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Mister and Miss Howard University aim to foster a better relationship with students

Mahlon West and Armani Washington describe their journey to becoming Mister and Miss Howard University and what holding those titles means for them as they aim to increase comfortability, resources and inclusivity for students.

Armani Washington and Mahlon West now reign as the 85th Miss Howard University and 47th Mister Howard University. Both Washington and West campaigned throughout the Spring 2023 semester to secure their positions for the current school year.

In the spring, both candidates focused their platforms on highlighting the importance of Howard having a sense of community that they felt had been lost in recent years. Specifically, the camaraderie they sense is missing between student government officials or titleholders and the rest of the student body. 

“Comfortability. With comfortability, I’m more so talking about that [students] can actually come up and speak to us, you know, at any given time. They can feel comfortable saying hello, they can feel comfortable coming to our office. Even just coming to our events. It’s not only for a certain type of student. And this role isn’t only for a certain type of student,” Washington said. 

Both Washington and West have experienced being student leaders in high school, and in their previous years at Howard.

Now in their respective positions, and being more than acclimated to Howard and its quirks, the

pair is that much more committed to ensuring the success of all Howard students. 

 “When I got to Howard, I didn’t really know a lot of the stuff. Like all the resources that were available to me,” West said, “Which is another thing that made me want to run for Mr. Howard.”

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West was able to observe the differences among students based on their backgrounds. Students whose parents are college graduates seemed to navigate better, as opposed to first-generation, international or transfer students.

Washington explained that she has yet to fully grasp the weight of her role as Miss Howard on campus.

“I didn’t have a set plan; I didn’t feel like what I was doing [on campus] was notable. I thought this was just the regular, shmegular, degular,” Washington said. “It’s a proud moment to think about what I’ve done.”

Despite Washington’s struggles with mental health, she is honored to have made it so far. “So, knowing that I went from thinking I wasn’t meant to be here, to serving as a representation for Howard, it’s one of those mind-boggling things. It’s a 360 moment,” she said.

The pair was also adamant about the legacy of inclusivity and dedication they want to leave on other Howard students. 

“I felt like there was a lot of opportunity for Mister Howard to be more closely connected with the student body, more visible at events other than like the major campus events,” West said. “[Events] held by small organizations, open mics…, or you know things of that nature. I feel like it’s just a lot of opportunity for Mr. Howard to be more of a student leader versus like [a] figurehead.”

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When reflecting on what led her to become Miss Howard, Washington was intentional in her words when speaking on the core principles of her mission.

“This role is not just for a certain type of student,” said Washington. “During election season a lot of students are like ‘Oh, I can’t fit that image,’ or ‘Oh… with my background, I wouldn’t be able to go for a position like that,’ but we’re able to showcase that any and everybody can be Mister or Miss Howard.” 

The silhouettes and quote dedicated to Howard’s class of ‘27 reflect Mister and Miss Howard’s dedication to leadership and excellence amongst the student body. (Ixele Akinmowo-Simon/The Hilltop)

As for dedication, West and Washington feel that it is their responsibility to other fellow Bison to hold themselves accountable and be there in a tangible way. 

Walter Servance, the Executive Director of Campus Life and advisor to the Royal Court has had a front-row seat to the influence of those who previously held the title of Mister and Miss Howard since he began advising the court in January of 2019. While discussing West and Washington, he consistently described the duo as nothing short of spirited.

“If I had to describe Armani using one word, it would be energetic,” Servance said. “If I had to describe Mahlon using one word, it would be genuine. Armani and Mahlon together would be described as a dynamic duo.”

Servance then explained how West and Washington balance each other out perfectly.

“Because they are a team, the way they collaborate and support one another is essential to their effectiveness. Leaders come in all forms; sometimes a quiet warrior can be just as effective as the one who is out front and outspoken. The beauty of their partnership is that they understand how they fit into their individual roles and as a team in order to get things done.”

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Armani Washington, Mahlon West and the Howard University Royal Court will serve throughout the 2023-24 school year. Be sure to follow @HURoyalCourt on Instagram to keep up with Mr. and Miss Howard University as they strive to create a lasting community at Howard. 

Copy edited by Diamond Hamm


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