What felt like a typical Wednesday to Mason Deakins turned out to be an exciting afternoon when the Dean of Gaylord College or Mass Communications and Journalism at the University of Oklahoma made an unexpected appearance.
Deakins, a senior at Grove High School was working as an office aid during his sixth period, sorting mail and being available to help Principle Renae Dozier as needed. Suddenly, the tune of 'Boomer Sooner' blared in the hallway as Deakins' father, Todd, carried in a boombox, followed by Deakins' mother, Debbie and Dean Ed Kelley.
Surprisingly, Deakins hardly noticed, glancing up and then continuing to work. But the music continued to play. Upon turning around a second time, Deakins realized that it was his family who controlled the music. Dean Kelley invited Deakins to join the family on the other side of the desk and handed him a box. Dean Kelley then asked Deakins to read the first line of the letter inside the box.
"Congratulations on your acceptance to the University of Oklahoma for Fall 2020! Your exemplary academic record and extracurricular activities have been thoroughly reviewed and I enthusiastically welcome you to the OU family," read Deakins.
Deakins comes from a long line of OU graduates, going back to his grandparents. Deakins' oldest sister, Miranda is currently attending OU, marching in the Pride of Oklahoma Marching Band. But that hasn't fully sealed the deal for Deakins.
"I'll probably [apply] at UCO and maybe somewhere else," said Deakins.
Deakins' mother interjected to his statement.
"I don't think you need to apply anywhere else," she said. "This has been the hardest kept secret. He was worried like, 'what if I get waitlisted? People are already starting to get their [acceptance letters]. So being able to know that he has already been accepted [is a relief]."
Despite looking at his options, OU remains Deakins top choice.
"I have a ton of family that goes there and for what I want to study, [OU] has the best program in the state," said Deakins.
It was during the 2018-19 school year that Deakins found a passion for his planned major, graphic arts. Computers 2 teacher Mike Huggins introduced Deakins to Photoshop and programming.
"I just enjoyed the stuff that I worked at and I want to do that because it makes me happy," said Deakins.
Dean Kelley is over five different majors: public relations, advertising, journalism, creative media production and professional writing. The professional writing major, although the smallest major, has been available to students since 1951. Creative media production is the major that covers graphic arts, potentially what Deakins would major in.
"What we like to do for Oklahoma students, for this who live within the boundaries of our great state, just like Mason, they apply early, they are smart kids and they get in," said Dean Kelley.
But Kelley knows that those students also apply to other schools.
"What we like to do at Gaylord College is to try to hand deliver these admission acceptances in the first 80 or 90 days of the fall semester to show the student, and particularly their family, that if you come to OU, particularly to Gaylord College, that the welcome wagon is rolled out as soon as you're admitted. That welcome will continue for the four or five years that you spend with us on campus," said Dean Kelley.
Deakins was amazed by the fanfare that met him in the office.
"[Dean Kelley] seems like a great guy, very nice, I'm very happy to meet him. For him to come down here for me is special," said Deakins. "I was just sorting the mail and I saw my parents. I just thought that they were being crazy, but for the whole ordeal that just happened, it's pretty special."