Margaret Mecklenborg / Lantern reporter
For the first time, Ohio State has a reigning Mr. and Ms. Mahogany.
Cameron Hopkins, a third-year in computer science and engineering, and Taylor James, a third-year in public affairs, were crowned the First Annual Mr. and Miss Mahogany at Mahogany Moments, an event part of the 35th annual African American Heritage Festival that centered around the theme “hope,” or “tumaini” in Swahili.
The weeklong festival ran from March 22-29.
Mahogany Moments consisted of a cocktail hour a short program and a dance in the Performance Hall of The Ohio Union, but the pinnacle of the program was the crowning of Mr. and Ms. Mahogany.
The winners received a $200 scholarship, and will also have biographies and photos posted in Student Academic Services building and the Hale Center.
James called the title of Ms. Mahogany an honor.
“It really is an honor, and I’m really thankful to the committee for choosing us. It definitely means we have to uphold this title and represent the black community,” James said. “I’m hoping that it (the title) puts me at a higher position so that I can serve more here at Ohio State and be able to reach out further in different areas.”
Hopkins also plans to do more service work and feels this title could help him reach out to younger people in the community, not just OSU students.
“It now sets a higher standard for us, it shows this campus what we really can do and what type of trend that we can set for the next Mr. and Mrs. Mahogany Moments,” Hopkins said. “I just want to take this to spread it around the campus and to younger people to show them that you can be this person, you can do this. Hope is always there for you, you know? You just got to continue reaching for it.”
Winners are expected to be active leaders in the campus community, excel in academics, emulate the overall theme of tumaini and reach new heights in the community, said Nadiyah Harper, the co-chair of Mahogany Moments and a second-year in fashion and retail studies.
All applicants for Mr. and Miss Mahogany submitted a one-page essay that the Mahogany Moments Subcommittee and OSU alumni evaluated.
“Scores were calculated, and five males and five females went on to the semifinalist round,” Harper said. “In this portion of the selection process, applicants went through a 30-minute interview with Jackee and I, one subcommittee member and one Ohio State alumnus.”
“With the 35th Annual African American Heritage Festival being a landmark year, my co-chair Jackee Mount and I wanted to implement a new tradition,” Harper said. “We wanted to begin something that we hoped would be greater than ourselves, so we decided to begin Mr. and Miss Mahogany.”