On April 6, 2017, Isaiah Reed and Victoria Grimes made Bison history as they were crowned Mr. and Miss Howard University for the 2017-2018 school year. Reed, who is a sophomore theatre arts/acting major from Patterson, New Jersey, served as Mr. College of Arts and Sciences during the 2016-2017 school year. Grimes is a sophomore finance major from Destin, Florida who served as Miss School of Business during the 2016-2017 school year and Miss Freshman during the 2015-2016 school year. In a recent interview, Reed and Grimes discussed their motives for running for Mr. and Miss Howard, their goals for the upcoming school year, and their advice for Howard students who are interested in serving the campus community.
How does it feel to be the newly crowned Mr. and Miss Howard University?
Grimes: [Laughs] It hasn’t hit me yet. Honestly, I still wake up, and I’m still the same Victoria. I’m really excited to start implementing my platform and meeting all the students who will [comprise] the new HU21 class.
Reed: It hasn’t hit me yet either. I’m just excited to see what the [next] year is going to bring and to start implementing my platform.
Briefly describe your platforms.
Grimes: My platform is called “Meet Me at the Finish Line.” Because I was Miss Freshman and Miss School of Business, I want to continue my previous platforms as Miss Howard. My platform involves bringing wellness to students through student engagement, building the bridge between administration and students, and also community engagement.
Reed: My platform, “Always and Forever,” is a spin-off of my platform from Mr. College of Arts and Sciences, “Message to My People.” Howard University has always been the incubator for Black social change, and I feel that now, especially in our 150th year and with the new presidential administration, start being that onset for social change.
What motivated you to run for the royal positions of your respective schools, and then Mr. and Miss Howard?
Grimes: I kind of had a love for the [royal] court and for serving, because I started off as Miss Freshman. Then, I knew that I was passionate about business and redefining the traditional business model, which is why I wanted to serve my school. As I served as Miss School of Business, I became more passionate about creating programs that were inclusive for all students and wanting to be a representation of everyone in the six different colleges we have in the undergraduate school.
Reed: I was excited to run for Mr. COAS because I had a vision for my platform. As Mr. COAS I could really implement that platform and become a student ambassador for the College of Arts and Sciences. [In becoming Mr. Howard] Since my freshman year of high school, Howard has been my dream school. I just want to represent the school the best way I know how.
What do you hope to accomplish as Mr. and Miss Howard?
Grimes: As Miss Howard, I want to accomplish more communication between administration and the students. Because Miss Howard is a representation of what a Howard student really is, I want that positive relationship with administration so that students are able to voice their concerns more easily and see their administration in a more positive light. Also, I hope to accomplish a better community relationship between the people who live in the Shaw-Howard neighborhood and the students attending school in the community.
Reed: I agree. My focus this year is to really have Howard University become more community engaged…There is a lot of gentrification going on, but I don’t think that should stop us from being involved in the community.
Mr. and Miss Howard are traditionally known as the “faces” of the university. How do you plan to continue the legacy for the Mr. and Miss Howard brand?
Grimes: Honestly, I think each different Mr. and Miss Howard has their own personality, their own attributes, and their own characteristics that they bring to the role. I think Isaiah and I are going to continue to bring positive reactions to the position, but I also want to create my own legacy through my programs and my platform.
Reed: [Laughs] I agree with everything she said. [The position] is about our representing Howard and staying true to ourselves. It’s about remaining humble and being the best Howard students we know how to be. Although we are familiar and respect the legacies of the previous Mr. and Miss Howards, it is our duty to create our own legacy while upholding the importance [of the role].
What is some advice you would give to students who are interested in serving Howard University, but unsure where to start?
Grimes: Get involved anywhere you can. If you want to be involved in student council, reach out to someone in HUSA. Reach out to someone on royal court if you think you want to represent your school or college. Or even start off by asking someone to go out for a cup of coffee if you are interested in learning about their position. That’s how I started my journey in royal court. I asked the previous Miss Howard to sit down and have a cup of coffee with me, because I didn’t know how to get involved. That could be the first step toward getting involved.
Reed: Get involved with other organizations. I guarantee there is someone who has the same idea you have. No programs or community service events goes on at Howard without a collection of people working together. Definitely reach out to people and get your ideas heard.
What are some final words that you would like to share?
Grimes: For anyone who will read the story or come into contact with us, know that we started at some place. I started at a point that is completely different from where I am now. I want to be an inspiration to people. There’s growth; there is a lot of growth that can be made at Howard.
Reed: Everything I do is for my parents. Both of my parents passed away, so I’m motivated to be the best man I could be. I want to be the best man and make my parents proud of who I am.