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HBCU Queens: From the CIAA to Changing the World

HBCU culture is all about honoring tradition, especially in the South. One of the biggest traditions in HBCU culture especially for a Black Southern Belle is the tradition of the Royal Court, especially the HBCU Queens. With CIAA right around the corner, we are taking a walk down memory lane to honor the HBCU Queens of the past from the CIAA conference. Be sure to share images of your CIAA fun using the hashtag #blacksouthernbelle

HBCU Queens: From the CIAA to Changing the World

Jasmine Abrams, PhD, Miss Virginia State University 2009-2010 and Miss CIAA 2010

Abrams-Jasmine-rotated HBCU Queens: From the CIAA to Changing the World
  • School / Graduation Year: Virginia State University, 2010
    • First and only Miss Virginia State University to earn the title of Miss CIAA
  • Career: International Research Scientist, Professor, Entrepreneur 
  • Accomplishments or Interesting Facts Since Winning Your Title:  
    • Earned a Master’s and PhD
    • Published over 25 scholarly works (peer reviewed articles and book chapters)
    • Secured nearly $1 million dollars in funding for research
    • Mentored over 50 underrepresented minority students
    • Traveled to 15 countries
    • Started three companies (Research Assistance Agency – Research Unlimited, Sexual Health / Education Company – SpiceXperience; Web Design Service for Academics – Tuzo Designs)

Dontia Barrett, Miss Winston-Salem State University 2015-2016 and Miss CIAA 2016

Barrett-Dontia-2 HBCU Queens: From the CIAA to Changing the World
  • School / Graduation Year: Winston-Salem State University, 2016
  • Career: Assistant Vice President of Diversity Talent Acquisition at Bank of America responsible for managing HBCU recruitment efforts and external partnerships. 
  • Accomplishments or Interesting Facts Since Winning Your Title:
    • I marry my best friend in May! We’ve been together since our freshman year in college and he was also the Student Body President of WSSU during my reign as Miss CIAA.
    • I moved back to Charlotte to start my role at Bank of America in December. It’s great to see that my work with HBCUs has come full circle. 
    • Prior to my move, I served on the Board of the Columbus Urban League Young Professionals as the marketing co-chair.

Keresse (Burton) Dorcely, Miss Virginia State University 2001-2002

Dorcely-Keresse-2 HBCU Queens: From the CIAA to Changing the World
  • School / Graduation Year: Virginia State University, 2002
  • Career: Fashion Designer , SIX/20 LLC
  • Accomplishments or Interesting Facts Since Winning Your Title: After graduating with a Bachelor of Music, I went on to receive a Master of Music in Business.  I went on to teach high school Chorus before making a complete career shift and started SIX/20, a luxury sportswear brand for women (www.six20style.com). I design every piece and manufacture here in the United States.  We were recently featured in InStyle Magazine as one of the 23 Black Designers to Watch in 2020. I am also super proud of my husband, James of 13 years and our 11-year-old daughter Lyric.

Alana (Simmons) Grant, Miss Elizabeth City State University 2010-2011 and Miss CIAA 2011

Grant-Alana-2-scaled HBCU Queens: From the CIAA to Changing the World
  • School / Graduation Year: Elizabeth City State University, 2011
  • Career: Project Manager for SC Commission for Minoirty Affairs & Realtor 
  • Accomplishments or Interesting Facts Since Winning Your Title:  I started a non-profit that gained lots of awards and recognitions including:
    • King Center Angel Award 
    • SC Black Pages 20 under 40 
    • ABC Jefferson Awards Recipient 
    • Key to the City of Tacoma, Washington 
    • Living our Values Award from Public Allies 
    • Hampton University Presidential Citizenship Award 
    • Columbia Business Monthly Top 35 and Under 
    • SC Human Affairs Commission “Emanuel Lives” Award
    • And recognition by Essence, Glamour and Time magazines

LaTarryl Hall, Miss Chowan University 2014-2015 and Miss CIAA 2015

Hall-LaTarryl-1 HBCU Queens: From the CIAA to Changing the World
  • School / Graduation Year: Chowan University, 2016
    • First and only Miss Chowan to earn the title of Miss CIAA
  • Career: Works in Security Operations for The City of Charlotte Government
  • Accomplishments or Interesting Facts Since Winning Your Title:  I have worked for the South Carolina State Government in Juvenile Corrections and worked for the Department of Homeland Security in Transportation Security since winning Miss CIAA. I plan to start graduate school at UNCC for my Master’s in Social Work this summer.

Tanoia Hill, Miss Johnson C. Smith University 2008-2009 and Miss CIAA 2009

Hill-Tanoia-1 HBCU Queens: From the CIAA to Changing the World

Tanoia Hill is a certified Scrum Master and Business Analyst with over 10 years of experience in Information Technology. She is currently employed with JPMorgan Chase as an Iteration Manager and Technical Analyst in Cybersecurity under the direction of the Global Identity Access Management group. She was recruited by the company to lead three development teams through the software development lifecycle. Ms. Hill previously served as a Lead IT Specialist at Nationwide Insurance. It was at Nationwide Insurance where Tanoia would start her journey in IT as an intern and over the course of time would move up the ranks from an individual contributor to a leadership role. 

Ms. Hill earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Arts from Johnson C. Smith University (HBCU) in Charlotte, NC. It was there that she graduated Magna Cum Laude and was crowned Queen of both the University and the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA). As Queen, Ms. Hill represented the university at public events and coordinated community service projects for the campus. Upon graduation, she relocated to Columbus, OH where she obtained a Master of Business Administration from Ohio Dominican University and a Master of Information Strategy, Systems and Technology from Muskingum University. 

Ms. Hill is actively involved in the community and spends time enlightening students about the importance of STEM. Her greatest joy is supporting and rooting for her 13-year-old son Dominic in his academics and extra-curricular activities. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Sorority Incorporated, and has hosted a scholarship fundraising event, served as the Technology Chair and currently serves as Co-Chair of the HBCU Committee. Additionally, Ms. Hill has volunteered at the YWCA, Women’s Shelter, Ronald McDonald House and a host of other non-profit organizations in Central Ohio. Ms. Hill has always found a way to be actively involved with under privileged families, doing work that she is truly passionate about. 

Chelsea Johnson, Miss Livingstone College 2008-2009

Johnson-Chelsea-2-scaled HBCU Queens: From the CIAA to Changing the World
  • School / Graduation Year: Livingstone College, 2009
  • Career: Educator & Basketball Coach at Amos P. Godby High School in Tallahassee, Florida
  • Accomplishments or Interesting Facts Since Winning Your Title:  
    • Inducted into the Association of Godby Graduates Hall of Fame 2018
    • Received her Master of Education in Educational Leadership from Louisiana State University-Shreveport
    • Top Educator of America Award Winner 2019
    • Family played and won The Family Feud with Steve Harvey

Vanity (Oakes) Jones, Miss Winston-Salem State University 2013-2014 and Miss CIAA 2014

Jones-Vanity-1 HBCU Queens: From the CIAA to Changing the World
  • School / Graduation Year: Winston-Salem State University, 2014
  • Career: Event Planner, Recruiting Coordinator at Pratt & Whitney 
  • Accomplishments or Interesting Facts Since Winning Your Title:  I served as an intern with Food Lion in Diversity & Inclusion following my win of the Miss CIAA 2014 title. This internship lead to the kickstart on my professional career, remaining with Food Lion for four (4) years. In this role, I coordinated various diversity-based sponsorships and internal initiatives. These sponsorships included partnerships such as the fruitful relationship between Food Lion and the CIAA. I supported a great deal of Food Lion’s presence at the various CIAA championships and tournaments. One of those items being the Miss CIAA Scholarship Competition where I served as a Chair of the planning committee for four (4) years. 

Briona May, Miss Shaw University 2017-2018 and Miss CIAA 2018

May-Briona-2 HBCU Queens: From the CIAA to Changing the World
  • School / Graduation Year: Shaw University, 2019
  • Career: Political and Legislative Advocacy Apprentice in the political action department at AFSCME.
  • Accomplishments or Interesting Facts Since Winning Your Title:  After graduation, I moved back to my hometown in Hampton, Virginia and started my AmeriCorps adventure as a literacy tutor with the Literacy Lab. I then became an Assistant Indoor Track Coach at Woodside High School in November and Substitute Teacher for Newport News Public Schools in addition to my AmeriCorps opportunity. As of February, I’ve relocated to Arizona for my new career with AFSCME.

Lauren Papillion, Miss Virginia State University 2015-2016 and Miss CIAA 2016 1st Runner-Up

Papillion-Lauren-2 HBCU Queens: From the CIAA to Changing the World
  • School / Graduation Year: Virginia State University, 2016
  • Career: Currently, I work for the Department of Defense as a Communications Analyst supporting our military. 
  • Accomplishments or Interesting Facts Since Winning Your Title:  While working full time, I also own and operate an online clothing store called L. Simone Co. My boutique opened in 2018.  Since winning Miss CIAA, I have moved to our nation’s capital and completed my Master’s degree in communications. Each year, I attend the Mister and Miss VSU pageant/workshop to help the continue the legacy of Miss VSU.

Regina M. Parham, Miss Virginia State University 1998-1999 

Parham-Regina-1-scaled HBCU Queens: From the CIAA to Changing the World
  • School / Graduation Year: Virginia State University, 1999
  • Career: Child and Adolescent case manager while pursuing LPC license
  • Accomplishments or Interesting Facts Since Winning Your Title:  Two-year Breast Cancer Survivor, CEO of Nonprofit organization founded to increase Breast Cancer Awareness, was awarded Community Hidden Figure Award in 2019.

Darnella Reeder, Miss Saint Augustine’s University 2014-2015

Reeder-Darnella HBCU Queens: From the CIAA to Changing the World
  • School / Graduation Year: Saint Augustine’s University, 2015
  • Career: Human Resource Management
  • Accomplishments or Interesting Facts Since Winning Your Title:  Since participating in the Miss CIAA competition, I graduated with a Master’s in Business Administration from North Carolina Central University and began working in Human Resource Management for a Healthcare Technology company in Charlotte, NC. I also published a Lifestyle Blog named The Extra Introvert (theextraintrovert.com) that focuses on producing relatable content in categories such as relationships, careers, education, business, self-care, travel, and style. Its purpose is to inspire, inform, and transform the limiting beliefs that keep us stuck.

Constance Samuels, Miss Virginia State University 2008-2009

Samuels-Constance-1 HBCU Queens: From the CIAA to Changing the World
  • School / Graduation Year: Virginia State University, 2009
    • Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management
  • Career: Senior Meeting Planner for a non-profit association in Washington, DC
  • Accomplishments or Interesting Facts Since Winning Your Title:  2015: Awarded ‘Trailblazer of the Year’ (by: The Greater Madison Urban League, Madison, Wisconsin)
    • 2017: Obtained Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) certification
  • Currently an Evening MBA Student at Virginia Tech University, anticipated graduation 2021
  • Lived in Austin, Texas and Madison, Wisconsin, each for 3.5 years prior to moving back to the Washington, DC area in 2015.

Machele Sanders, Miss Virginia State University 2014-2015

Sanders-Machele HBCU Queens: From the CIAA to Changing the World
  • School / Graduation Year: Virginia State University, 2015
  • Career: Architect/Designer
  • Accomplishments or Interesting Facts Since Winning Your Title:  Went to graduate school at the George Washington University. Graduated in 2017 with a master’s degree in Interior Architecture and Design. Currently I am working for an Architecture firm in Washington DC. I have had the pleasure of working on Library’s, elementary schools, community centers such as homeless shelters, senior living facilities and most recently corporate office buildings. 

Monique Scott, Miss Bowie State University 2018-2019

Scott-Monique HBCU Queens: From the CIAA to Changing the World
  • School / Graduation Year: Bowie State University, 2019
  • Career: Admissions Advisor at the University of Maryland Global Campus 
  • Accomplishments or Interesting Facts Since Winning Your Title:  Since graduating I had the pleasure of serving as a Public Affairs Intern at WSSC Water and Digital Media Marketing intern for Kam Williams from MTV’s Are You The One and The Challenge. Additionally, my business partner, Carline Joseph and I have launched our PR Firm, MC Lux Public Relations Firm, LLC. I will also be starting my Master’s program for Marketing in the Summer.

Tiera Sedden, Miss Virginia Union University 2014-2015

Sedden-Tiera HBCU Queens: From the CIAA to Changing the World
  • School / Graduation Year: Virginia Union University, 2015
  • Career: Early Literacy Specialist. Personal Development Life Coach and Speaker
  • Accomplishments or Interesting Facts Since Winning Your Title:  Started a brand as a life coach and speaker which promotes self-actualizing practices to men, women and children from ages 10- and up.

Heather (Smith) Terrell, Miss Elizabeth City State University 2011-2012 and Miss CIAA 2012

Terrell-Heather HBCU Queens: From the CIAA to Changing the World
  • School / Graduation Year: Elizabeth City State University, 2012 
    • Received a B.S. in Elementary Education. She also received her M.S.Ed from Walden University in Reading and Literacy. 
  • Career: 5th-grade teacher at D.F. Walker Elementary School in Edenton, NC; currently in her 6th year of teaching. 
  • Accomplishments or Interesting Facts Since Winning Your Title:  
    • Heather won the Mount Up Award in 2017 for Mount Lebanon Baptist Church. The award is given to volunteers who are on the rise in the church. 
    • Heather won the Volunteer of the Year Award in 2018 for Mount Lebanon Baptist Church for outstanding leadership. 
    • Heather won Teacher of the Year in 2018 for D.F. Walker Elementary. For two consecutive years (2018, 2019, respectively), Heather was also acknowledged for being in the top 25 percent of teachers for reading growth in North Carolina. 
    • Heather has now taken up the hobbies of crafting and photography. Currently, she is doing freelance work, and in the future, she hopes to own her own business in photography. 
    • Heather married the love of her life on July 29, 2017, and Wayne Terrell is also an educator and an HBCU graduate (Winston-Salem State University).  
    • Heather added to her lovely family on November 20, 2019, when her son, Malachi Neal Terrell, was born. 

Brittany Whidbee, Miss Elizabeth City State University 2012-2013 and Miss CIAA 2013

Whidbee-Brittany HBCU Queens: From the CIAA to Changing the World
  • School / Graduation Year: Elizabeth City State University, 2013
  • Career: Assistant District Attorney, Durham County (Juvenile Justice Division) 
  • Accomplishments or Interesting Facts Since Winning Your Title: Member of the 2016 graduating class from North Carolina Central University School of Law, Passed the North Carolina State Bar and received my license to practice law in the Fall of 2016. I am also recently engaged, and my fiancé and I are planning to be married in the spring of 2021. 

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Michiel Perry

Michiel is a Black Southern Belle living a lowcountry life. I love all things fashion, home decor and southern! When I am not running around doing fun stuff for Black Southern Belle, I live in antique stores and have a minor obsession with historic homes 🙂

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