As the terms of seniors Ronald Carter Jr. and Iesha Daniels come to an end as Mr. and Miss Howard University, Rashan Schoffner and Cecily Davis crown themselves as the successors of the Royal Court’s two highest offices. Mr. and Miss Howard University are meant to serve as campus ambassadors for the university where they act as representatives for Howard at Howard-affiliated events such as sporting events, Homecoming, SpringFest, pep rallies and Bison Ball. They also organize events that help the bison community develop career-wise, socially and academically.
The Royal Court, of which Mr. and Miss Howard University are a part, includes Mr. and Miss Freshman, Mr. and Miss School of Education, Mr. and Miss College of Fine Arts, Mr. and Miss College of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences, Mr. and Miss College of Engineering, Architecture and Computer Sciences, Mr. and Miss School of Business, Mr. and Miss School of Communications and Mr. and Miss College of Arts and Sciences.
Schoffner and Davis spoke with the Hilltop to share insight into what they have envisioned for the 2022-2023 school year.
“What we want to do is create a space where undergraduate students are able to partner with graduate students,” Schoffner said, “that’s like us providing that opportunity for students to meet and connect with older professionals in the fields that they aspire to be in.”
“A lot of students at Howard aspire to go further with their collegiate experience,” Davis added, “So tapping back into the community and forging that connection between the two campuses, because right now it’s just like, oh, that’s one school and another school – when we’re both Howard. So that’s the biggest one that I am envisioning right now.”
This initiative, which will be facilitated through a series of networking events, is just one of the planned projects that juniors Schoffner and Davis believe will embody the messages of their respective campaign slogans, “Pushin’ Forward” and “Tap In.” Their goals include pushing students to be true to themselves, catering to mental health concerns and creating forums for students to tap in with each other by building relationships.
The two juniors have a few things in common; they both have interests in creative arts, and they both live in Atlanta, Georgia. In the caption of an April 7 Instagram post, Davis satirically remarked on one of these commonalities writing, “Atlanta runs Howard but we knew that…”
Davis is a BFA musical theater major. She’s already had experience in the Royal Court as she currently serves as the first ever Miss College of Fine Arts, and she was also a member of the Resident Life Court as Miss College Hall North for the 2019-2020 school year.
Schoffner is a TV & film major and photography minor. On campus, he has been involved in Drew Stroll, a stepping team, Elite Models, a modeling agency and Freshman Leadership Academy, a career-oriented program for freshman students.
Schoffner and Davis ran on campaign messages that they thought would be meaningful to them and others.
One of the main pillars of Davis’ platform is to encourage a more inclusive understanding of what it means to be a queen.
“All of us are queens uniquely in ourselves,” she said, “And there shouldn’t be a stigma that you have to do a certain thing or be a certain way in order to be a queen.”
Davis plans to organize block parties, Pretty Wednesdays and a Mr. and Miss Howard Pageant fundraiser to encourage students to be their authentic versions of themselves, making sure that “people know to live their life authentically and that they will be praised accordingly.”
She has also partnered up with other HBCU Misses, Greek Life courts and the Residence Life Court to plan events for the holidays.
Organizing events was a shared objective for Schoffner and Davis during their campaign trails, and Schoffner foresees hosting events that tie into one of his lifelong passions.
One of the main sub slogans of Schoffner’s “Pushin’ Forward” platform is “Pushin’ Fashion Forward.” He plans to facilitate pop-up thrift shops and clothing swaps on the yard or on the rooftop of the Undergraduate Library.
“I’m really into fashion,” Schoffner said, “I like looking nice, getting dressed. So I love that on a nice day, everyone’s going to look nice or if there’s an event, people are going to pop out. And with me being really in love with Howard style and fashion culture, I want to push forward sustainable fashion practices…opportunities for students to remix what’s already in their closets rather than partaking in unstable fashion practices.”
Besides contributing to the fashion culture as Mr. Howard, Schoffner wants students to have a full Howard experience. He believes that most think of Howard as an institution where, because of its perceived prestige, students must dedicate themselves completely to their studies. He wants to change this narrative.
“I want to push the duality of being a Howard student,” Schoffner said.“I feel like what makes the Howard student is the duality of the Howard experience. And I feel like oftentimes, yes, people come to Howard for their education and for the caliber of instructions they’re going to give, but they also come for the experience. So just reinforcing the importance of the duality and being a well-rounded student so that you truly do get the full experience out of the University.”
Schoffner also said that he wants to emphasize the normalcy of not having everything figured out at Howard. He spoke to the importance of taking processes step by step because things will tend to work themselves out.
“That’s something I’ve seen to be true throughout my matriculation at Howard,” he said.
To the tune of not having everything figured out, Schoffner also wants to break the stigma of mental health, so he plans to create a monthly newsletter called The Push Newsletter. The newsletter will focus on mental health and its three main principles: mind, body and soul. Schoffner is inspired by national pandemic-induced mental health issues to create this newsletter.
The Push Newsletter, he said, will provide a platform for students to read articles and watch videos that can positively influence mental health. The newsletter will also include short workout circuits and healthy food recipes and options to help improve physical health, and it will feature meditation practices, Bible verses and music playlists to supplement the soul.
“You should be catering to your mental health simply because if your mind is off, it affects you everywhere else – academically, socially, spiritually, mentally,” Schoffner said.
Schoffner and Davis are also planning to organize a scholarship giveaway that students will compete for by showing their creativity on Tik Tok. Though details about this giveaway are in their early stages, students from all classifications will be able to participate, and two winners from each classification will be awarded money to be used towards books.
Copy edited by Ashleigh Fields