SGA Addresses Student Mental Health Concerns With Spring Wellness Days

Nicole Pechacek | Staff Writer

Photo courtesy of Jaeyoung Geoffrey Kang on Unsplash)

In hopes to give students a day not only to relax but focus on their mental health, the Student Government Association (SGA) helped implement scheduled Wellness Days. These days will allow students to catch a break from their busy day-to-day learning. 

Many students have probably wondered how such a program came to pass. 

To help give a better understanding as to how things work within SGA, both the President, Austin Sams, and the Vice President, Kimberlee-Mykel Thompson, agreed to discuss both the implementation of mental health days and give an inside look at how ideas and programs are brought up to the administration. 

Inspiration for the wellness days initiative came from a fellow HBCU, according to SGA Vice President Thompson. 

“One of the SGA senators had seen it at North Carolina A&T, and she brought it up and thought it would be a good idea. From there, I took it and pitched the idea to Dr. Harvey,” she explained. 

While SGA has been a large part of student advocacy at Hampton, many students aren’t very aware of its inner workings, especially how ideas become full-fledged programs. 

“For this specific program, we had administrative meetings where the class officers have the opportunity to meet with Dr. Harvey and Dr. Inman,” Thompson said. “Oftentimes, these meetings are ways for them to update us, and we have a brief amount of time to let them know what’s going on in our classes in this virtual climate. There, we have the opportunity to present ideas, critiques, anything of the sort to help them run the university better, so that’s where wellness days were brought up.” 

With the pandemic still going on and people staying indoors, mental health has been a consistent issue amongst students. When asked how these days would fix this issue, Thompson explained how they can help students relieve stress and take needed breaks. 

“A lot of students complained to us that in the first semester, we had this 15-week straight semester where we had almost no breaks, and it just felt exhausting,” she shared. “Hopefully, especially in addition to spring break this semester, we’ll be able to get a break and not feel like we go to the same computer every day.” 

While SGA has managed to work despite the pandemic, things have been very different for the organization. SGA President Austin Sams said social media was a big reason as to how they have been so successful. 

“We’ve been fortunate in my opinion, to be able to be connected and meet students where they are and offer any support we can virtually,” he shared. 

With the successful implementation of wellness days, SGA plans to add more mental health initiatives in the future. 

 “Ingraining the mental health days into the university’s calendar was a big step in not only acknowledging the importance of mental health but making it a part of our actual practices of the university,” said SGA President Sams. “We’re also pushing to do mental health initiatives and partnering with different organizations either on-campus or off-campus to drive the whole mental health awareness and importance home for students, not just virtually but even when they come back on campus.”

SGA President Sams also confirmed there will be another virtual town hall and professional development programming in the coming semester. 

Wellness days will hopefully give students time to evaluate and take care of themselves during this tumultuous time. With more programs incoming, mental health awareness at Hampton is bound to increase.

Founder’s Day 2021: Celebrating 128 Years of Hampton University’s History Virtually

Noa Cadet | Staff Writer

Image taken by Matthew White in 2019, Director of University Relations.

The year 2021 is in full swing! As students and faculty dive back into the new semester and yet another virtual one, a lingering question remains unanswered. How is the University going to handle all of its important events? Are we still going to have them, or are we going to skip them until next year? 

As Hampton’s 128th Founder’s Day rapidly approaches, Hampton University has answered the call to action with a plan. 

In previous years, Hampton University has celebrated Founder’s Day on campus during the last Sunday of January, with students and faculty coming together to celebrate how far Hampton has come from its humble beginnings as an institute, to the university that it is today. 

In years past, the ceremony has always begun at the gravesite of Hampton University’s founder, General Samuel Chapman Armstrong. Before an audience of people wishing to pay respects, President Dr. William R. Harvey usually starts the ceremony by laying a wreath at the site, followed by acknowledgments of General Armstrong’s life and accomplishments. In particular, acknowledgments of all the obstacles that he had to overcome in order to start a school for minorities in the post-Civil War era, where racial tensions were at an all-time high following the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863. 

After paying proper respects to General Armstrong, the ceremony usually proceeds with a twenty-one gun salute, music, and a ceremony held in the Chapel, where special guests are often invited to speak.

Hampton’s 126th Founders’ Day was particularly special in which it marked the unveiling of Legacy Park, a grand array of statues located outside of the Chapel, depicting a wide variety of historical figures that impacted both Hampton University’s history and black history as a whole, from Rosa Parks to President Harvey himself. 

However, this year’s Founder’s Day is proving to be a bit different from most. Given that both Hampton students and faculty are not on campus directly, what is to become of Founder’s Day this year? 

Dr. Karen Turner Ward, Old Dominion Endowed Chair of Fine and Performing Arts and Chair of the Committee of Ceremonial Occasions at Hampton University, is able to answer that question and shed some light on how to capture that feeling of celebration and remembrance, even without being on campus. 

This year, Hampton University’s Founder’s Day will still be held on the last Sunday of January and will be held virtually. According to Dr. Ward, the virtual experience will be made accessible on Hampton University’s website, available to be accessed live by students, faculty, and the Hampton community as a whole. It will also be made available after the event’s conclusion via recordings. 

Dr. Ward, in a personal interview, stressed her love for Founder’s Day as a symbol of togetherness and remembrance and stated that although Founder’s Day will not be an in-person ceremony as it usually is, she still wants to make it as special as possible so as to keep the emotion alive. 

When asked if she thinks it’s important for students and faculty to remain connected in events such as this, Dr. Ward answered,” Oh absolutely. And especially for events like this. In a time in which we are facing such horrific numbers with this pandemic, our lives are being touched at every moment. It is important to pause and celebrate all the goodness in life. I hope everyone will come together and view the ceremony, for it will truly be a special occasion.”

As students, and just as members of the community, we should all make the attempt to celebrate another chapter in Hampton University’s history, and to just enjoy a day of unity and fellowship in these challenging times.

Tackling Today’s Issues: We.TalkAboutIt Talks Politics with Virginia’s Elected Representatives

Raven Harper | Section Editor

Photo courtesy of Aditya Vyas

When it came to this year’s presidential election, everything was on the ballot. Healthcare, the criminal justice system, the economy, education, and COVID-19 to name a few. In hopes to discover how elected officials are tackling these issues, We Talk About Its’ Yordanos Belayneh and Bailey Smith hosted ‘Let’s Talk Politics,’ an open and informative conversation with elected officials, Congresswoman Elaine Luria and Congressman Bobby Scott in late October. 

Sparked from a heated debate in Hampton’s cafeteria one day, third-year students and friends, Mason Cardwell, Yordanos Belayneh, Bailey Smith, Cole Pryor, Darius Henderson, Amber Harvey, Terell Arlington, and Jenai LaGarde created We Talk About It. Built to create stimulating and open conversations about a wide array of topics, the talk show prides itself on the diversity among its hosts as well as the different opinions that come with them. Just recently, their talk show made it to IHeartRadio. 

In a new segment entitled ‘Let’s Talk Activism’, Belayneh and Smith invited Virginia’s 2nd congressional district representative, Elaine Luria, and Virginia’s 3rd congressional district representative, Robert ‘Bobby’ Scott to their event ‘Let’s Talk Politics.’ 

Held via zoom on October 16th, the show’s purpose was to hear from two elected officials that represent Hampton students in Virginia on what they are currently doing from an insider’s perspective to solve these issues. 

Being in a state filled with various colleges and universities, the event kicked off in a discussion about the current pandemic’s effect on college campuses and what it is going to take to effectively and safely reopen. 

Congresswoman Luria mentioned how funding is the major thing that is going to help with colleges reopening safely. 

“We recognize that for colleges and universities to adapt during the time of COVID, that had a huge price tag to it,” Luria stated. “We want to make sure through legislation like the CARES Act and if we can come to another COVID relief package that it continues to include money and funds for higher education to do testing, etc.” 

The conversation then continued, touching on the current initiatives and legislation both Representatives Luria and Scott are currently working on such as; the George Floyd Policing

Act, the College Affordability Act, and the PROAct. These various legislations were made to address community policing, the growing wealth gap, and student loans. 

Focusing on the largest issues affecting the people they have been chosen to represent, Luria and Scott both agreed that their hopes for the next administration are that their work can continue. 

“Working with an administration who will be working with us, not against us on all of these [initiatives and legislations], will certainly be a delight,” Scott said. 

Towards the end of the event, host Belayneh and Smith opened the floor up for questions from the live audience in attendance. In response to a student sharing their discouragement to vote after watching the recent presidential debates, Congressman Scott shared how that should be the exact thing that inspires them to vote. 

“I don’t know why anybody would be discouraged,” Scott stated. You ought to be activated to vote. 

As the event came to a close, people in attendance were left with greater insight on what their elected officials are currently working on to fight for citizens like themselves. Host Yordanos Beleyaneh also left attendees with an encouraging message, urging them to go out in vote on November 3. 

“To the young adults, as the future of tomorrow, it is our duty to stand up for change. The revolution starts with us. So why not act now?” Beleyaneh stated. To hear more discussions like this, follow Let’s Talk About It on Instagram @we.talkaboutit. You can also find them through their podcasts on Spotify, WeHeartItRadio, and Youtube.

You Voted, Now What? HBCUs Band Together to Discuss Post-Election Political Activism

Noa Cadet | Staff Writer

Picture credit: Katie Rodriguez on Unsplash

The 2020 Presidential Election season has sparked a fire within America like no other. Motivated by a need to be represented in the political arena, millions of Americans rallied to place their votes in for the next President of the United States, who is now Joe Biden. However, does a push for change in this country end with who becomes the President? Not when it concerns Hampton University’s Political Science Club. 

 On Monday, November 7th at 7 p.m EST, Hampton University, joined by several other HBCUs including but not limited to Texas Southern, Dillard, Jackson State, Norfolk State, and more, held a joint event, “You Voted! Now What?” That evening, the schools discussed what to do to ensure change post-election. 

The event hit the ground running with an impactful message from a special guest, U.S. Representative Bennie Thompson of Mississippi’s 2nd congressional district. He advised students to remain involved past the election date and to continue to stay active in one’s community, for local politics directly influence the area in which one lives. 

“You don’t disengage, you stay engaged,” Representative Thompson said. “In a democracy, you stay involved.” 

From there, the conversation started on the matter of political efficacy, which is the measure of citizens’ trust in their influence upon politics and policy. Students from various HBCUs agreed that the best move to make after the election is to remain involved, be aware of your local representatives, and ultimately assimilate yourself within the community. By becoming involved in your local community, you can keep abreast of changes to policy and have a better understanding of how potential bills can impact the area in which you live. 

The consensus amongst Hampton students, as well as other HBCU students attending, was that while voting is a very important part of maintaining your voice, it is just as important to make sure your elected officials are aware that they have a responsibility to the people first. 

The second topic of the night was that of voter registration and, more specifically, voter suppression. A recurring problem regarding election seasons on their own, voter suppression has become even more important to talk about this election because of its popularity and how stressed voting has become. Event attendees were challenged to name as many possible sources

of voter Suppression there are, in which things as broken poll machinery, Exact Match laws, and lack of accessible voting stations were named. 

To solve this, HBCU representatives at this event offered volunteering at voting stations so that there was more personnel for more voting areas to open up, thus increasing accessibility. Also, lobbying against Exact Match laws was suggested, as exact signature match laws can easily result in an invalid vote if your signature has changed from the one listed on your registration. 

Overall, perhaps the most important discussion of the night was when the conversation switched to institutionalized racism. How best to be protected in a country that wasn’t originally meant to protect black citizens and how to make your voice heard when elected officials fail to represent you. 

As we live in a time in which racial tensions are high, and acts of violence against black people and minorities, in general, are becoming more and more common, the HBCU representatives present at the event stressed that unity amongst black people is key. Now more than ever, it is imperative to band together and ensure that everyone is made aware of the black voice. Whether it be police brutality against a black man or a black woman or a case of social injustice, the black community should band together to support change on all fronts. 

With this in mind, the conversation shifted back to activism, and the idea of holding elected officials responsible. From knowing who your representatives are to holding them accountable, we can ensure that our representatives represent the people, looking out for our interests, instead of working for their own. 

As the event closed, the HBCU attendees advised each other to make sure that they are aware of their representatives through apps like Causes, an app that lets you know who your representatives are and how to contact them. They made it clear that while voting and the election is a wonderful first step, it is not the only step. We must continue the fight for the change that we want. We fight today so that tomorrow is easier.

The Votes Are In: Hampton Students React to the 2020 Presidential Election Results

Vashti Dorman | Staff Writer

Picture credit: Clay Banks on Unsplash

The election results are in, and Joe Biden has been elected to serve as the 46th president of the United States. The news came early Saturday, and with the advances in technology and social media, the news of his victory quickly spread through the Hampton University community. 

Since Hampton is currently online for the 2020-2021 semester due to COVID-19, celebrating together on social media was the closest thing to celebrating on campus. Even though students felt an obvious disappointment from not being able to share this moment in person with their fellow peers and classmates, Hampton students didn’t allow distance to stop them from enjoying this monumental movement in history for our community. 

“I found out through Twitter when one of my friends tweeted ‘Biden Won,’said Briana Previlon, a third-year Political Science major from Boston, Massachusetts. “I’m kind of sad we aren’t on campus to celebrate together, but we celebrated together online in a way,” she finished. 

On every social media platform, Hampton students were celebrating by posting comical videos, sharing posts, and tweeting to show their excitement for Donald Trump losing to Joe Biden. Also, a lot of first-time voters displayed excitement for casting their first ballot for the first African American and female vice president. 

“This is my first time voting, and it just so happens that I was allowed the pleasure of voting for a black woman,” said Cheri Manning, a third-year psychology major from Rochester, New York. “I cried when I found out Joe and Kamala won. I never thought it would be possible in this America,” she continued. 

Many Hampton students felt the same way, tweeting about their excitement and joy for being able to see the first woman of color elected as the next vice president of America. 

After months of struggling to adapt to online learning, receiving what seems like an endless load of bad news, and surviving the unparalleled year of 2020 overall, students showed that they needed something to celebrate. This news served as a mental break for several people, allowing them to set aside whatever stresses they were facing at the moment and share in the joy of the presidential election results. 

Later that day, the Hampton community shared a historic moment in watching Kamala Harris give a speech on national television as the first woman of color vice president of the United States. Many students shared tears of joy to be able to see a woman from the same background as them run the country.

“When I saw Kamala give her speech, I cried,” said Daeline Brown, a third-year journalism major from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. “She even shouted out black women. We never get the applause that we deserve, so I love her for that,” she finished. 

A lot of students were nervous throughout the week after election day due to the electoral votes fluctuating so much and the counts moving so slowly. After the news spread about Joe Biden and Kamala Harris surpassing the 270 electoral votes needed, they felt a sense of relief knowing they wouldn’t have four more years of Trump.

HBCUs in the Mainstream: How money is key to keep them relevant

Nicole Pechacek | Staff Writer

Photo Credit: Adeolu Eletu on Unsplash

When looking for colleges, many students may know about schools in their regions or maybe even schools that family members attended. They may have heard of Ivy League schools such as Yale or Harvard and may even strive to go there. 

However, HBCUs are slowly gaining more relevance, and more and more students, even non-Black ones, are considering going to them. Historically Black Colleges and Universities are institutions that were created for the purpose of giving Black people access to higher education. 

However, they have been relatively hidden from the wider American consciousness. But in the past 10 years, their names, including our beloved Hampton University, have been spread across the nation. To keep them alive, alumni and students have to share their stories and donate. 

This and more were discussed at Hampton University’s Homecoming event, HamptonYou Live: Endowment Giving at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). 

With Associate Vice President for Development Felicia Blow hosting, a large panel of HBCU alumni and supporters gathered to discuss why endowments and donations from current students and alumni are key to keeping the doors to Hampton open. 

One reason why these donations are so important is because they help fund not only faculty but also public service missions as well. 

Endowments have very specific guidelines, and while it changes per school, they tend to allocate as much money as they can to trouble areas without too much risk. Some advantages of endowments that were listed included attracting highly qualified students, higher quality of learning for a lower price and more support for programs and events.

However, the issue is that HBCUs get significantly less funding than other universities and colleges, especially in comparison to Predominantly White Institutions (PWIs). The experts involved with this panel explained why HBCUs seemed to be falling short when it came to money and why some closed entirely. Panelists suggested that although HBCUs have recently received large donations from the likes of individuals such as Mackenzie Scott, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ ex-wife, the key to keeping HBCUs open and running is not large donations every once in a while but rather smaller donations from students and alumni. The steadier donations a university has, the better it is for its survival. 

However, this is easier said than done. While it is doable, the reason why donations are not as frequent at HBCUs compared to PWIs is because of the wealth gap between blacks and whites. 

Black people have only recently obtained large amounts of capital compared to whites. Statistically, many are not as rich as white people on an average basis. Even so, if planned out correctly, steady donations can be done to keep HBCUs open. 

Another reason as to why endowments are so infrequent is because some people are discouraged from even attending HBCUs. 

Many guidance counselors in high schools seldom mention HBCUs to students as an option, because they are not as well known compared to the Ivy Leagues and Big 10 universities. Some even actively discourage it due to misrepresenting the purpose of an HBCU.

During the event, a story was told about how a Black athlete would take calls from universities with his coach. However, when an HBCU called, he said he would rather get his hands chopped off than talk to them. 

Because of blatant lies and disrespect, HBCUs are still seen as less valuable options when compared to other universities, so people, especially non-Black people, do not want to donate to them. However, as Michael Owens, a panelist and a member of the Columbia Investment Management Company, stated, “We can’t wait on White America to save our HBCUs.” 

While many schools are still getting steady endowments from alumni and companies that are interested in working with them, HBCUs need to focus on gaining more money in order to succeed and stay relevant in America.

Her Campus presents HerHBCU: A digital conference for the HBCU woman

Vashti Dorman | Staff Writer

Raven Harper, HerCampus HamptonU

This past week, Her Campus held its first HerHBCU Digital Conference, a three-day event packed full of workshops in partnership with the Her Campus chapters at Clark Atlanta, Howard, and North Carolina A&T. The workshops were designed to serve as a safe space for HBCU women to network and help each other grow professionally. 

The first day’s events began with an opening session where Her Campus alumni described the importance of such events due to the lack of inclusion and diversity in the Her Campus national organization. Representation was a vital theme emphasized throughout the three-day event. 

“Events like these are important because there’s not a lot of representation and inclusion for our community,” said Kiara Davis, the campus correspondent of the Hampton University chapter of Her Campus. 

The opening session then broke off into multiple workshops that included topics such as How to Have a Great E-Board, Her Declassified Writer’s Survival Guide, Bonding, The CC Rule Book and The Content Corner. Speakers and panelists were excited to share their insight on different topics that they gained from their journeys throughout college, including the fight for the Her Campus national organization to be more inclusive. 

“We want inclusion and for Her Campus to promote more HBCUs in their newsletter,” said Tamaiya Bea, the campus correspondent for the North Carolina A&T chapter of Her Campus and one of the hosts for the Spilling the Tea: The HBCU Woman’s Reality workshop. “We work really hard and never get featured.” 

During the Spilling the Tea panel session, many of the panelists spoke on the need for more stock photo images featuring women of color for articles written by HBCU chapters. Most chapters result in having to use the same images for multiple articles or just having to use images that don’t represent the audience for which the chapter is typically writing. 

“Her Campus does an amazing job of making members feel included, but it comes with time,” said Tiana Nichelle, campus correspondent for Hampton University’s Her Campus chapter and founder of the HerHBCU Conference. “We need more pictures with black girls,” she continued. 

In addition to students, a few staff members at Her Campus Nationals were in attendance to support the event, and also take note of how they can better accommodate the various HBCU chapters. 

“This is so impressive,” said Jamie Hawk, Director of Sales at Her Campus Media. “We know virtual events are not easy, and the fact that you have really built something of substance, in a time that we want to hear from you. You deserve to be heard. You do incredible work. We are so proud to be affiliated with you. We are so thrilled to support you in any way that we can.” 

Day two of the event included workshops that ranged from helping young entrepreneurs elevate their brands and careers to helping students prepare for life post-grad—holding a total of 10 sessions throughout the entire day. Throughout the sessions, hosts encouraged attendees to dig deeper within themselves to find their true purpose in the world. 

By the third and last day of the conference, many attendees were not only happy to get much needed tips to help expand their careers but they were also glad to have the opportunity to be able to connect with their fellow peers after months of being separated. Although they were not able to meet face-to-face, the HerHBCU event provided a way for students to connect and socialize. 

“It’s been hard the past couple of months not seeing my Hampton friends, so the HerHBCU conference was definitely refreshing,” said Briana Previlon, a junior political science major at Hampton University. “Plus, I got a lot of good information I can use for other clubs I’m in.” 

The HerHBCU conference was so popular and such a success that the event had to switch from Hopin, a platform created for online events and conferences, to Zoom in order to accommodate the large number of students wanting to attend. Having such a great turnout, there are plans to hold this event again next year.

My Waterfront Experience

Angela Session | Photojournalist

Everyone has their own experience at Hampton. Although my freshman year was cut short due to the current pandemic, I spent a lot of time there along the waterfront. It first began during Pre-College. I met two of my best friends at a party held by Freshman Studies, and the next day we went to the waterfront around sunset, where we took pictures together with my camera. When I returned to Hampton at the end of the summer, a freshman, the waterfront happened to be right outside my dorm. I met other classmates, re-connected with friends from the summer, and relaxed there. Being one of the few peaceful spots on campus, I always went to the waterfront when I needed to unwind and take pictures. While being there, I’ve watched others spend time with their friends, families, and significant others. I’ve seen the people on the other side of the marina get on their boats and go exploring towards Norfolk and seen some come back from their adventures, tying up their boats for the day. Hopefully next year I can make more memories at the waterfront.


Anyae Johns | Staff Writer

Courtesy of Hampton University Office of Alumni Affairs

 Hampton University’s homecoming celebration is a time where alumni can come back to their “Home by the Sea” and remember the good times they shared on our illustrious campus. 

It gives students a moment to realize how much they love their HBCU and connect with some of the most elite people in the world. Thousands of people travel from all over the country to step foot on campus for one of the best weekends of the year. Our culture shines bright for everyone to see, and it is always a celebration that you don’t want to miss.

Alumni and students put tons of time and energy into preparing for homecoming. You must get your fits prepared for every event, remain hydrated and stay ready because HUHC1868 does not come to play. Homecoming will always be a time where we can relax, have fun and be proud.

Each year, homecoming is filled with events such as a bonfire, block parties, cabarets, daily 12-2’s, 12-5 on Friday, concerts, parties, tailgates, the football game, the fashion show, food trucks, vendors, step shows, band performances and convocation. 

Twitter, Facebook and Instagram went up in flames with the recent announcement to cancel the HUHC1868 gathering. It was a hard decision for the administration to make, but it was the safest option. 

“It makes me sad because I live for October to come to my Home by the Sea to see my friends and family. I’m grateful that we have the virtual homecoming. So far I’ve been able to see the different events and memories, although I miss my Hampton family and receiving my Hampton hugs,” said April Rogers, class of Ogre Phi Ogre 6.

No HBCU students or alumni could picture a school year without homecoming. Either way, from the students to the alumni, everyone is going to represent homecoming week, canceled or not. 

Hampton University’s Office of Alumni Affairs had to do something to bring everyone together in some way with the pandemic going on. They put together Homecoming-Ish, Hampton University’s first virtual homecoming. From Oct. 19 to 25, alumni and students tuned in to watch the events through Facebook and YouTube. Even though they were not able to gather in person, the comments were filled with love and gratitude as they watched the events take place virtually. 

Not being able to attend homecoming on campus in person really put a damper on the moods of alumni, students and faculty. 

“It takes away the real fun of a college campus feel,” HU alumnus Breeon Buchanan said. “Homecoming isn’t just about the activities but the real connections you get to make with other alumni and friends.”

Virtual homecoming will do for now, but the countdown for Homecoming 2021 begins now and it will certainly be one for the books. 

R.E.A.L Royalty: The newly crowned Mr. Pirate and Miss Hampton University


Photo courtesy of HU Student Activities

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic canceling many large events at Hampton, the Greer Dawson Wilson Student Leadership Program and Student Activities were able to host both the Miss Hampton University and Mr. Pirate pageants virtually. Instead of Ogden Hall’s stage, Hampton students gathered online to cheer on the pageant contestants, who competed from their homes around the country.

Inspired by Beyonce’s recent film, the “Black is King” 19th annual Mr. Pirate pageant streamed Sept. 27 on YouTube between contestants Jordan Thomas Ray and Elias James Fambro. After various segments, Ray was announced the 19th Mr. Pirate by five guest judges at the end of the video stream. Despite the lack of spotlights and cheers from students, Jordan said that he still felt the energy when he found out he was the winner of this year’s pageant.

“I worked extremely hard for this,” Ray said. “When I won, I just jumped up in excitement because it was a lifetime goal that was achieved.”

Jordan Ray, a senior liberal studies major with an emphasis in community reform, had been dreaming of winning Mr. Pirate since his first year. His Project Royalty Platform is still planned to start this year as a virtual way for students to connect and network as well as tutor to help empower black youth.

“My plans are to create a connection board with all the students through Zoom calls around two to three times a month,” Ray said. “That’s what I’m going to use to connect us, and I plan to encourage people to step out into the community and be a part of different things. I’m going to create a committee for all Hampton students as a part of a community outreach program where we’re going to go out and empower our youth by tutoring them online.”

Later on that weekend, the “Black is Queen” 63rd annual Miss Hampton University Pageant had eight contestants aiming for the crown, but Christian Peterson was the one to win it all. Peterson, a senior business management major, learned to love pageantry from her sister and was inspired to compete for herself.

“My sister is one of my biggest influences as far as pageantry goes,” Peterson said. “She’s always been very involved in pageants and dancing. A lot of people have this misconception that pageants are kind of superficial, but once you get into them, you realize that a lot of those women that compete in pageants are very educated. They’re really about what they stand for as far as their platforms go and they’re really committed to it.”

Peterson’s platform, Raising Excellence in African American Leaders, also known as R.E.A.L, is a mission to enhance leadership in college and the workforce in the Black community. She has started implementing her program in her hometown of Columbia, South Carolina, despite the pandemic’s hindrances.

“I began the R.E.A.L program at my high school, and I started talking to my old guidance counselor and people at home about it,” Peterson said. “I began with schools, churches and even small community events. I realized I could reach a wider group of people, so I began thinking of what kind of events I could do, not only for people who are coming into college but also college-aged people who are about to start going into the real world. I began thinking, OK, we can do different types of series where we highlight careers, so not only is this showing the career but it’s also showing kids out of high school you can be a young African American and still be successful in the world.”

Peterson was officially crowned the 63rd Miss Hampton University during Hampton’s Coronation ceremony Oct. 7. During this event, Peterson gave a speech where she thanked President Dr. William R. Harvey, and the first lady, Norma B. Harvey, as well as SLP and many others for allowing her to become their new Miss Hampton University.

In addition to showcasing these sacred traditions of crowning both
Mr. Pirate and Miss Hampton, these pageants show how large-scale campus events can still be done virtually and safely. Hopefully, many other campus celebrations use these events as an example to still be able to enjoy the things HU holds dear.