By Kaylin Young, Contributing Writer
Posted 11:15 AM EST, Fri., Feb. 3, 2017
An enthusiastic voice boomed between the close walls of Blackburn’s Digital Auditorium on Jan. 27 welcoming students as they poured in for a panel on self-love hosted by Miss Freshman Brooke Samerson. The panel, titled “Love Yourz”, featured some of Howard’s most prominent female leaders on-campus. The event was sponsored by Curls Haircare and guests received goodie bags of best-selling products along with an interactive discussion.
The evening was opened by Mister Freshman Durmerrick Ross who excitedly introduced each of the panelists. The featured panelists included Miss Howard University Victoria Gray, Howard University Student Association Executive President Allyson Carpenter, Miss Harriet Tubman Quadrangle Ayana Clenance, freshman student activists Tyra Johnson and Raina Simone-Henderson and Alpha Chapter president of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Shaylen Braggs.
Spoken word artist Friday Shabazz set the mood with a piece entitled “Contour Queen”, detailing the contemporary power of makeup and colorism. After a mirage of snaps and applause, Samerson jumped right into questions and gracefully led the evening’s discussion.
‘Why do you do what you do?’ was a question Carpenter was eager to answer. “Howard has invested so much into me, so I want to fulfill my obligation of investing just as much back into this community,” Carpenter said.
Braggs opened up about the duty she owes to both Howard and her sorority.
“I know there’s a misconception about AKAs being stuck-up and rude…but it’s not true and I want to change that perception on-campus,” Braggs said.
Samerson urged panelists to be vulnerable with the question, ‘what is your biggest insecurity?’. Samerson confessed her own insecurity of “feeling awkward,” and Clenance talked about the desire to be liked, but felt “it’s better to be respected than to be liked.”
It was Johnson’s answer that struck a chord with the audience.
“I often compare myself to other women at Howard…you realize you’re not the only poppin girl on campus, but now I feel empowered and inspired by the greatness of the other poppin girls here,” she said.
The evening took a political turn when Samerson asked panelists what their fears for women of color are following the recent presidential inauguration of Donald Trump. Carpenter, who is heavily involved in politics on- and off-campus, spoke extensively about her fears of losing healthcare and reproductive rights for women in low-income situations. Samerson’s answer was a call to action.
“Now is not the time to pretend our Blackness comes after our identity, it is a part of our identity,” said Samerson. “Now is the time to promote HBCUs and support black business and uplift one another.”
‘What advice would you give to the incoming girls of HU’21?’ was the final question of the night.
“All other things like joining extracurricular activities and orgs will depend on your GPA, so take care of that first,” said Gray. Samerson shared personal experiences, and encouraged everyone to pray about every step of their college journey.
Following the discussion, Samerson said that she was happy about those who attended.
Samerson said, “I’m very blessed that everyone came out and look forward to my next event.”
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