Mason Lee Lynaugh strolls into the McCombs atrium and takes a seat at one of the many tables scattered around the room. He raises his left arm onto the armrest of the chair, revealing a tattoo of an Eames chair on the inside of his forearm.
“When (the Eames chair) came out, it was so ergonomically well-designed,” Lynaugh said. “It was art. I was raised by designers — my parents were graphic designers, so they had these chairs in the house. I like having it on me because it’s just kind of the way I look at the world. I want to look at the world, like, ‘Let’s solve problems, and let’s make things practically beautiful — the way it’s supposed to be.’ Plus, it reminds me of my childhood.”
Lynaugh is quite comfortable in his own skin. The senior transferred into BHP as a sophomore but decided to take a gap year in 2016 to dedicate himself to his deepest passion: music. Lynaugh’s choice of stepping away from the comfort of being a college student was simple — he couldn’t deny his ardor for his craft.
“I’m pretty determined about things when I choose to do something,” Lynaugh said. “Over winter break (of sophomore year), I made my first actual good song, and I was like, ‘This is awesome. This is what I want to do.’ A lot of people in McCombs are happy, but they always have something under their skin that they really want, and I was like, ‘Why not just actually do it?’ … I was super confident, and it didn’t even seem like a decision — it seemed like just what was going to happen.”
Along with his new lifestyle, Lynaugh also adopted a new name — he released a hip-hop EP titled, “The Last of the Natives,” under the stage name “Mace Lee” on Spotify in early 2017. Aside from being classically trained, Lynaugh taught himself how to make hip-hop music and learned audio engineering on his own. The avid Kanye West fan also attributed his musical skills to studying the practices of his favorite hip-hop artists.
However, Lynaugh didn’t completely put his business mind to rest. Even before releasing his record on Spotify, he realized the importance of marketing himself in order make his music accessible to as many people as possible. In addition to promoting his music on social media, Lynaugh hosted an event on campus last fall to physically launch a mixtape he recorded in 2016. He also performed live shows featuring his own music to further establish himself in the local hip-hop scene.
With a hip-hop record and social media marketing experience under his belt, Lynaugh is now ready to begin his senior year in BHP. After spending a year away from McCombs, he is much more appreciative of the program’s value and of his network of peers.
“When you step out and leave UT, and you get a little slice of life, and that slice of life is cold and has been sitting out in the room for about a day, and you don’t have a microwave — you get to see a very different side of the world and really appreciate things that you didn’t appreciate before,” Lynaugh said. “I came back and realized every class matters. Everything I do here matters … I took for granted the environment and being able to be surrounded by people with similar ambitions.”
Moving forward, Lynaugh plans to channel his colorful palette of skills into a career in consulting. He’s confident that he will find success as a consultant because he appreciates the versatility that is unique to the consulting role.
Out of all the experiences he’s had since arriving on the 40 Acres, Lynaugh believes following his passions has been his biggest takeaway.
“Don’t forget your dreams from high school,” Lynaugh said. “No matter how weird they are, just keep them in mind … At the end of the day, you’re going to need a job, and you might as well find something that’s interesting to you because a lot of times, those dreams can translate.”