February is not only a month dedicated to love, but it is a month dedicated to history.

And to kick off Black History Month at Mason, there will be events upon events, including the anticipated 2013 Miss Black GMU Pageant.

The Miss Black GMU Pageant hasn’t always been just a women’s pageant – students may remember previous years at Mason when there was the Mr. and Miss Black GMU Pageant.

However, this year Mason’s trying out something new by having the pageant for women and focusing on the importance of scholarship, community service, philanthropy and academic excellence.

“The contestants can benefit from competing in several ways,” explained Canesha Swift, Director of the Miss Black GMU Pageant. “[The contestants] will be raising awareness about issues at Mason during their pageant platform; they can be acknowledged by the community for leadership and academic excellence; this could be a stepping stone for some students to expand their network and become a student leader; and winning this title is a great opportunity to be at the forefront of uniting the black community and Mason at large.”

The 2013 Miss Black GMU Pageant will continue to recognize leadership and excellence to further each contestant’s goal for academic and personal success, as well as bring together Mason and the university’s Black community.

Each contestant is involved in many aspects of Mason’s student life, but philanthropy and community service seem to be the activities the pageant contestants hold with a high priority.

“My philanthropy for the pageant is Breast Cancer Awareness,” stated Jasmine Young, a junior at Mason studying Integrated Studies with a concentration in Legal Studies who is competing in this year’s pageant. “I am raising money for one of Virginia Oncology’s partners which is the Cancer Care Treatment Center of Tidewater, who provides lunches for patients coming in for treatment. I am passionate about my philanthropy because my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and has benefited from Cancer Cares services. That is why I am donating all the money that I raise to them.”

Alongside the major changes to the pageant, there will also be a change in the scholarship winnings for 2013’s Miss Black GMU.

“The planning committee has worked very diligently to increase the scholarship amount from $250 to $500,” Swift said.

All contestants of the pageant are extremely qualified to win the pageant, so many would think it would be a tough competition filled with stereotypical cattiness – but that’s not the case for the 2013 Miss Black GMU Pageant.

“It is a competition,” Young said, “and at the end of the day, through the judges’ eyes, hopefully the best possible contestant will be chosen.”

The 2013 Miss Black GMU Pageant will be held on Feb. 15, at 7:30 p.m. in The HUB Ballroom. No tickets are needed, and seating is on a first come, first serve basis.


Ryan Weisser

Entertainment Editor