The positions of Mr. and Miss FAMU continue to evolve with each passing year. Those who wear the crown leave a piece of themselves and their legacy with the titles. But behind the titles and glitz, the platforms and fancy clothing, lie students.
Students who attend classes and study groups, go to the mall and manage free time for friends. So, who are Mr. and Miss FAMU, really?
The reigning Miss FAMU, Brooke Smith, is a business administration student from Fort Lauderdale. She said she begins each day at approximately 4:30 a.m. as to “give God his time.” Smith said with 7 a.m. classes, she wakes up early to pray and uses the quiet time to plan the rest of her day.
But once she gets going, it is hard to slow her down. Smith has been active in campus organizations since her freshman year. She served in the Student Government Association, which led to her running for, and becoming, sophomore class vice president. From there, she stayed active in SGA, the National Council of Negro Women, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and the Beta Alpha chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. among other organizations.
To add to her list of organizations to give her time to, Smith came up with the idea to start the Student National Alumni Association. Smith serves as the publicity and recruitment chairwoman.
“It was a part of my platform…students can become lifetime members before they graduate,” she said. “This is the students’ way to give back. Students always ask for more; what more can the school do. You can’t ask for more if you’re not giving it.”
Another aspect of Smith’s platform is dents have sent me cards wanting wanting (FAMU student) mentors. We are the realization of someone else’s future…many people didn’t think we’d be here,” Smith said.
To add to her accomplishments as the “queen,” Smith has partnered with Miss Florida State University to break ground and rebuild a Southside playground, and she continues to make community service her top priority.
She implemented her platform expeditiously, which is impressive to most since Smith was not sure she wanted to run, even up until the 11th hour. But, she prayed over it.
“I questioned my true purpose. But when you have a job to do, you have to say ‘Send me Lord, I’ll do it.'”
However, Mr. FAMU’s story is quite different. Morand is only the fifth male to serve on the royal court as the “king” of the University. And with the position being so new, he is determined to make sure the title has more meaning to the students and alumni than a pretty face.
“This opportunity exemplifies being able to represent so many students and tell students about FAMU,” he said.
But Morand said he thinks in the past, people have voted for superficial reasons instead of looking at “the all-around student.” In an advertisement Morand purchased during his campaign, he made a plea to the student body to “focus on substance.” He said in past years, the title has been based on vanity.
The business administration student and Tampa native said he has risen the standard for the title while still respected those who have reigned in the past.
Morand said he worked hard to get to where he is and did not have to belong to anything special to be noticed. But Morand was a student senator his first three years at Florida A&M and founder of Proactive, the largest volunteer organization on campus. He has been given several honors, including earning the highest vote count as freshman senator.
He has an appeal to the students, yet he said he did not come into his own until the end of high school.
“I came out of my shell in 11th grade and I didn’t run for anything until senior class president.”
Morand said he has been working so hard because he has wanted the crown for so long. Unlike Smith, Morand knew he wanted to be Mr. FAMU when he was in high school. He said two of his sister’s friends, Yolanda Mayo and Melissa St. Joy, served as Miss FAMU, which piqued his interest in the royal court.
“Talking to them (Mayo and St. Joy) and speaking with high school students sounded interesting. I love making an impact on people.”
Though, his dream was in jeopardy during the general election when it was announced he would make it to the run-off election, but was still trailing opponent Brandon Best.
Still, he prevailed as the winner two days later. He had mixed emotions about the election and the victory.
“I thought ‘Students hear me.’ I was grateful they believed in what I had to say. The power of planning and prayer guaranteed it for me,” he said. “Brandon was likable, but I hoped my service, what I had to say and my personality would outweigh that. It was a blessing to win, but the worst part of being Mr. FAMU is knowing that someone with your same passion and drive had to lose.”
Smith and Morand do share one thing in regards to their respective roads to claim their crowns…they owe God and the students for making it possible. Morand even gives special consideration to his campaign staff.
“It is amazing how you can have an effect on people so they want to help you achieve your dream, and you have nothing to offer them. They want to see you have this (and) sacrifice time and energy. I just thank them all.”
Contact Lindsay Pollard at firstname.lastname@example.org