Mason Gray knows he cannot change the world single-handedly.
But the Grain Valley High School senior knows that he can make a difference in the lives of people he encounters – especially youngsters, like his brother Kyle, who deals with Type 1 diabetes, Tourette syndrome and celiac disease, an immune reaction to eating gluten.
Gray wants to become a pediatric surgeon and is well on his way to achieving that dream as he will enter Wichita State University in the fall with nearly a year’s worth of college credits after taking classes at Truman Medical Center Lakewood, and advanced placement chemistry, biology and pre-calculus classes at the high school.
He arrived back at Grain Valley High School Thursday afternoon just in time for weight training in preparation of the Eagles upcoming track and field season after spending the day job shadowing at Dr. Brad Mouse’s office in Grain Valley, where he spent most of the day following a phlebotomist, learning how to draw blood.
“I know I can’t help Kyle, because he’s 14 and already has all of his medical issues,” Gray said, “but if I help someone at any age change their life through surgery or some kind of medical procedure, I want to do that. I really want to do that so kids don’t have to go through what my brother goes through on a daily basis.”
Statements like that helped Gray attract the attention of principal Jeremy Plowman.
“Mason has always been a different kind of leader,” Plowman said. “He follows his own path. If there's something he thinks is right or interesting, he's going to pursue it nonstop.”
And Plowman is blown away by Gray’s work ethic in and out of the classroom.
“No student is going to work harder to succeed than Mason, and he is such a highly intelligent kid that he is fun to be around. He can be serious, but he can have fun, too.”
Almost as if on cue, Gray does an impromptu dance in the principal’s office that cracks both of them up.
“He’s a leader, he loves his brother and his family, and he is serious about making good grades, but making good grades (does) not dictate his life. Grades aren’t life and death with him, yet he makes amazing grades and scored very high on the PSAT (Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test) test.”
Mason politely interrupts and adds, “Grades are subjective. Grades are very important to me, but a lot of other things are very important to me, too – like my family and having a great senior year.”
"Probably more important than how he does grade-wise is just how curious he's intellectually,” Plowman says. “He wants to learn.”
And Gray owns a weighted 3.9 GPA.
“I work hard to make good grades, but I want to have a complete life out of school, and luckily I have been able to do both,” Gray said, before heading off to weight training.
“I love my life, I really do,” he adds, “and I want to help everyone – especially kids dealing with medical issues – love their life too. That’s why I’m working hard. Like you said, one kid at a time!”