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    Miss Junior Nijah Mckinney engages in thoughtful conversations with the JSMS students during Queens Teaching Queens. Photo by Latasha Jeter/Echo staff photographer
  • QueenCouncil_org3_CW.jpg
    Miss NCCU Dajah Johnson (kneeling) stops by each group, offering encouragement and advice during Queens Teaching Queens. Photo by Latasha Jeter/Echo staff photographer
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    The JSMS students and the NCCU queens pose together at the end of the event. Photo by Latasha Jeter/Echo staff photographer

Making NCCU royalty accessible to all

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Don’t let the crowns and sashes fool you. Royal Court members and other “campus royals” are embracing hands-on community service, thanks to a new initiative.

The Queen’s Council is a network of NCCU queens that participates in community service events geared toward empowering women of all ages, according to the group’s founder, Miss NCCU Dajah Johnson.

There are a few ways to become an “NCCU queen.” Fraternities hold pageants during which ladies are crowned. Then there’s the NCCU Royal Court. Finally, student organizations, like the University Honors Program, have their own royal courts.

Johnson created The Queen’s Council last spring, during her campaign for Miss NCCU.

“I wanted to create unity amongst women. A lot of the queens had similar ideas and programs, so why not work together?” Johnson remembered thinking. “Women in high positions don’t have to compete against each other to be successful.”

There are 40 reigning queens on the council. Any former Royal Queen is eligible to be on the council.

One of the major initiatives of the organization is the Queen of the Month program.

Each month, dozens of prospective students apply to become Queen of the Month. Any student can apply for the title, but applicants must have a GPA of at least 2.5, propose a community service program, and complete an essay about what it means to be a queen.

“I wanted to give people who weren’t campus queens an opportunity to experience what it’s like to be campus royalty,” Johnson said.

Each Queen’s Council member reviews and votes on which student becomes Queen of the Month.

The winner receives a photo-shoot and a “queen’s necessity package,” filled with school supplies, pearls, and other items “fit for a queen.” The Queen of the Month also collaborates with The Queen’s Council to make her community service initiative a reality.

January’s Queen of the Month was family consumer science senior Ariel Harris. She and the Queen’s Council collaborated with female James Shepard Middle School students for a program called Queens Teaching Queens, on Jan. 27.

At the school, Harris, alongside Miss NCCU and other Royal Court queens, spoke to girls about the journey of becoming queens and the importance of portraying a positive image.

Miss Iota Phi Theta Alexis Cofield, Miss Junior Nijah McKinney, Miss Residential Life Mykayla Hamilton, and Miss October LaPrince Miller were also in attendance.

Organizers split the girls into smaller groups, each led by a queen. Miss Junior Nijah McKinney encouraged the girls to go after their dreams.

“Don’t let anyone make you feel like you’re not capable of doing something you want to do,” McKinney said.

Students stood up and shared their definition of a queen toward the end of the program. One student said, “Being a queen is not about wearing a crown. It is about how you can make a change in your community and in your school.”

Before closing the event, NCCU queens encouraged the young girls to wear their “invisible crowns” every day.

“A queen is someone who wants to empower and does empower,” said Johnson. “She is willing to help any and everybody.”

Johnson said she wants to have more programs like Queens Teaching Queens for younger girls, in the future. She hopes that after she graduates the Queen’s Council will carry on.

“I want the organization to continue to grow into something much bigger.”

Story by Latasha Jeter

The Campus Echo is the official student newspaper of N.C. Central University, an HBCU in Durham with about 8,250 students. The Campus Echo is one of the most highly recognized HBCU student newspapers in the nation. In the last 15 years our print and online editions have won over 250 national and regional awards from the Black College Communication Association, the Society for Professional Journalists, the Associated Collegiate Press and the North Carolina College Media Association.

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