Mason Mahoney knows only one speed: full speed ahead. She has taken advantage of her academic and internship opportunities to gain knowledge, experience, and perspective that will positively shape her future.

Mason graduated last May from the UArizona W.A. Franke Honors College with a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy, Politics, Economics, & Law (PPEL), including a minor in Criminology. She will earn an accelerated master’s in Philosophy, Politics, & Economics in May 2024.

Mason is also working this semester as a Research Assistant in the Decision and Economic Sciences Laboratory, directed by Mary L. Rigdon, Freedom Center Director and Associate Professor in the Department of Political Economy and Moral Science. She is helping support Dr. Rigdon’s continued research on gender competitiveness in the workplace.

Students Mason Mahoney and Jai Singh
Cato Institute Summer Interns Mason Mahoney and Jai Singh

Mason participated in the Cato Institute Summer Internship program this past summer, working on two teams. As part of the Criminal Justice team, she worked with leading scholars and activists to research legal briefs, respond to injustices perpetrated by the system, and support legislative outreach.

“The Criminal Justice team helped me gain a wider perspective of the system,” Mason said. “We had scholars who were public defenders or had gone to law school and become policy experts. They would ask me questions to help me think critically and gain perspective on an issue. The work was challenging, and the rewards were great.”

The Cato Institute is a public policy research organization dedicated to individual liberty, limited government, free markets, and peace. Their scholars and analysts conduct independent, nonpartisan research on various policy issues. They believe that social and economic freedom is the best policy for a free people and an indispensable framework for the future. (Placement | Cato Institute)

Mason was also part of the team, learning about the history and philosophy of liberty and helping people gain an appreciation for their freedom and a newfound respect for the freedom of others. The work on these issues was full-time, but the opportunities Mason seized went far beyond.

“The great thing about the Cato internship was being able to work with 30 other interns in various departments beyond my own,” she said. “I heard about their work and participated in fascinating and thought-provoking discussions. Hearing from scholars and experts across the ideological spectrum, asking them questions, and learning from their experiences allowed me to develop my beliefs, which I found very rewarding.”

Mason, originally from Phoenix, had previous experience in criminal justice working for the Pima County Attorney’s Office in the Victim Services Division, which supports, educates, and empowers victims and survivors to seek justice that helps restore them to as nearly whole as possible. (Victim Services – Pima County Attorney’s Office)

“I would attend the morning calendar, monitor cases, and talk to victims to answer their questions and provide support,” she said. “I also interacted with prosecutors and victim advocates to ensure they were informed and in the best possible position to perform their jobs. I’ve learned much about the legal system from my internship, this opportunity, and my UArizona education.”

Perhaps the most significant benefit from Mason’s academic and internship experiences is that she now sees a world of opportunities beyond what she previously envisioned. She knows she wants to focus on policy but is keeping her options open.

“I think tech policy would be an exciting area, and I want to get some work experience after I graduate before considering law school or perhaps a Master of Business Administration,” she concluded.

Given her energy, skills, and academic achievements, Mason will undoubtedly achieve her goals and positively impact society. She already has.