professionally organize and eventually charter the Oklahoma Division of Student Assistance.

Walter was selected to serve as the Senior Program Officer for Region VI in 1971. In this capacity, he encouraged TRIO personnel to unify because there “was clout in numbers” and strongly urged the formal organization of the states of Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. Under his direction, the Southwest Association of Student Assistance Programs (SWASAP) was founded.  Thanks to his efforts, SWASAP was the first region in the nation to become a viable, professional organization.

Throughout his career, Walter remained vocal about his love of TRIO and willingly shared his knowledge, experience and expertise in order to strengthen the programs. He continued to provide guidance and advice on program management and regulations until his death on August 17, 1986.

2017 Scholarship Recipients



New Mexico: Alma Chavez

Oklahoma: Aspen Schmidt

Texas: Nakita Kabir

Frequently Asked Questions

How are scholarship recipients chosen?

Each respective state is responsible for selecting their own scholarship recipient. It is the individual state’s responsibility to establish selection criteria and verify eligibility.

What is the deadline for selecting a scholarship recipient?

Scholarship recipients should be submitted by November 1 so that checks may be presented to state Presidents at the SWASAP conference.

Our state has selected a scholarship recipient – now what?

Once a scholarship recipient has been selected, please notify the Treasurer and submit the following information:

  •     Recipient Name
  •    TRIO program
  •    Institution

How much is the scholarship award?

Scholarships are awarded in the amount of $500.

When is the scholarship check issued?

Checks are presented to state Presidents at the annual SWASAP conference.

Why are the states within the region asked to contribute?

To sustain the foundation, each state is asked to make a small contribution as a token of support.

How much is the state contribution?

Each state is asked to contribute $250. In return, the Foundation issues a $500 scholarship check.

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