Berna Mason, 1978 CEW Scholar
“I start tearing up every time I think of CEW because they were so kind to me.”
“My life has really been full.” No one who knows Berna Mason could ever question that statement. Leaving Cass Technical High School in Detroit in 1947 to get married, Berna never lost hope that she might someday continue her studies. Even as a housewife with 5 children, Berna succeeded in getting her GED and took some community college classes. She worked in real estate and sold insurance. She was very active in the Civil Rights struggle, traveling to the south where she was arrested for sitting at lunch counters and drinking from the “whites only” drinking fountains. “In Detroit, I had the right to vote and I never had to ride in the back of the bus. I felt that helping in the Civil Rights movement with Judge Kaufman and Reverend Franklin was something I just had to do.”
With her children grown and after the death of her husband in 1976, Berna came to CEW for help in gaining admission to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. “They understood me at CEW. Being an older woman and coming from the inner city, the University was very strange to me. CEW gave me a place to go and talk with people my age who understood me.” In 1978, Berna was a CEW scholarship award recipient. “I was really proud of that, and I felt that everyone at CEW was glad that I won that award.”
At Michigan, Berna received both her bachelor’s degree in business education and her masters in education administration. Berna was the Director of Admissions and Financial Aid to Jordan College in Flint. She went on to teach at Washtenaw Community College, Marygrove College, and the Birmingham Michigan Public Schools. In Lansing, Berna was an employment counselor with the Michigan Employment Security Commission, and later a department analyst with the State of Michigan’s Office of Finance and Administrative Services.
Even with such a long and outstanding career, why is it that CEW is so dear to Ms. Mason? “I’m proud that I am self-sufficient. I have a pension and social security. I wouldn’t have those without my education. I owe all that to the University of Michigan and CEW.”