The reigning Miss Tennessee was in her element during a visit to Cleveland and meetings with students at Cleveland Middle School Friday morning.Brianna Mason is a first-grade teacher in the Ravenwood …
The reigning Miss Tennessee was in her element during a visit to Cleveland and meetings with students at Cleveland Middle School Friday morning.
Brianna Mason is a first-grade teacher in the Ravenwood School District in Middle Tennessee and was comfortable meeting with Cleveland Middle School's mentee students, sponsored by the 100 Black Men of Bradley County.
She also spoke and performed for the entire student body and staff, more than 1,400 strong.
Mason, the state first-ever African American Miss Tennessee, interacted with confidence with the mentees, and she even became engaged in a dance routine with which she was unacquainted.
She talked with the mentees about their plans in life and the importance of getting an education and having a plan. She then spoke on the same theme to the remainder of the school's student body in the gymnasium.
She also performed on the piano, showing off her talent from the Miss Tennessee competition.
Mason's message to the students was to focus on education and the challenges of life. Her theme was to "never give up on your dreams."
She presented herself as an example in perserverence.
Growing up in the Nashville area, Mason graduated with honors and then attended the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. It was at UTK where she first became interested in pageantry. That path led her into her first Miss Tennessee competition.
She related that in her first statewide competition, she did not place in the top 15 and received no honors, but a dream was born.
"I decided that my goal (and dream) was to eventually become Miss Tennessee." she said. She also informed the students that the continuation of that pursuit of her dream did not come easy.
"If I had quit after that first pageant, or the second, or the third, I would not be here today (as Miss Tennessee)," she said.
"I did not win," she said of her early competitions, "But I learned and gained experience."
It took her four tries to eventually reach her goal of becoming Miss Tennessee and earning the opportunity to compete in the Miss America competition. She didn't win in her second Miss Tennessee pageant, or her third, but she continued with her dream. She was selected Miss Tennessee on her fourth try, assisted by a wealth of pageantry experience.
That confidence in speaking and performing in front of a large crowd of people, students and adults, was very evident in her visit to Cleveland Middle School Friday.
She also didn't win the Miss America title, but she emphaasized she now has 50 new friends.
Asked about her emotions when her name was finally called as Miss Tennessee, Mason said "I cried my eyelashes off. It was embarrassing, and it's probably on social media somewhere!"
In her presentation to the mentees, and the remainder of Cleveland Middle students, Mason emphasized, "I know you don't like to fail, but it's going to happen. It's part of life."
"You need to make plans (on what you want to achieve and what you want to be). You need to work toward that goal, and those dreams, and never give up," she told the students with emotion.
Miss Tennessee's visit to Cleveland was orchestrated by the 100 Black Men of Cleveland and the organization's Mentee Program at Cleveland Middle School.
The mentees meet early on each Friday morning in one of the school's labs, with variety of guests and visitors for the students to listen to and meet.
Ralph White and Jonathan Porter, current and immediate past presidents of the 100 BMBC, praised the organization's commitment to the program — and its continued success.
It also has become a popular activity for the students, along with meeting the interesting guests, like Miss Tennessee Brianna Mason.
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