Written by: Khaila King
As the lights dimmed and the seats began to fill Sunday evening at the Buskirk Chumley Theater, eight collegiate women overcame their weaknesses to showcase their strengths in hopes of becoming the 2018 Miss Black & Gold.
The annual scholarship pageant was hosted by the Gamma Eta Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated and narrated by Chapter President Calvin Sanders, and last year’s pageant winner, Faith Causey.
Since 1976, the pageant has been geared toward uplifting women by encouraging each contestant’s academic success, community activism, and giving them the opportunity to foster sisterhood with other contestants.
“It’s women empowerment,” contestant Alexis Beverly said. “Going to a PWI, we’re usually torn down. As Black women we are not valued, but here, we were definitely in a space where we were all valued. We were shown that these are your differences, and these are the qualities that you have that make you, you.”
The show began with each contestant personally greeting the audience, followed by a swim suit competition. The ladies also showcased some of their talents. Performances consisted of singing, dancing, and a very unique science experiment performed by senior Jordyn McCray.
Before the winner was announced, each contestant individually debuted their evening gowns while Sanders and Causey narrated a brief description of their academic achievements and philanthropic history.
McCray took the crown as the 2018 Miss Black and Gold and Miss GPA. Following her lead in second place, freshman Sydney Giles was crowned Miss Gold and Miss Congeniality. In third, junior Alexis Beverly was crowned Miss Black. Other awards consisted of most ad sales and community service, both won by junior Ivorie Stalling.
“At first, this was not something that I ever would have thought about doing,” McCray said. The fact that I was able to step out of my comfort zone and then win. It just feels really good.”
McCray transferred to IU as junior, majoring in Biology with a minor in Spanish. One of the challenges she faced during the process was managing her time between academics and preparing for the show. Her coach and pageant co-coordinator, Calieel Muhammad, helped her develop the confidence she needed to succeed.
“I watched her put in the work and develop overtime,” Muhammad said. “Seeing how much she’s developed and grown since the start of the pageant was a wonderful experience. She definitely gained a sense of confidence.”
The growth and overall success of each contestant was due to their hard work, and the unconditional support and guidance from the men of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated. The show itself would not have been possible without their efforts. Pageant coordinator Brelon Davis described it as an overwhelming but rewarding process.
“I essentially had to orchestrate everything along with Calieel, my co-coordinator” Davis said. “Finding a venue, interviewing the girls with Calieel, picking them and assigning them to their coaches, everything that went into it logistically and emotionally, all of it. I’m relieved that we’re finally through it and happy it went well.”
With her newly bestowed crown, McCray has plans to keep promoting the pageant, volunteering, and encouraging others that stepping out of their comfort zone may be challenging, but worth the risk.
The brothers of the Gamma Eta Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha and the contestants of Miss Black & Gold 2018.