Pepsi and Essence host star-studded tailgate; Kicks off HBCU initiative

Leenika Belfield-Martin | Lifestyle Editor

HU Tailgate Pepsi-32

Photo Credit: Hampton Athletic Marketing

Pepsi and Essence joined forces to bring students and alumni the ultimate tailgate experience with guest appearances from Kash Doll, Rotimi, D.J. Envy and more on October 26. This event kicks off the launch of their initiative celebrating black women called “She Got Now.”

“Homecoming is a special time for us and to have two power house brands like Pepsi and ESSENCE on campus recruiting, supporting and honoring the young Black women we develop here at Hampton, is phenomenal,” said President Dr. William R. Harvey in a university press release.

From noon to seven at night the lawn behind Martin Luther King Hall was transformed into an outdoor stage accompanied with various tents from alumni groups, Bumble, Pepsi and Essence.

Media personalities Scottie Beam and Gia Peppers lead the crowd in various activities like a “Hampton’s got talent” competition, a Beyonce dance-off, and the HBCU staple swag surf. Both returning Hamptonians and current students were impressed by the event.

Like Angelo Burstion travelled over three hours to attend this year’s homecoming with his wife, son and daughter Giavanni who is also graduated from Hampton. The two say that while the student body is different from when they went to Hampton, it’s still the same family feeling.

“It’s important to come back and celebrate,” said Giavanni Burstion. “It’s a whole different type of culture, something you can really enjoy and immerse yourself in.”

Angelo Burstion’s love for his alma mater spread so far that he even named his son after the school: Hampton. The alumn said that creating a legacy at the university is something very important to him.

“Legacy, it’s everything,” he said. “I always tell my kids that our last name is all we got and it’s about pride, professionalism, and hard work. That’s all stuff that I learned here.”

Giavanni, who graduated as Quintessence 9, also said she gained appreciation for the not only Hampton, but HBCU’s in general.

“I didn’t think legacy was all that important until I came here. Now I want my kids to come here because it’s just something really different.”

Alumni weren’t the only ones enjoying the festivities. Freshmen who were making the most out of their first curfew-free weekend also took part in the tailgate. While mixing and mingling with the returning Hamptonians, the freshmen gained a sense of excitement to one day be in their shoes.

“It’s just cool to see the alumni come back and see that one day that’ll be us when we come back to our home by the sea,” said freshman Nakhyla Ligonde.

Besides the performances, guest appearances and giveaways, alumni and students were appreciative of Pepsi’s and Essence’s efforts to highlight black women and help create a space for them in the workplace.

“It’s amazing. We don’t really get this opportunity all the time, especially as young black women.” said freshman Martinee Williams

“For HBCU’s to continue to have partnerships like this,” Angelo Burstion said.“It’s important to team up with organizations like this to get us in different boardrooms, get us more funding and to make us be more relevant.”

Hampton isn’t the only school recieving a tailgate takeover. The tour has already hit Howard’s Homecoming, and will be travelling down to Norfolk State University and Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University for their homecomings. The cross-country tailgate tour is only the start of the “She Got Now” initiative a “multi-tiered platform celebrating black women of the past, present and future.”

At the end of Homecoming season, the two companies will be launching the Allen McKellar Jr. Internship Program, named after the first Black professional to work in the corporate Pepsi offices.

The internship will be open to women who aspire to or currently attend one of the partner schools.Those interested can find more information by following Pepsi’s and Essence’s social media pages.


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