As long as she can remember, 17-year-old Deja Mason has had her eyes set on attending a black college, following a path set by her parents, who attended North Carolina Central University, and a brother who attended Morehouse College.
But the “Blue Envelope” still scared her.
The “Blue Envelope” is legendary in black college circles as admittance into Spelman College.
Her family hid the envelope from her, before devising a ruse to rush her to church one Sunday. Cameras in hand, they handed her the mail to sort.
In it was the envelope, welcoming her to the 137th class of Spelman College.
“You got the blue envelope,” her father Donald Mason shouted. “Do you know how many young ladies covet that?”
“I didn’t think I would be as shocked as I was. I was like, ‘I got in,’” said Mason, a National Honor Society graduate from Mill Creek High School in Gwinnett County. “I didn’t think I would cry. But in the moment, I got a little emotional.”
Earlier this year, as part of a series on historically black colleges and universities, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution profiled Mason’s older sister, Delanie Mason and her decision to attend Kennesaw State University instead of following her family’s path toward an HBCU.
Delanie Mason bucked family tradition, because she felt more comfortable in a more diverse environment. And she was attracted by the price of attending a public school in Georgia that would be partially paid for by the HOPE scholarship.
But in an interview with the AJC as part of the story, Deja Mason, said Spelman, which annually ranks as one of the best black colleges in the nation, was always in her sights. She plans to major in English and double minor in political science and pre-law.
“Spelman was the first school I officially got accepted into. It was my first choice and it was the first school that reached out to me,” said Deja Mason, who was later accepted at Agnes Scott College and Georgia State University. “I am happy that I am going on an HBCU. But I am also happy that I am going to a woman’s college that is full of black women who look like me.”
At Deja Mason’s graduation last Wednesday, her mother Teresa, the former Miss North Carolina Central University, and her father, Donald, a middle school principal in Atlanta, beamed as her name was called among the honor graduates. In the front yard of their Duluth home, a giant sign read: “Congratulations!! Deja. L. Mason. 2018 Honor Graduate. Mill Creek High School. Spelman College.”
“Spelman has always been her dream,” Donald Mason said. “Now, we just got to figure out how to pay for it. God help us.”