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Mister Howard Wins First Runner-Up at the Annual Mister HBCU Kings Competition

Mahlon West, Mister Howard, first runner-up in Mister HBCU Kings, prioritizes mental health, community connections, and initiatives on campus. 

Mahlon West has prioritized mental health and Howard’s community during his reign. (Photo courtesy of Mister HBCU Kings Competition Leadership Conference and Competition)

The current Mister Howard, Mahlon West, won first runner-up in the 20th annual Mister HBCU Kings Competition, a yearly competition that aims to support, honor, and strengthen the role of HBCU campus kings. 

Last month, HBCU royal court kings from 27 HBCUs arrived in St. Louis at the Marriott Airport for the Mister HBCU Kings Leadership Conference and Competition. 

The preliminary round of competition decided the top 10 finalists, they competed against each other and the top three were picked. Mr. Prairie View A&M University, Hunter James Carl Waldon, won 1st place. 

Conference events also included mental health awareness sessions that centered on building the relationship between the HBCU kings through dialogue on the experience of being a student leader.  

West, a senior health management major, felt that the opportunity to travel to St. Louis allowed him to connect more deeply with the community there. 

“St. Louis has a lot of underserved minority communities and me coming from a community as such, I just really enjoyed going back to the schools and connecting with students and seeing myself in the students,” he said.

With his campaign’s theme being “Not All Heroes Wear Capes,” West has implemented many initiatives during his reign that prioritize mental health and put the Howard community first. 

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He kicked off the year with an event called “Gentleman’s Smoker,” which was a round table discussion of mental health problems for men, such as emotional availability and the difficulties of being a Black man. 

The event aimed to stand on West’s platform, highlighting that there are few spaces for
Black men on campus to have those discussions and be vulnerable.   

“I wanted to create a space where you can take the mask off. You don’t have to wear a cape and be a superhero, and we can just really talk about what’s going on and the issues we face,” he said. 

Other initiatives West implemented included the “Street Mix,” which was a competitive basketball tournament at Banneker Recreation Center. Student entrepreneurs and clothing businesses sponsored teams competing for a $500 cash prize. 

West also hosted a professional development LinkedIn event called “Refresh Your Resume,” where executives from Linkedin and other leaders in the tech field did live resume reviews, a panel discussion and, at the end of the event, gave away free premium LinkedIn subscriptions to the participants. 

As for the future, West still has a lot of events coming up before his reign is over. He shared that plans on starting a book club, a “Street Mix pt. 2,” a women’s health week in March, and more.

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Walter Servance, executive director of campus life and a royal court advisor at Howard University, spoke on the remaining timeline of West’s reign.

“He’s been on track. He has exceeded our expectations, honestly, and everything he said he would do, plus more he has done. He is always willing to assist and do more for Howard University and the HBCU community,” Servance said.

Roland Reynolds Jr., program coordinator of graduate experience and a royal court advisor, affirmed how important it is for the Howard community to have someone like West as Mister Howard.

“He isn’t your traditional Mr. Howard, but he is one of the best Mr. Howard’s that I’ve witnessed just because he is authentically himself,” he said. “It is easy to put on a crown and wave and be somebody you’re not, but underneath his crown and wave, he is just always himself.” 

Copy edited by Alana Matthew

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