I’m sure you might be confused or curious and wondering what’s up with this title. Some of you are thinking Why would she be running from that? Is this about the bad parts of campus queens or something? Believe me when I say that I am not HBCU royal court-bashing nor is this an anti-royalty read. In fact, I’d like to think that it’s the opposite but let me explain and start by introducing myself. I am Nia Whitten, a rising sophomore Communications Media major at THE Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University (Go Bulldogs!), and I am honored to serve as the University’s Miss Sophomore for the 2019-2020 school year. When HBCU Pulse creator, Randall Barnes, suggested that I share the recap of my Miss Sophomore campaign for my first Pulse article, I couldn’t help but to think that I don’t have a recap to tell. Then I realized that was a lie and just because I don’t have a “campaign recap” doesn’t mean I don’t have a recap at all of how I got here.
Contrary to me being “honored” to be a member of the royal court, I wasn’t always so excited about the position; or even the idea of the position. Let’s be clear, there are some sacrifices that are made in order to serve as a face of your university. You have to be presentable at all times (if you’re anything like me, this can be tough when that pair of sweats is calling your name), attend events when there is a party going on, or speak publicly when you would rather be chopping it up with friends. The possible shifts in campus life can be an adjustment that I honestly didn’t believe I was ready for. Don’t get me wrong, I used to be a campus queen for a different organization my freshman year as well as earned titles in high school and I enjoyed my reigns but, this felt different. The responsibility is high as a representation of your school. Also, don’t confuse my concerns of the job with the faith I had and still have in myself. The matter was never that I thought I was incapable of being a good queen, but instead that I didn’t want to because I didn’t think I was ready to make the sacrifices. God laughed at what I “didn’t want” and well, here’s my testimony.
I always knew I wanted to be a class queen on the royal court of an HBCU and or the queen of that institution itself, which luckily turned out to be Alabama A&M. I followed various courts on social media for years but somehow when it became my chance to run for something, I ran from it instead. I know, what was I waiting for? Why not just go for it? Trust me, there is more foolery and blocking of blessings in the words to come.
One night, I received a call from a fellow campus queen aspiring to run for Miss AAMU. She told me that she was looking through my Instagram and praised me for allowing my personality to shine through my page. She felt like I would be an awesome queen, wanted me to run, and be a part of her court.
First lesson of this testimony: People tend to see the great things we are unable to see in ourselves. Believe in who you are and live in your purpose; even if you’re not sure what it is yet.
I was amazed, in disbelief, flattered, and intimidated all at the same time. Despite my mixed emotions on whether I should run or not, I brushed them off and only promised her that I would attend the interest meeting which I did. I signed the top of the signature sheet specifically dedicated to potential candidates of Miss Sophomore and it was interesting to find that no one else signed, even after the meeting was over. I didn’t realize this until after the fact (and after I trashed the informational packet) but no other girl showed up to the meeting. I could’ve been the only person running but I decided not to and this was a sign; a sign that proved to be hilarious because I joked with my mother about how I would run for the position if no one else was there to “save the day.” I was just joking but I guess I spoke it into existence.
I continued to live my life as campaign season kicked into high gear and I couldn’t help but enjoy the culture of the season with the banners, activities, and especially the events with the free food (I accept all complimentary bags of hot fries by the way.) I was excited about helping and supporting my friends who were running for things but they constantly bugged me about developing my own campaign and stressed that I should run. Several family members encouraged me to do the same and although I appreciated the faith they had in me, I just told myself “Nah, maybe next year. I’m not ready. What if someone better runs? I think my friend wants to run anyway and I wouldn’t want to do it too.”
Second lesson of this testimony: DON’T dim your light to let others shine! (Stop that.)
I proceeded to prepare for a big day on the Quad: the day all candidates would make their speeches. I was excited to help my friends in every way I could, however, I woke up feeling super heavy and conflicted like there was something weighing down on me. I got on my knees and prayed, asking for clarity and for God to give me peace and deliver the negative spirit from me so I could be positive and helpful while campaigning for friends. I remember asking God exactly to “Show me whatever is for me as long as it’s of you and whatever isn’t, remove it.” After praying and getting dressed, I felt a little better and sucked up whatever tension I had left but upon arriving to the Quad, all people could do was stop me and ask where my campaign table was. “What are you running for?” and “Do you have a button I can wear?” is what I kept hearing from students and queens from the previous year. The queens told me that me running was obvious and that I had to but all I could wonder was why they kept saying this. I thought maybe it was the way I dressed with a blazer and heels but that’s just how I was feeling that day. That’s the look I unintentionally aimed for on most days: cute, classy and presentable. But wait a minute, didn’t I say that queens must be presentable?
Third lesson of this testimony: God has a way of preparing us for things without/before us even knowing.
The day only grew more interesting when an old acquaintance approached me and although we spoke briefly, he sent me a text message hours later that read:
“Hopefully this is the correct person I ran into on the Quad today…
God told me to share this thought with you while it was on my heart.
Just take your steps to achieving your mission of what you want and need to do for you. And continue to have joy and determination like nothing else.
Breathe…Fail…Succeed and Bless Up.”
I’m not sure how you all feel reading this but it was at this point that I was officially freaked out. I could not believe that God might have been moving this fast but then something else was revealed to me that day on the Quad: No one was running for Miss Sophomore. The position was vacant and when it was called for the candidates to give their speech, nobody did. In the aftermath of this day, there was not a doubt in my mind that I was supposed to run but that realization didn’t stop me from coming up with more excuses and avoiding taking the initiative to express interest in the position.
Maybe a week or two later, a university email greeted my inbox with details about a “Miss Sophomore Informational.” Still hesitant, I went anyway and it was just my luck that there was a handful of competition there too. I went from practically having the crown in my hands to being here with girls who listened to the same intuition I had in me that told them to come to the second interest meeting. After listening to the information I already knew, I had to sort out my feelings this time instead of sweeping them under the rug; I had to weigh the pros and cons. Due to limited time, we were unable to campaign traditionally (which was also a sign because I was worried that I didn’t have the finances to run an effective campaign.) I was convinced that God was literally eliminating every worry and terminating any excuse I tried to form. I had to do this, even if I didn’t win and this was just for the experience of going through a process. We were told to turn in our application by noon the following day and that a panel would ultimately choose a winner. I went straight to my room and did what I had to do, turning in the application on time the next day. I was actually waiting to see if I got accepted into a separate organization that I never questioned I wanted to be a part of in the midst of all this. I prayed to be accepted and when I found out that I wasn’t, I was devastated. (Don’t mind my dramatics. But I was disappointed.) The thing is I always wondered if I could fulfill that position as well as that of Miss Sophomore at the same time since they were both so demanding and time consuming and when I finally dropped my phone in shock after I got the call that I was the new Miss Sophomore, it all made sense.
Final lesson of my testimony: It’s usually best that we’re not given what we ask for. God gives us what we need; even if we don’t know that. Instead of providing us with what we can handle or what we think we can handle, God helps us with what we are given. And that is usually way more than what we could have ever asked for.
For something that I thought I didn’t really want, I felt and continue to feel extremely full and elated that I hold such a position. The truth is that this was meant for me all along; not just being Miss Sophomore but me being able to share my story because when God has something for you, it’s yours and no one else’s. He’s just waiting to see if you’re going to get up and become the person that is ready to receive it as well as the person that is knowledgeable and accepting of these four lessons.