This interview is a long time coming! I conducted this interview with Kendall Chalk a couple of months ago during the Ebony Campus King & Queen Competition. At the time, Kendall had just hosted the first King takeover of the HBCU Pulse Instagram page. Because of everything that was going on, I didn’t have the time to put out this interview. This has been a crazy past couple of months full of growth and adventure! However, Kendall remained patient. Now is the time for his story to be told!
Kendall is the epitome of a King. He leads by example and values work over pointless talking. He takes the title of Mr. Prairie View A&M University seriously, pledging to use every resource he can to promote his institution. Kendall recently competed in the Mister HBCU Pageant hosted at Harris-Stowe University. Check out his interview below!
Randall: Thank you so much for allowing me to do this interview brother! Truly an honor! Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Kendall: I am Kendall J. Chalk a 21 year old, GRADUATING Senior Criminal Justice major from Mansfield, Texas, which sits right outside of Dallas. I have the pleasure of reigning as the 2018-2019 Mister Prairie View A&M University.
Randall: How was your high school career?
Kendall: My high school experience was amazing and I believe it prepared me for where I am today. I went to Mansfield Timberview my freshman year, before being rezoned to Mansfield Lake Ridge. LR was a new high school (I was apart of the 3rd graduating class), so I was able to see what it’s like to learn as a follower, implement a legacy and learn the importance in trusting your own process. I was involved a lot in high school partaking in activities such as playing football, powerlifting, and theater club. Graduated in the top quartile of my class and left very happy.
Randall: How’d you end up at Prairie View A&M University?
Kendall: Crazy story actually. I was accepted into about 15 schools. PV was on my radar early like many other HBCUs such as Grambling, Southern, and Texas Southern, but I initially chose against it. I was intending on attending other institutions, but after driving by PVAMU, I saw it was a beautiful campus. I also took note of it’s history and it’s potential. Ultimately, after speaking to my parents (Dad is a SU Grad), I chose to go to a school that was a little smaller, more connected to students, and consisted of a staff and admin that cared about the student.
Randall: What made you choose to major in Criminal Justice? What do you want to do after graduation with that degree?
Kendall: Criminal Justice has always interested me. I come from a family who has worked for years within the system. I have always wanted to work in law enforcement. Post graduation, I plan to pursue a job in either federal or local law enforcement before eventually going back to school for a MPA.
Randall: Let’s talk about your college experience! I want to go through your first few years at PVAMU. How was your:
Freshman Year? Freshman year was a learning experience, blessing, and culture shock all in one. I had my doubts and didn’t know if I would last long at the university. It was a different social environment than I had grown up used to, but I kept my head down and just stayed to my circle. I worked on campus, was in only 1 organization and just focused on school. After winning the freshman housing pageant, I grew closer to student and community leaders, I realized my desire of running for Mister PV. After then everything from elections to networking became a focus of mine. It was actually this that inspired me to run for Mr. Sophomore
Sophomore Year This was perhaps my favorite year. There was so much learning and pure fun this year. Along with working on campus and as a CA, I grew into myself and my position as Mr. sophomore. I was able to get to know people in my class and other universities. I learned a lot from the Ravez Jones & Jeaiza Quinones (Mister & Miss PVAMU 2016-2017), and took notes daily. That year, I also joined the greatest fraternity (Kappa Alpha Psi) and competed in our Delta’s Pageant and ran for Mr. Junior. Everyday wasn’t easy, but looking back at it, my struggles built me into who I am as a Man.
Junior Year? This year was a blur. Academically and socially. I took a big step back from campus involvement, but still found myself busier with programs, Greek life, and work. I planned and planned daily for Mister PVAMU, learning a lot from my predecessor. I also stepped out on faith and ran for City Council. While I did not win, I learned a lot of valuable lessons.
Randall: One thing I discuss in my book A Queen’s Pain is campus politics and the social environment at HBCU’s. In the book, the main character Raynetta Duram has a warped sense of what popularity is. She sees popularity and “clout” as being Greek (specifically a member of the Rho Eta sorority on Laketon State’s campus) and holding a title. In your opinion, what truly defines popularity?
Kendall: I don’t think popularity goes hand in hand with Greek life or campus involvement. I’ve seen people who get so caught up in the politics and social environment to the point that they aren’t as likable. I believe the popularity comes from being genuine and intentional in your actions. The negativity will come, but if you focus on you and your purpose, everything will follow. Allowing yourself to get caught up in the clout sets you up for failure and a big fall eventually. In any leadership position, it’s important to know yourself, your intent prior and stay yourself.
Randall: Also in the book Raynetta has a boyfriend Josiah, a brother of the Lambda Phi fraternity on campus. Raynetta likes him but discounts him because he’s not a Mu Theta, the brother fraternity of the Rho Etas. Because of this she doesn’t truly open up to him and embrace their relationship.
- How is it dealing with relationships on campus being a brother of Kappa Alpha Psi?
Kendall: I haven’t been in a relationship since being in college, but the options are there. I believe it’s normal if you continue to be you. Greek life is meant to be an enhancer, not take over you. I feel if you keep that mindset, the relationship side of things will be “normal”.
- Is it true that you get more attention from women after you cross?
Kendall: It’s funny, but true. Those first few weeks fresh off is the most attention anyone might ever have in life. I was involved on campus greatly before, but the attention increases drastically after crossing. I became more social and stepped outside of my typical group of friends, but that allowed me to see the difference. The way some will approach you when your in letters, versus in plain clothes, is noticeable. The attention helps to fuel the campus popularity and networks, but also teaches life lessons. Everyone is always watching and so is temptation.
- How do you manage the stereotypes of promiscuity that surrounds black male Greek members?
Kendall: Honestly I don’t focus on it. I can’t control anyone’s actions, only carry myself and lend my two cents where needed. Stereotypes will always be there, but it’s on you to live up to it that matters. The stereotypes and comments about Greek life that I’ve heard are so exaggerated that I believe it’s comedic. A Greek and non Greek aren’t that much different. Just a shirt and a few experiences.
- In your opinion, how can a black man navigate the relationship landscape at an HBCU?
Kendall: Staying true to your and your morals is key. At college, especially HBCUs, there’s opportunity of all sorts, but if you stick to what you know, you’ll be fine. I tell everyone focus on grades, and individual success, and the partner will come. Trust the process.
Randall: Does popularity on campus and success go hand-in-hand?
Kendall: No. Some of the most known people on my campus and others, have lost elections and pageants, and aren’t in the fancy organizations. Some people aren’t popular, some aren’t, some are infamous. I think it comes from personality and individuality. People attract to positivity and genuine spirits they can relate to. Their comfortability with you will lift you up. You can seek success and obtain it, but if you are just seeking to obtain popularity, a lot will see through that Just be genuine and lets the rest play it’s part.
Randall: How’d you rise to prominence at Prairie View?
Kendall: #PVRISE. I rose to prominence at PV by, I think, being genuine and going after what I wanted. I would like to think students, alumni, and faculty saw my genuine desire to help and grow as a leader. A select few poured into me, and that’s helped me get to this point.
Randall: What made you want to run to be Mr. PVAMU?
Kendall: After winning the freshman pageant, I remember sitting at coronation and seeing Ayobami Shoyinka and Ivy Walls (2015-2016 Mister and Miss PVAMU) and leaning over to my queen to tell her that’s going to be me. I looked up to those in that position, from PV and other schools. I was intrigued by the impact they had, and I knew what impact i wanted to have. I was asked my freshman year, “looking back in 5 years, what do you want people remember about you?”. That touched me. After spending 2 years under the tutelage of former Kings and Queens, I felt like I had the love and desire to lift the position to the next level. One thing I want to be remembered for, is taking the position to the next level and elevating the perception of HBCU Kings. I loved this position before running, and even more now.
Randall: Tell us about your campaign
- What was your platform?
Kendall: My platform (RISE: Relentless Improvement and Striving for Excellence) was one that I had built off of throughout my past positions. It seeks to uplift, inspire, and empower the HBCU student through a variety of methods and actions. Specifically for this position, I wanted to make sure I engaged the campus as much as possible. This would come through uniting with departments and organizations to have the best possible impact in putting out programming and initiatives.
- What were strategies that you used to reach the students to garner their support?
Kendall: Being genuine was a number one. I’ve sought this position for years, so it came with building up my knowledge, experience, and network as much as possible. Social media was a big tool, this is where #PVRISE comes into play. I also leaned on experiences from past aspirants. I used graphics from my residents, Snapchat filters, endorsements from other HBCU Student Leaders, and teamed up with my prophytes for promo videos and “I Decided To RISE” wristbands. I wanted to run a campaign full out, one that would inspire and set a blueprint for future student leaders.
- What were some problems that you encountered in your campaign and how did you overcome them?
Kendall: I don’t think I encountered any problems campaigning. I spent years imagining, the winter break prepping and ordering material, it was just on my team and I to execute when the time came.
- How’d it feel when you found out that you won?
Kendall: We have elections two weeks before the pageant (which is 90%), so our results aren’t announced until then. That time allowed for me to turn my focus and remain even keeled in the midst. It didn’t hit me till I got back to my room after the pageant, and my line brother brought my awards in the room. Despite all the notifications and pictures, it was at that moment I felt it. It was amazing and indescribable. My purpose is my passion, and to have it pan out, is a testimony. I felt blessed nonetheless.
Randall: Tell us about your coronation! How was it and how were you feeling?
Kendall: My Queen and Royal Court advisor, started planning it from the week I won the pageant and it was worth it. The theme was “ The Royal Ice Ball” which was focused on white with touches of purple. It came together seemingly perfect and felt even better. That’s the official crowning, so it felt amazing to have my family, administrations, students, and past royals in attendance. During the moment i felt overtaken by joy and blessed to reach that point. To think back to that moment places a smile upon my face every time. It was a busy day before and after, but the love of PVAMU, and other HBCUs only gets deeper. That’s the product of your commitment to your university.
Randall: How’d it feel going to NASAP?
Kendall: NASAP was amazing. My dreams had come true by going from looking at pictures to being in them. To meet many of the other leaders I had spent years texting was an even greater feeling. It’s at moment like those where the value of our HBCUs are felt. You see the true potential and personalities of everyone in the room, outside of the titles. I was able to build a lot of meaningful relationships.
Randall: How’d it feel to meet HBCU Kings from other schools?
Kendall: It felt great! A few of them I had served previously with but meeting them is different than group chats and text. My brother Kings are hard working individuals and understand what its like to be the position. Conferences and Games have allowed for relationships to be built that furthered my success.
Randall: What’s next for you in your reign?
Kendall: My time on campus is coming to an end, but a spring approaches I’ll be focused on lifting the position to greater heights and tightening loose ends. There a few more things I seek to check off my list, but follow #PVRISE for the updates
Randall: Where can we find you on social media?
Kendall: On Twitter and Instagram, i can be found @TheKendallChalk. Reach out to me by mentioning me or DMing me. My name can also be found on LinkedIn.