Scholarship showcase highlights African-American men at K-State

Jakki Thompson | Collegian All eight of the men competing in the second Mr. Crimson and Cream Scholarship Showcase lined the stage after the opening number in the K-State Student Union Grand Ballroom Saturday night. From left to right: Jonathan Coleman, junior in sociology and criminology, Ryan Ewing, junior in marketing, Eric Brown, sophomore in mechanical engineering, Sam Yeboah, sophomore in marketing and business administration, Arrison Davis, senior in business administration, Chikezie Ehie, senior in chemical engineering, Jacob Handy, junior in social sciences, and Ike McCloud III, freshman in open option.

The packed crowd in the K-State Student Union’s Grand Ballroom rose and cheered as all eight men in the second Mr. Crimson and Cream Scholarship Showcase took the stage for their opening number. The Eta Gamma chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority concluded their Crimson and Cream Week Saturday night with the scholarship showcase.

“I hope it went as successful as it could have gone,” said Briana Hawkins, sophomore in criminology and vice president for Poize Hip Hop Dance Team, which, along with the K-State Classy Cats, provided performers for the opening number. “The performance was different this year than last year, due to the bringing in of eight women to dance with them. I was most worried about the crowd outcome and how they felt about it.”

The first place title, Mr. Crimson and Cream, was awarded to Sam Yeboah, sophomore in business administration and marketing. The second place title, Mr. Crimson, was awarded to Ed Brown, junior in sociology and criminology, and the third place title, Mr. Cream, was awarded to Ryan Ewing, sophomore in open option.

Contestants were judged in five categories: introduction, formal wear, sports wear, talent and question and answer. The men began working on their introduction and talent portions during winter break. Jasmine Walker, planning and programming director for Delta Sigma Theta sorority and senior in public relations, said rehearsals for the showcase started a week before the semester. The week leading up to the showcase saw practices every day.

“This was definitely an event I had to step outside my comfort zone for,” Ewing said. “I didn’t realize how hard pageants were. People need hard work and dedication coming into something like this. Without them, you will fail.”

With multiple football players, academic scholars and entrepreneurs in this year’s lineup, these men did not seem like typical pageant contestants. Adrene Evans, senior in human resources management, social sciences and business administration, said she spoke with five of the men involved to get them to participate.

“It was phenomenal to see these men go from zero to 10 in just two weeks,” Evans said. “These are not the typical guys who would do pageants. But, for some of these guys, it was about showing them that there is more to life than just sports — that there is more out there.”

Christina Love, president of the Geary, Riley and Saline Alumnae chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and project coordinator for Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance in the College of Human Ecology, was one of the four judges in this year’s showcase. Love said she expected great things from the collegiate chapter at K-State. She said events Delta Sigma Theta host always try to include their five-point thrust: economic development, educational development, international awareness and involvement, physical and mental health and political awareness and involvement.

“The overall quality of the contestants is what I looked for,” Love said. “I also look forward to see what the collegiate chapter of Delta Sigma Theta at K-State has to bring and offer for the rest of this school year.”

Walker said one of the main goals for this year’s showcase was sponsorship from local businesses. She said her chapter had begun formulating ways to sell sponsorships during the fall 2012 semester, as well as taking packets to local businesses and getting the men competing and other community members involved.

Walker said she has been in pageants her entire life, and knows how beautiful they can be. She also said there is nothing else like this at K-State.

“There is nothing at K-State for African-American men to say, ‘Hey, we’re here; we’re talented; we’re educated and we are handsome’,” Walker said. “For a long time, it was an untapped market.”

She said she was most excited to see the talent portion. She said the men this year were great and had contagious personalities with great talents. She said she liked talent the best because everyone has their own niche, and in the talent portion they are able to do what they know best.

“This is my last year working on this pageant,” Walker said. “My chapter and I put all of our effort into this event. I hope that I was able to leave a great legacy for those who carry on this event, as well as that I inspired a few people.”