As the featured guest at a special Saturday service at Grace Temple Church, the first African-American Miss Tennessee in the 81-year history of the pageant focused on education and hard work as keys to reaching goals and dreams.
“If you can dream it, you can do it,” Mason told the children and adults gathered at the church. “Five years ago, a goal was sparked in me to be Miss Tennessee. The first time I tried, I didn’t make the top 15 and I didn’t win any of the special awards. I left empty-handed. But what I left with was a fire to achieve Miss Tennessee.
“That’s when a dream became a goal and goals are achievable. I can tell you if you set a goal and work super, super hard for it, you can achieve that goal.”
The elementary school teacher had a clear message: “The key, children, is education,” she said. “That is the one thing that no one can take from you.
“What you learn and the support of your teachers, that’s what is going to get you to achieving your goal. But you have to do your homework. You have to pay attention. And you have to mind your teachers.”
And she had one final direction: “Now kiddos, I want you to think really hard. What are your dreams? What is your dream life? What is something you would really like to happen? Then think about what will it take for this dream to be a goal and what is your plan.”
Mason was welcomed by Johnson City Mayor Jenny Brock, who presented her with a city proclamation honoring her for her achievements.
Church members showered her with special music, a stirring dance performance, flowers and small gifts including a shiny, red apple presented in honor or her status as an elementary school teacher.
Angelita Bradley, founder of the Johnson City debutantes program, gave Mason a glowing introduction highlighting the milestone achievements that helped the 23-year-old Nashville resident win her historic title along with the pageant’s talent and onstage interview awards.
A graduate of the University of Tennessee, Mason earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology in 2017 and went on earn her master’s degree in elementary education.
A first-grade teacher at Harwood Elementary School, her pageant platform was children’s literacy. She is also an advocate for the Children’s Miracle Network and for children with autism.
Bradley said Mason’s history making Miss Tennessee title win is also part of the “Black Girl Magic movement that is sweeping the nation,” which for the first time has African American women simultaneously reigning as Miss America, Miss USA and Miss Teen USA.
Appreciation for the accolades and for the hospitality she had received during her time in Johnson City was the first sentiment Mason shared with her audience before talking about turning dreams into goals and goals into achievements.