111th Miss FAMU is True Rattler Royalty

Miss FAMU Michelle Johnson — photo by Ernest Nelfrard

Florida A&M University’s newly crowned Miss FAMU literally has royal blood pumping through her veins.

Following spring elections on April 4, it was announced that junior business administration and theater student Michelle Marva Johnson, 21, would serve as the 111th Miss FAMU; a position the Johnson family is no stranger to.

In 1981, Johnson’s mother, Vivian Johnson, served as the 75th Miss FAMU while her brother became the 12th Mr. FAMU in 2011.

Coming from a long line of Rattlers – her mother graduated from the FAMU’s College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and her father from the School of Business and Industry, among other relatives – making the decision attend the university was a given from the time she was born.

However, the legacy of her family’s royal lineage on the hill was weighty on the Dallas, Texas native as she began her own journey at FAMU three short years ago.

“Of course coming to FAMU there was a lot of pressure and expectations. People questioned ‘is she going to do it? Is she not going to do it?’ I really wanted my actions to speak louder than my words,” Johnson said. “So I really just was myself. I joined stuff that I enjoyed to do. I knew that Miss FAMU was a leadership position so I gained qualities as a leader through the organizations I joined.”

Although Johnson will now be able to add her newly elected position to her portfolio, her resume already reflects a wide range of involvement that helped mold her into Miss FAMU material.

She is a resident assistant on campus, she is vice-president of the Peer Mentor First Year Experience Program, vice-president of the Dallas Club, a presidential ambassador, holds an executive position in the Beta Alpha chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. and runs her own pageant coaching service called MARVAlous Pageantry.

Campaign manager and close friend Sean Sanders, 21, a graduating broadcast journalism student, has seen Michelle’s growth up close with her journey to claim the title.

“When Michelle finally realized that her dream was not because of her mom and brother, but it was more so in spite of them and finding her own light, that’s when she decided to do it,” Sanders said. “Once she realized that, nothing was stopping her.”

Though Sanders is graduating from FAMU this spring, he is excited for what is in store for the student body with Johnson leading the royal court.

“One of the common misconceptions about Mister and Miss FAMU is that they’re really just about the face, that they really don’t do much,” Sanders continued.  “But I’m excited to see Michelle work because she does it by nature. The crown isn’t going to stop what she was already doing.”

Michelle’s brother Frederick Johnson, 27, a graduate of the School of Business and Industry and former Mister FAMU who currently works in film production in Los Angles, reiterates that sentiment.

“Michelle has always been an extremely selfless person and is willing to help anyone. And that’s what the position is about, service,” Johnson said. “It is second nature for her to do what is best for the greater good of the people.”

In terms of advice for her younger sister, Johnson’s words of wisdom are simple: remain true to herself.

“People change. Some people aren’t as friendly as they were prior to having the position. I want her to continue to be that personable student on campus that’s not only in this position representing the students to the best of her abilities, but behaves as one of the students as well,” Johnson said.

While one of Johnson’s lifelong dreams has been actualized, the rising senior has high hopes post-graduation to earn her Masters of Business Administration at FAMU and attend Florida State University’s film school for her Masters of Fine Arts. She plans on one day starting her own production company with her older brother and young sister–who will begin her journey as a Rattler in the fall.

But for now, Johnson is focused on the year ahead and helping spread a message of hope to the young girls watching her with aspirations of their own.

“I hope young girls can see that they can do whatever they set their mind to. If you want something, focus on that goal, keep your eye on the prize and don’t compare yourself to anyone,” Johnson said. “If you really want something, go all out for it. Don’t let anyone stop you from getting what is that you desire.”

Though she is the next chapter in a long history of Rattler royalty, Johnson makes it clear that being 111th Miss FAMU is an honor, not a rite of passage.

“I don’t want people to think I’m doing this because my mom did it,” Johnson said. “I want them to know this is Michelle Marva Johnson’s doing and that I want to make a difference and that I want to serve.”