North Texas Daily

Queen In You helps women of color claim their crowns

Queen In You helps women of color claim their crowns

Queen In You helps women of color claim their crowns
February 19
21:15 2019

Not everyone knows how to properly set a table, name specific eating utensils and identify what those utensils are used for. For members of Queen In You, these things are second nature.  

Queen In You, established at UNT in 2016, is an organization that prepares teenagers from Denton High School and Ryan High School for college and professional life. The organization uses cotillion, a sort of masterclass on proper etiquette, as a guide. Part of the group’s mission is to focus on empowering women of color, who are often left in the lurch or disadvantaged when it comes to college and career prep.     

President Essence Blakesleay and Vice President Adrianna Evans of the Queen In You UNT organization. Queen In You aims to make sure young women of color have people to look up to. Image by: Ashley Gallegos.

Essence Blakesleay, a recreation event sports management junior, is the president of UNT’s Queen In You chapter. She has led the group for two years with the help of an executive board, creating events and making sure every event focuses on the group’s mission.

“I have to make sure that everybody is doing their job the right way, and [that] everybody is getting what they need out of the organization,” Blakesleay said.

Blakesleay said she sees the group members’ interactions with their high school mentees as a big sister/little sister relationship. As an only child, Blakesleay said she had little guidance on the road to college, so being able to form these relationships is particularly important to her. 

“I want to be the person that I needed in high school, especially for the girls we are helping,” Blakesleay said. “They [have a] 50 percent chance of graduating high school and a 25 percent chance of actually going to college. These are people who actually need the help that we are giving.”   

For the members of Queen In You, education is an important first step to success in the workforce and all aspects of life after college.

“Scholarship is our main thing, so we really want to get them ready for college,” Blakesleay said. “We do things like mock interviews, we help them with their FAFSA applications and help them with their resume, college applications and SAT prep as well.”

Adrianna Evans, the vice president of Queen In You, also said she did not have a mentor when she was growing up, but wants to make sure other teenagers in Denton do. 

“This will be an opportunity to help young girls and to push them,” Evans said. “All girls need to have an education because it is important. My mom pushed me, my grandmother has pushed me. Education is key in order for you to make it in the world. I want to be that person to say, ‘Push through, it’s going to be OK, you will make it in the end.’” 

Evans first became involved with cotillion through her church. She said during her cotillion experience, she learned how to navigate the difficulties that come with being a woman in the world.

“What I really like about this organization is that it gives young women the chance to learn [cotillion] information without having to pay an arm and a leg,” Evans said. “That is a big negative aspect to me about the cotillion process, but cotillion itself is a great way to learn more about yourself and to put your best foot forward.” 

Blakesleay participated in debutante, which is similar to cotillion and has some of the same teachings.

“Being women, we have it harder than men,” Blakesleay said. “We have to work harder, we have to be smarter, we have to do better to be on the same level as them. [Debutante] teaches you how to be a boss, how to be a leader and what to do in professional situations.”

Jadia Lampton, secretary of UNT’s chapter of Queen In You, sits in the gazebo outside of the UNT Union. Image by: Ashley Gallegos.

Psychology senior Jadia Lampton, secretary of UNT’s Queen In You, said the organization shares the same core values she has. 

“I tried mentoring before and I really enjoyed it,” Lampton said. “I felt like [Queen In You] would [give] me a good place to make my mark as well. The chance to help girls better themselves even though the odds are stacked against them is something I really wanted to be a part of.” 

One of the organization’s project coordinators, kinesiology junior Tereka Gates, said she joined Queen In You because she wanted to be a part of something bigger than herself and be able to personally contribute positivity to the Denton community.

“When I first got here, I got stuck in a routine that was kind of self-absorbed,” Gates said. “[Queen In You] has really given me a chance to spread the talent that I have gained through my own mentors, like my mom, my grandma, my aunts, and give that knowledge out to other people.”

Kinesiology senior Morgan James, a community service chair, had not participated in any extracurricular activities before becoming a member of Queen In You. She said she took on a leadership position in the club because she wanted to something of merit on campus before graduating. 

“I didn’t want to graduate college without leaving my mark on campus and doing a lot of community service events as well,” James said. “[The organization] has impacted me a lot as a person. I have definitely gotten opportunities to network with other people, I have gained a lot of new friends, and just being on the executive board, I have developed a lot of leadership skills that I know will help me in my career.”

Featured Image: (L-R) Secretary Jadia Lampton, Community Service Chair Morgan James, President Essence Blakesleay, Vice President Adrianna Evans and Project Coordinator Teresa Gates of UNT’s Queen In You chapter sit at the Library Mall. Image by: Ashley Gallegos. 

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Nikki Johnson-Bolden

Nikki Johnson-Bolden

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