Published Thursday May 24, 2018
Mason Hilliard came to Boys State as a rising senior from Greenfield High School in 2014. Little did he know his stay at Tennessee Tech would change his life.
The week he spent on the Cookeville campus learning about state government and what leadership is all about opened several doors a few years later.
“Boys State is very important to me,” said Hilliard. “It is where I started everything here at Tennessee Tech.”
At Boys State, Hilliard ran for supreme court chief justice and swore in the new governor of Boys State during inauguration ceremonies. He then returned to Greenfield High where he kept thinking about his time at Tech.
“I didn’t know where Tennessee Tech was or anything about it until I came here for Boys State in 2014,” said Hilliard. “My senior year, I started thinking about colleges and I came back and toured the campus. It was a comfortable place to be and a comfortable place to learn.”
Hilliard enrolled at Tech in 2015 as a political science major and has made an impact on campus. Last fall, he was crowned Mr. Tennessee Tech and was recently elected president of Tech’s student government association. This week, he has returned to Boys State as a junior counselor.
“It’s a lot different. There is more responsibility,” said Hilliard about being a counselor instead of a delegate. “I get to see things that go on behind the scenes and what it takes to put on Boys State. I get to tell delegates what they need to know. It’s definitely different than being a delegate.”
The Boys State program is being held at Tech this week for the 54th straight year. Delegates have been immersed in learning state government by running a mock 51st state, Boys State. They have been organized political parties and established city, county and state governments by election, complete with primaries and political campaigns. The week concludes on Saturday, with an inauguration ceremony and an address by United States Senator Lamar Alexander.
“I love the government aspect of it,” said Hilliard about Boys State. “I believe we have the best leaders and the best directors and chairman around. It encourages the boys to get out of their comfort zone. There is more than just marching and formations. It is government-oriented and it teaches you a lot about government that everyone needs to know.”
Hilliard says he is taking the leadership aspects he learned at Boys State and applying it to his tenure as SGA president.
“It’s taught me more things about how to be a better leader and how to look into opportunities and situations a little more,” said Hilliard. “One thing I would like to focus on is I want to encourage students to have better communication with the faculty and administration and their advisor. A lot of students aren’t comfortable communicating with faculty or administration. I want to encourage students that they are here to help us succeed.”
For more information on Boys State, go to https://www.tnboysstate.org.