The Washington Post

Lester Mason: Forging his own path

On the day the scholarships were announced at Seat Pleasant, Lester Mason, a burly fifth-grader, wondered why the adults were screaming. Was that his mother crying?

The scholarship, his parents kept reminding him, meant he had to keep up with his homework and pay attention to his teachers.

“You understand that this is a big deal?” Lester Mason’s mother asked him. “You need to settle down and get into your books.”

In their household, the plan was that Lester would become the first Mason to attend college. He would become Lester Mason, Esquire.

But after graduating from Northwestern High School in 1995, Lester didn’t last a semester at the University of Maryland. He felt overwhelmed by the work, the freedom, the number of students — everything. He wanted someone to tell him what to do, down to the smallest detail. But there was no one. He foundered.

Tracy Proctor, the mentor to the Seat Pleasant 59, suggested that Lester try Prince George’s Community College. Same results.

Lester brought his transcript to show his parents how poorly he had done. He told them he would not be the first Mason to go to college. He would not become a lawyer.

“You can do it,” his mother said. “I know you can do it.”

“No, I cannot,” he replied. “And I don’t want to.”

Instead Lester, who is married and has a child, learned how to repair elevators. Today, his business is thriving, he says. Not long ago, he ran into Proctor at a 7-11 during a coffee run. Lester hugged his old mentor and later called Proctor. He wanted advice on how to expand his business.

Show Comments
Washington Post Subscriptions

Get 2 months of digital access to The Washington Post for just 99¢.

A limited time offer for Apple Pay users.

Buy with
Cancel anytime

$9.99/month after the two month trial period. Sales tax may apply.
By subscribing you agree to our Terms of Service, Digital Products Terms of Sale & Privacy Policy.

Get 2 months of digital access to The Washington Post for just 99¢.

Most Read


Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Close video player
Now Playing
Read content from allstate
Content from Allstate This content is paid for by an advertiser and published by WP BrandStudio. The Washington Post newsroom was not involved in the creation of this content. Learn more about WP BrandStudio.
We went to the source. Here’s what matters to millennials.
A state-by-state look at where Generation Y stands on the big issues.