HU students get a taste of the tech industry

Leondra Head | Local & World Editor


Hamptonians are gaining insightful knowledge from leaders in the technology sector on endless career opportunities the technology industry has to offer. Nine Hampton students were selected to participate in Spotify’s HBCU Opening Act Conference from a pool of over 1,000 applicants who applied.

Spotify offered the conference to students who attend HBCU’s and are interested in pursuing careers in the music-tech and media industries. Students sat with executives and leaders within music, tech and media industries and were provided with insight on how to achieve career goals in these industries.

Nia Wellman, a junior strategic communications major, learned more about the technology industry and is applying her knowledge to her internship applications at various technology companies.

“I gained a wealth of knowledge from the Spotify conference. Before applying, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I thought the tech industry was only for engineers and coding ‘geeks,’” said Wellman. “However, to my surprise, I learned that there is a place for marketing, public relations, creative and much more. Simply taking this leap of faith and applying [for] this opportunity allowed me to broaden my knowledge of the tech industry.”

Wellman was glad to be exposed to more than what she usually witnesses in Hampton’s Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.

“I gained more insight of the world outside of the traditional media that I’m used to in Scripps. I’ve already begun applying to opportunities in the tech industry like Google, Spotify and Venmo.”

Throughout the conference, students visited other tech and media companies like Snapchat, NBC Universal and Venmo.

Freshman Kibraya Kafele learned how to brand herself and networked with NBC Universal recruiters, where she plans to intern this summer.

“Coming into the conference, I was very nervous. I didn’t know how to make connections or what I even wanted to do with my degree after graduation. However, after the conference, I came back to Hampton with a different mindset from which I left with,” said Kafele. “I had the opportunity to visit NBC Universal and was so amazed that I decided to send out an inquiry to become an intern this summer. This conference expanded my HBCU family and allowed me to gain a lot of confidence.”

Malcolm Lott, a sophomore strategic communications major, credited the conference to being the best four days of his life and said the experience allowed him to return to campus smarter and wiser.

“I learned that my journey in life has literally just started and that my ambition will keep me hungry throughout the journey. Spotify opened my eyes to a world that I never paid much attention to,” said Lott. “I gained a new outlook on my life. This experience humbled me to continue my passion and strive for greatness.”

Many of the Hampton students plan on applying to internships for full-time roles with Spotify. Graduating senior Arielle Wallace gained a strong HBCU network.

“This conference allowed me to get my foot in the door with some of the biggest tech companies in the world while connecting me to an incredible network of HBCU students from across the country,” said Wallace. “I learned that the HBCU world extends across all fields and reaches to the executive level. I plan on applying to non-technical roles at Spotify.”

James Weaver IV, a senior strategic communications major, plans to apply for tech internships and has since gained connections from the conference.

“My experience with Spotify was amazing. I made connections with several black students and professionals and ultimately gained a firmer understanding of how I can uniquely benefit any company,” said Weaver. “I also plan to apply for internships with NBC Universal and Venmo.”


HU student competes for Miss VA USA

Leondra Head | Local & World Editor

Delaria Ridley | Courtesy of Leondra Head

Hampton University’s Delaria Ridley is making a name for herself in the pageant world, most notably competing for Miss Virginia USA as Miss North Hampton USA.

Ridley is a senior strategic communications major from Atlanta and has been competing in pageants since 15 years old.

“My experience while participating in the pageant was absolutely amazing. I gained a great network of women. Pageants truly allow you to meet women from all walks of life. It was great [competing] in another state.”

Ridley’s platform was HOPSCOTCH K!DS, Helping Others Play.

Her purpose was to encourage young men and women to pursue their dreams without limits by giving them the tools they need to succeed.

Leading up to the pageant, practice kept Ridley busy to prepare for the big night.

“Oh, boy! Practice was three hours for four days a week. Practice included walking lessons, interview prep and exercising daily.”

Ridley maintained a healthy diet months prior to the pageant to prepare herself. “My diet consisted of high protein and vegetable intake. I limited my carb intake to about 30-45 a day.”

Ridley started competing at a young age in 2010 as a contestant in the National Miss Pageant. In high school, she competed for Miss Georgia Teen USA.

Ridley is from Georgia and is still a resident of the “peach state.” Miss Virginia USA is her 7th pageant and 5th state pageant. Although Ridley did not place, she plans to return home to compete for Miss Georgia USA in the future.

“I plan to return back to the place I call home to compete! Georgia is where my roots are and I would love to compete and hopefully represent the state that has contributed to my development as a woman.”

Throughout Ridley’s experience, she received advice and guidance from Miss Tennessee USA 2015 and Hampton alumna, Kiara Young.

Forty-five contestants competed in the pageant that was held at the Tidewater Community College’s Roper Theater in Downtown Norfolk.

The portions of the competition were evening gown, swimsuit, interview and an on-stage question.