As a child, Mahoney knew only the “alternately peaceful rural living and intensely frightful times of war” of southern Vietnam. He came to Oregon via Pakistan and the Philippines, where his adoptive father, employed by the State Department, had been stationed. He says he fell in love with Willamette immediately.
His college experience was a springboard. Since graduating, he has become a renowned musician (studying under professor John Doan), award-winning filmmaker and philanthropist. In 2002 he started the Village School Foundation, a nonprofit that has since built seven schools in Vietnam and given out 500 scholarships. Today he is at work on a new feature film and a fifth studio album, which will explore the renewed love he feels for the country he had to leave behind four decades ago.