Miss America visits FAMU

Miss America Ericka Dunlap visited FAMU Friday to promote her platform for cultural diversity and inclusion.

At a luncheon in her honor, complete with accolades and praise from President Fred Gainous, Tallahassee Mayor John Marks III, and SGA President Larry O. Rivers, Dunlap was recognized for her accomplishments.

The University’s First Lady Madie Gainous presented Dunlap with a plaque on behalf of the students and faculty, saying Dunlap “is an inspiration to us all.”

Dunlap spoke of her experience thus far and what led her to take on the tolerance initiative.

“During my childhood, I attended Christian school,” Dunlap said. “All of the black girls at the (neighborhood) playground would ask why I talked white.”

Dunlap said she did not understand what that meant at the time, but she said she tried hard to fit in with the other black girls she knew. As she grew, she saw that there was nothing wrong with proper grammar and wanted to educate others on cultural differences and acceptance.

During the question-and-answer portion, Mr. FAMU, Theodore Goyins, asked Dunlap how she would describe her experience in just one word. The only word Dunlap could think of was, “Whew!”

Yet, she was not at a loss for words describing how she will know the experience was worth it.

“I’ll be able to gauge it when I see that people are receiving my message.”

“She is a role model,” said Marks of his impression of her. “She represents our country and makes all of us proud.”

Dunlap said that even though she attends the University of Central Florida, she still regards FAMU as “the premier HBCU in the country.” She was also glad to see so many FAMU student leaders.

Though it seemed Dunlap was in Tallahassee strictly for her tour of the United States, she squeezed in some personal time to network.

“One of my chapter sorors is involved in the sports and entertainment law society at Florida State,” said Dunlap, a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. She is a member of UCF’s chapter.

Dunlap lists law or Broadway as career choices after her tenure is over and she has graduated from the university. She met with various contacts while at Florida State University for the day.

Dunlap said she was proud to have had the experience to come to FAMU and told students and faculty: “I implore FAMU to continue to carry the torch for cultural diversity.”

Marks had a special surprise for Dunlap when he commended her on encouraging others to dream and to achieve their dreams. Then, he gave her a key to the city of Tallahassee.

“You’re welcome even after your reign,” Marks said. “You’ve got the key to the door.”

Contact Lindsay Pollard at lensay383@hotmail.com.