When Augusta University’s new Homecoming court sat down to reflect on their wins, they donned jeans, sweats, and sneakers, transforming from the glamour of the weekend back into regular college students.
Winning the titles during “Blue Vogue” Homecoming 2023 were Queen A’nasia Monford, King Kalyb Bussey, Duchess Eva-Solange Joseph and Duke Omari Matthew. The new royalty say they look forward to addressing the needs of students this year.
“I ran on a campaign of making everyone feel included,” said Joseph, a freshman from Grayson, Georgia, who is studying pre-nursing in pursuit of a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the College of Nursing. “Growing up in America but with a Caribbean background, it was important to make sure everyone was represented.”
Joseph said she is at Augusta University because of her high school teacher, who recommended AU’s nursing program. She had not yet heard of Jaguar Nation.
“I came on a tour, and it was amazing. Shout out to the orientation leaders and ambassadors. They definitely did their job.”
One of five duchess candidates, she now thinks her teacher’s recommendation may have been prophetic.
Joseph did the Griddy, a popular dance created by Allen Davis in 2018, that went viral on TikTok in 2021, prior to being crowned Feb. 24, at the homecoming dance in the Jaguar Student Activities Center Roscoe Williams Ballroom. Nearly 300 students took to the dance floor, snapped pictures inside the Vogue magazine-inspired photo booth, and sipped on non-alcoholic “Vogue and Pose” mocktails.
Matthew credits AAMI, the African American Male Initiative, with preparing him to throw his hat in the race.
“It already felt like I had a presence on campus,” said the 18-year-old from Dacula, Georgia, studying business in Hull College of Business. “I embody all my flaws and use them in a way to execute. We were made in the image of the Lord, regardless. It’s not how we get there but who will step up and lead us there. The things I want to change are the things people told me they want to see change. Someone has to lead because not everyone can be a follower.”
Monford knows something about followers. She gained hundreds of new ones due to a social media blitz arguably fit for a marketing class. The Greensboro, Georgia, native arrived at AU in 2019 wanting to become homecoming queen. The title eluded her in high school.
“This year, I didn’t want to graduate and say I left something undone,” said Monford. “I didn’t get people to just vote for me. I sought to build connections. It was more than the crown. Growing up, you don’t see a lot of plus-sized girls doing this. Being that light and voice for people is what did it for me. I’ve been crying since Friday.”
The 22-year-old wowed the audience at Christenberry Fieldhouse during halftime of the Jaguars’ game against Clayton State University. Wearing a floor-length, red sequined gown, the senior psychology major in the Pamplin College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences was escorted by her father. They joined seven other contenders and their escorts center court for the big announcement. The crowd erupted in applause and screams as each name was called.
“My overall goal has been to help people,” Monford added.
Bussey knows this better than anyone.
“It is true, ‘Nasia called me 30 minutes before the application deadline and told me to sign up. ‘You need to run, she said.’ I literally submitted my application five minutes before the window closed,” said Bussey. “I have to thank her because she pushed me out of my comfort zone. If she hadn’t had faith in me, I wouldn’t be in this position.”
The specialist in the Georgia Army National Guard plans to use his position to increase involvement on campus by modeling AU’s six core values and encourage others to do the same.
Even if I had lost, I still would have been happy because I’ve already made a difference on this campus,” said Monford.
Bussey added, “It was very touching to connect with people I had never met before.”
“I don’t feel incapable; I’m learning as I go. I should be able to make a good impact,” said Joseph.
Matthew concluded, “This is the beginning of my legacy.”