by Maya Brown
From growing up in a small Alabama town where the population was less than 15,000 residents and held very few opportunities for African-Americans to become the campus queen at the fourth-largest HBCU in the nation, Destiney Lawrence has made quite the transition.
“Fairhope, Alabama, was very slow-paced and family oriented,” Lawrence says. “There weren’t a lot of black people, and there wasn’t a lot of open racism but… there was not a lot of praise of black people.”
The lack of diversity or negative perceptions was not enough to discourage Lawrence. She excelled academically and socially, graduating from high school with a host of accolades in several sports programs and organizations.
In the fall of 2012, she made her higher education home at Jackson State University.
“My cousin moved me in. I was super nervous,” she recalls. “I just broke down crying. I was ready to get away from home, but I was a good distance from my family.”
Eventually overcoming her angst, Lawrence’s warm and inviting personality earned her the 2014-2015 title of Miss Sophomore and the 2016-2017 title of Miss Jackson State University.
Building her platform on service, leadership and the mentorship of young ladies, the biology pre-med major admits that adjusting to her crown and heavy college course load has not come easy.
“My biggest challenge while serving as Miss JSU has been balancing everything and knowing where my time is important. I learned the hard way, but it taught me to remain focused,” Lawrence says.
A steady level of perseverance propels the soft-spoken senior closer to her plans of becoming an OB-GYN. However, school work has never distracted her from being true to herself, and Lawrence is adamant that people should follow suit.
“I realize I had to stop seeking validation. If you’re in any type of position and you try to seek validation from everybody, that’s going to drive you crazy and make you lose sight of yourself.”
Nonetheless, the newly crowned queen candidly concedes that there is one thing she would change about herself.
“I would change the fact that I feel that there are things I need to change about myself,” Lawrence says. “God made me in his image. God took his time when he created my heart. So, I’m learning how to embrace it and love on it myself.”