The crown of royalty

The Jackson 5 once honored her with a song, and in 1971 Oprah Winfrey wanted to become her. Now, a Florida A&M alumna is competing for the chance to be crowned Miss Black USA.

Eunice Cofie, a 2004 alumna with a bachelor’s degree in molecular biology from Tallahassee, was crowned Miss Black Florida this year. She will go to Gambia, West Africa in May 2008, where she will compete agonist women who represent their respective states, to win the coveted title of Miss Black USA.

Miss Black USA is a scholarship pageant similar to Miss USA that promotes good health, education and leadership in the black community.

Cofie said that winning the title would help her empower black women in the Tallahassee community.

“I hope to inspire black women to dream big and realize that dreams really do come true,” Cofie said. “Black women are the backbone of our communities.”

Cofie lives these words by raising awareness about obesity and diabetes.

She is the coordinator of a children’s diabetes and obesity prevention program called, Project H.E.A.L.T.H., an acronym for the health education and life transforming habits that Dr. Joseph Webster of the Tallahassee Institute for African American Health identified.

“My favorite part of this experience has been promoting my platform,” Cofie said. “It’s a growing issue that people need to address.”

Danielle Lewis, a 2005 FAMU alumna from Cincinnati who became close to Cofie in their undergraduate years, said Cofie is very passionate about health issues affecting her community.

“Eunice stands up for what she believes in,” Lewis said. “She is very passionate about the medical field, and the missionary work that she does.”

Dr. Eric Toran, Cofie’s former pathophysiology professor and advisor for the Student National Medical Association in which she was president, remembers Cofie as being passionate in her studies.

“She always spent time seeking more information after class,” Toran said. “She was a hardworking, good student.”

Toran said he witnessed Cofie making positive contributions to her community. Because of this, he said that Cofie deserves to be crowned Miss Black USA.

“Eunice has given so much of her time to a number of good causes, and she has spent a lot of time doing community service,” Toran said. “The title [of Miss Black USA] is definitely fitting of her, and she represents the state of Florida very well.”

Cofie takes the same pride in her university as she does in her title, Miss Black Florida. And she refuses to look at the negative aspects that the media chooses to shed light on.

“There’s more positive than negative at FAMU,” Cofie said. “[The University] has strong academic programs that train us to expand our thinking and see beyond getting a degree.”

Cofie encourages students to look beyond their diploma and think outside the box.

“Take a look at what’s going on around the world, and see how you can make an impact,” Cofie said. “Thinking globally is important for us to remain on the cutting edge.”

While she was a student, Cofie spent three summers in Ghana, Africa. There, she worked with physicians to provide medical support to people in the community. There, she realized that her life goal was to become a doctor.

Although Cofie has been to Africa three times, her upcoming visit in May will be different. Instead of doing missionary work, Cofie will embark on a mission to be crowned Miss Black USA.

Lewis believes that her friend deserves that crown.

“Miss Black USA is a positive voice that all of America needs to hear,” Lewis said. “I believe that Eunice Cofie is that voice.”