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Welcome to the Royal Court

Welcome to the Royal Court

Miss JSU title a crowning achievement for Gabrielle Baker
by Latoya Hentz-Moore

She is most certainly beautiful, fashionable and charming, but the 21-year-old crowned Miss JSU is, above all else, passionate about helping students and promoting the university.

“I essentially pursued the crown of Miss JSU because I love my university,” says Gabrielle Baker.

That love is evident in the Memphis native’s many activities. A mass communications major with a minor in political science, Baker has been active in the Student Government Association, Pre-Alumni Association, Dance Ensemble, MADDRAMA Performance Troupe and Essence of a Lady Tiger. She’s also in the W.E B. Du Bois-Harvey Honors College and was a spring initiate of the Delta Pi Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.

Her platform,“Thee Real Experience: Providing Real Service, Exemplifying Real Virtue, and Promoting Real Unity,” emphasizes mental, physical and spiritual development.

“I think HBCUs provide a unique experience that is vital for all students during their college tenure. As Miss Jackson State, I want to give my peersa high-quality experience that results in a feeling that will linger in their hearts forever,” says Baker. “Dr. (William) Bynum plays a really big part in student-centeredness, and I really want to be a reflection of that.”

Understanding the importance of student morale, Baker says, “when students are happy, they talk positive about the university to different people. Word of mouth is a big form of recruitment that we take for granted. Student morale can result in increased enrollment and having a big student population issomething that I am very passionate about.”

Baker ‘s crowning achievement also exemplifies the importance of perseverance.

“My journey to Miss JSU began in fifthgrade,” recounts Baker. “I competed in pageants every year beginning in middle school and throughout high school,butI was always the first runner-up.”

Undaunted, she stayed the course.

“I ran for freshman vice president, Miss Sophomore and Miss Black and Gold. I lost all of those competitions,so I’m a firm believer in the motto—never get discouraged,” Baker said. “Still, when it was time to run for Miss JSU, I was uneasy about doing it,but my peers and teachers encouraged me to go for it. I am so grateful for all of my encouragers. They could see Miss JSU in me before I saw it in myself.”

Former titleholders also served as inspiration. “Mea Ashley is just everything a queen needs to be – graceful, fierce, smart and beautiful. Lori Jackson is assertive, LaSonia Hall exudes meekness, and Sarah Brown is a leader. I was not fortunate to be here when Sarah reigned, but from the stories I’ve heard she led this campus with humility and wisdom.”

Baker, whose ambition is to someday work as an entertainment publicist, now wants to leave her own mark for aspiring queens and the next generation of Jacksonians.

“I want my legacy to remind people ofhow Gabby made them feel. I want them to say that I was kind, diligent and a shining light for my university.”


Mister JSU: Campus king the genuine thing
by Kayla Smith

She is most certainly beautiful, fashionable and charming, but the 21-year-old crowned Miss JSU is, above all else, passionate about helping students and promoting the university.

Darrian Jackson, Mister JSU 2018, wants to make sure college students enjoy their experience. Charles A. Smith/JSU

Darrian Jackson, Mister JSU 2018, wants to make sure college students enjoy their experience. Charles A. Smith/JSU

“I essentially pursued the crown of Miss JSU because I love my university,” says Gabrielle Baker.

That love is evident in the Memphis native’s many activities. A mass communications major with a minor in political science, Baker has been active in the Student Government Association, Pre-Alumni Association, Dance Ensemble, MADDRAMA Performance Troupe and Essence of a Lady Tiger. She’s also in the W.E B. Du Bois-Harvey Honors College and was a spring initiate of the Delta Pi Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. Her platform,“Thee Real Experience: Providing Real Service, Exemplifying Real Virtue, and Promoting Real Unity,” emphasizes mental, physical and spiritual development.

“I think HBCUs provide a unique experience that is vital for all students during their college tenure. As Miss Jackson State, I want to give my peersa high-quality experience that results in a feeling that will linger in their hearts forever,” says Baker. “Dr. (William) Bynum plays a really big part in student-centeredness, and I really want to be a reflection of that.”

Understanding the importance of student morale, Baker says, “when students are happy, they talk positive about the university to different people. Word of mouth is a big form of recruitment that we take for granted. Student morale can result in increased enrollment and having a big student population issomething that I am very passionate about.”

Baker ‘s crowning achievement also exemplifies the importance of perseverance.

“My journey to Miss JSU began in fifthgrade,” recounts Baker. “I competed in pageants every year beginning in middle school and throughout high school,butI was always the first runner-up.”

Undaunted, she stayed the course.

“I ran for freshman vice president, Miss Sophomore and Miss Black and Gold. I lost all of those competitions,so I’m a firm believer in the motto—never get discouraged,” Baker said. “Still, when it was time to run for Miss JSU, I was uneasy about doing it,but my peers and teachers encouraged me to go for it. I am so grateful for all of my encouragers. They could see Miss JSU in me before I saw it in myself.”

Former titleholders also served as inspiration. “Mea Ashley is just everything a queen needs to be – graceful, fierce, smart and beautiful. Lori Jackson is assertive, LaSonia Hall exudes meekness, and Sarah Brown is a leader. I was not fortunate to be here when Sarah reigned, but from the stories I’ve heard she led this campus with humility and wisdom.”

Baker, whose ambition is to someday work as an entertainment publicist, now wants to leave her own mark for aspiring queens and the next generation of Jacksonians.

“I want my legacy to remind people ofhow Gabby made them feel. I want them to say that I was kind, diligent and a shining light for my university.”


LaCurtis Powell, student government association president, wants to inspire students with his leadership. Charles A. Smith/JSU

LaCurtis Powell, student government association president, wants
to inspire students with his leadership. Charles A. Smith/JSU

LaCurtis Powell, student government association president, brings an extensive leadership resume to his role.

The ROTC cadet, on track to become a second lieutenant this spring, began his path to the presidency when elected Mr. Freshman. During his tenure, he was responsible for leading community service projects for the class. He also created an organization called the Democrats and registered more than 200 Jackson State University students to vote.

“This initiative allotted me the opportunity to raise student awareness for voter registration because Jackson State has its own precinct,” the senior criminal justice major said.

During his sophomore year, the Jackson native was appointed director of public relations for the cabinet of Kendall Bunch, SGA president 2016-2017.

Powell, an Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity member, continued his leadership journey as president of the junior class. Duties included hosting campus events and class meetings and leading community service projects. Mirroring his tenure as Mr. Freshman, Powell decided again to expand his role by hosting ACT workshops for high school students in the Jackson Public School District. Once his term ended, Powell didn’t plan on pursuing another student government association role. “I had plans of being a regular student, but the campus population needed me,” he said.

With a wealth of knowledge regarding the position, he decided to campaign for the 2018-2019 SGA presidency. His platform, “Give P.O.W.E.L.L. to the people” – “Promoting Opportunities, Work, Experience, and Lasting Leadership” – continues to shape his advocacy for students.

“I have been in the organization for years, so I have seen the good and the bad. After watching all the former SGA presidents, I knew what worked and what didn’t work. The students expressed to me that my knowledge, experience, energy and transparency was essential – so I ran.”

It was, in fact, those same qualities that brought another leadership role to Powell this year, this time on a national level. He was chosen to serve as the director of legal affairs for the National Consortium of Historically Black Colleges and Universities of Student Government Association Presidents.

“It made me feel great that I can represent JSU to the best of my ability,” he said.

As president of the SGA, the 21-year-old strives to “increase student morale and keep students well-informed as to what is happening on and off campus.” Powell, too, reinforces the importance of students supporting JSU after graduation.

“One day we will all graduate from Jackson State University, and I feel like if we invest in our school now, it would be easier later.”

Finally, Powell hopes his efforts will serve as example to others, including future SGA presidents.

“I really want to inspire people to get out and be active on and off campus and represent Jackson State University to the best of their ability,” he said. “When I graduate, I want everyone to remember that LaCurtis actually listened to the students and that he was actually a voice for the voiceless.”

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