Miss BSU Wins Top Ten Spot in Miss HBCU Pageant
By Ashonda Bethea-Ruth
Bowie State University students, faculty and staff boarded a shuttle bus in the early hours of Sept. 25 bound for Atlanta in a show of support for Miss Bowie State University Ayana Harlee in the 25th anniversary if the National Black College Alumni's College Queen pageant.
The pageant showcases HBCU queens from across the country, organizers said. The winner receives a scholarship to continue her academic pursuits.
The trip was filled with high energy, anticipation, and a 12-hour roundtrip drive. To pass the time, the 50-member entourage mingled, took pictures and slept. Junior Class Vice President Nasheia Conway said the only thing she didn't like about the trip was the cramped bus ride.
The bus arrived at the Fairfield Inn and Suites in Atlanta at 1:30 p.m., giving students roughly five hours to eat, rest and get dressed in their best to support Miss Bowie at the pageant. BSU students entered the Hyatt standing side by side on a down the escalator, making sure to enter the venue with pride and elegance.
BSU easily took up three rows of seats, where other schools took one, with very few rows of two. The pageant, which started at roughly 7:30 p.m., was hosted by the television judge Glenda Hatchet.
Hatchet however made numerous mistakes throughout the night. Forgetting multiple names, stumbling on words, misreading cue cards, and mispronouncing BSU's name numerous times, to name just a few. The pageant itself, despite the faulty host went on smoothly.
Harlee made it to the Top Ten. She then gave her oratory on the topic of "Saluting their Past, Securing their Future." Following her speech, the crowd cheered with many standing ovations all throughout the auditorium.
"My favorite part was watching Miss Bowie perform. She did an outstanding job," said Anne Valentine, an advisor on the trip. "The pageant each year is getting better states Valentine. The girls are phenomenal."
BSU students joined hands when waiting for Harlee's name to be called to the Top Five, but were disappointed when hers was not. Many said Harlee should have earned a top spot, but speculated that she was at a disadvantage because she went first in the oratory competition. Several Harlee supporters said the judges made many numerical mistakes in grading other contestants.
Although she did not place in the top five, Harlee told her supporters that her goal was to place in the Top Ten and that she had succeeded.
BSU Royal Court member, Mr. Black and Gold, Brian Whitehead said he was glad to see Miss BSU get into the Top Ten, but was disappointed that she didn't win. He also said he enjoyed his first trip to Atlanta. He also enjoyed meeting new people, and cheering on his queen.
When asked what he thought students got out for the trip, Whitehead said, "They got a chance see and represent their queen, along with the chance to meet and bond with new people."
Miss Howard University ultimately won the pageant. This would be HU's second year competing in the competition, and second year winning, thus creating a two-time winning streak.
"The trip was a good opportunity for students to travel out of Maryland and Bowie," Valentine said. "[They] had an opportunity to be involved with student activities and to just have a good time."
Mr. BSU, Ameer-Hassan Walton, said he got a chance to see what Miss BSU has inside of her, witnessing her maturity and accomplishments. He also got a preview of what's to come when he competes in the Mr. HBCU pageant in March 2011.
There were hardly any bad parts about the trip stated Walton, beside Judge Hatchet destroying his name and the name of his school.