The dawn of a new era of student-body leadership is happening at Alcorn State University, as students recently elected their next campus queen.
Jillian Mills became the 97th Miss Alcorn State University during the runoff election Thursday, March 30. Mills, a Greenville, Mississippi native majoring in English education, currently serves as Miss Junior. Her prior Student Government Association experience includes serving as freshman class vice president and sophomore class fundraising chairperson. Mills is also a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
The race to the finish was intense as she competed for the crown against her opponent, Jordyn Burns. Mills applauded Burns for running an exceptional campaign with class and dignity.
“Jordyn is phenomenal,” said Mills. “I love her, how she campaigned, and how she carries herself. She’s such a lovely person, and I believe she would’ve served well in this position. But I believe that what God has for you is for you. So, I prayed about the situation and let it be."
This moment has been one that Mills has dreamed about since childhood. She’s eager to begin her reign and is excited for what’s to come.
“Becoming Miss Alcorn has always been a significant goal of mine. I’m overwhelmed with emotions. I’m excited and ready to get to work. This is a fulfilling moment, and I hope to do my best. This moment feels great.”
A former campus queen has inspired Mills to pursue the crown since elementary school. Shequeta Wells-Murphy, a first-grade teacher in the Greenville Public School District who served as the 77th Miss Alcorn State University (2003-2004), was Mills’ fourth-grade teacher and has been a mentor ever since.
The example and inspiration that Mills’ former teacher and mentor has provided catalyze her motivation.
“Mrs. Murphy’s charisma, character, and personality always screamed role model to me. Anything that she told us that she did, I said that I wanted to do it too. So, when she said she was an AKA and former Miss Alcorn, I decided to do the same. So, I stuck with it, and she has mentored me during this process.”
Watching Mills accomplish her dream is a significant moment for Murphy. She is proud to see her former pupil follow in her footsteps.
“I am ecstatic,” said Murphy, the first Greenville native to wear the crown. “I’ve been teaching for 18 years, and every year, I introduce myself to my students by telling them what I’ve done and encouraging them that they can do it too. My story about being Miss Alcorn was inspiring to Jillian, and it became her dream. That dream has come true for her, and I am so proud to be an integral model for her.”
Murphy gives motivating words of encouragement to Mills as she prepares for her future role.
“Represent the people with excellence, pride, and dignity. She is a voice for everyone on campus, so I encourage her to be true to the Alcorn Ode and represent us Alcornites well,” said Murphy.
Alcorn’s heralded legacy inspires Mills to be the next Alcornite to demonstrate excellence.
“Knowing what we stand for as a university inspires me. I want to carry on Alcorn’s legacy and uphold the standard placed before me.”
The throne allows Mills to sharpen her networking and leadership skills. Her goal is to grow professionally and use her enhanced knowledge to make Alcorn even better.
“I believe this position would enhance my leadership skills while also positioning me to network more with others at Alcorn and other HBCUs. I believe reaching out to other HBCUs and sharing ideas and resources would allow us to grow. I think these things would promote change and diversity in our community.”
One of Mills’ key campaign messages was body positivity. Her goal is to show that beauty comes in all shapes.
“I’m looking forward to promoting body positivity. I’m a plus-sized queen, and I’ve always been involved in pageantry and modeling. But, in most cases, it’s always me representing plus-sized models. I want to encourage other plus-sized women that they can also serve with style and grace. Every woman, no matter what size or shape, is beautiful.
Mental health awareness was another point in Mills’ campaign. Mills believes mental health advocacy plays an important role and could lead to even more success on and off campus.
“Students, especially Black students attending HBCUs, face a lot. We should continue to shed light on the importance of mental health, especially in the Black community. Some still don’t realize the importance of mental health, so I want to shine more light on this topic.”
Mills thanked everyone who supported her during her campaign.
“I want to thank my supporters for seeing my vision and believing in me. I’m very appreciative and overwhelmed with joy.”