In the weeks following the death of former University of Maryland student Mason Jayne, friends and family members created a philanthropy event to raise awareness about safe driving, as well as a scholarship in his name.
Jayne, who was a senior history major, was driving in Houston in the early hours of May 26 when his car swayed off the single lane into oncoming traffic, according to a Houston Police Department report. The car then veered off the road and hit a concrete pillar outside of a business. He died at the scene.
Jayne was also a member of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity, which is no longer active at this university, and was friends with many people in the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity. Several Alpha Delta Phi members who knew Jayne are planning a philanthropy event to honor his life and promote safe driving, according to member Kyle Sidney.
“It’s a fundraiser to raise money for first response to vehicular accidents, and raise awareness for safe teenage driving practices,” said Sidney, a senior economics major. “We’re trying to rent out [Riggs Alumni Center] and have a nice dinner, have a few people come out and talk about awareness on the road, about our families, and try to get donations.”
The money raised at the event will go to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, which “conduct[s] research to address growing highway safety issues” and “identif[ies] traffic safety problems, foster[s] research that seeks solutions and disseminate[s] information and educational materials,” according to its website.
Jayne was the third student who went to this university to die within a two-week period this May. Mark Palmarella, a senior and Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity member, died May 15. Kaley Smith, a recent graduate and Delta Delta Delta sorority member, died May 19, also from a single-vehicle car accident.
Due to the losses faced by this university’s Greek community, Sidney said his fraternity hopes to team up with other Greek organizations affected by these tragic events in putting together and promoting the event.
Jayne’s parents are also spearheading a scholarship fund in his name, along with university professor Jason Nichols and potentially a Bellaire High School representative. Their son loved his high school and his time at this university, so the scholarship will help Bellaire graduates afford this university if admitted. The scholarship focuses on three groups: Bellaire students attending this university, Houston high school graduates attending this university and Bellaire students attending college out-of-state.
“Our intentions for the scholarship are varied,” Christopher Jayne said. “Do you need money to come home for the holidays? Mason loved coming home on the holidays. Do you need money for books? Tell us what you need the money for, and we’ll dispense it accordingly.”
Christopher Jayne said the scholarship reflects his son’s giving personality, saying administrators from his high school shared stories at his funeral about his generosity from when he was a student at Bellaire and after he graduated. Mason Jayne’s actions stuck with them enough that some of Bellaire’s administrative staff attended the funeral four years later.
The scholarship is intended to start in the upcoming fall semester, Christopher Jayne said. They have already raised more than $5,000 from friends and family alone.
“Because Mason was so kind and so giving, that’s why we wanted to do it for Bellaire students first going to [the University of] Maryland,” Christopher Jayne said. “Kindness and loyalty are two words that sum up Mason’s 21-plus years of life, and that’s really the basis of this scholarship.”
Mason Jayne’s honesty and loyalty had a large effect on people who knew him, leading 20 friends from this university to fly to Texas for his funeral, as well as one of his former professors, Nichols, Sidney said.
His loyalty also translated into his dedication to Houston sports for “basically all of his life,” his father noted. In honor of Mason Jayne’s devotion to his hometown teams, Sidney said he and more of his friends are trying to get a team-signed Houston Texans football jersey to give to his parents.
Mason Jayne also loved to rap, Sidney added, saying his rap name was “Young Mase,” and that he was just starting to create and share more music before his death.
“He loved to be different,” Sidney said. “He liked to be known as himself, [and] I think a lot of people appreciated how genuine he was.”
Mason Jayne’s friend and former roommate, Joshua Pearlman, rushed Tau Kappa Epsilon with him and said his friend’s kindness was the reason he stayed at this university. Pearlman tore his ACL the summer before his sophomore year, leaving him on crutches and struggling to do everyday activities such as climbing up the stairs and going to classes.
“Mason was the kid who was there for me,” he said. “I could wake up at 2 a.m. in the middle of the night, freaking out because I was parched, and Mason would go downstairs to get me a glass of water or help me get to the bathroom.”
The philanthropy event and scholarship will help Mason Jayne’s legacy live on, Sidney said.
“From the second I met him to the last time I saw him, he was always the same kid,” Sidney said. “Always smiling, just bringing good vibes, and I think that’s how a lot of people remember him.”