The Hilltop Monitor spoke with Shakiyla Hughes, senior psychology, communication and Applied Critical Thought and Inquiry (ACT-In) major. Hughes, representative of Zeta Tau Alpha sorority, was crowned homecoming queen at at the homecoming football game Sept. 30.

Hughes shared what winning homecoming queen meant to her.

“Initially it was trivial contest, a reason for me to get dressed up and change my hair, but it turned out to be something more than that. I was given the chance to represent an organization that is so crucial to me. It meant a lot. Winning homecoming queen came at a critical moment in my life. My world had just been turned upside down. Life was giving me a run for my money and I wasn’t winning. Along with the women in my sorority, enough people thought I was worthy of such a title and they voted for me. Hearing, seeing and feeling all the support from such a multitude of people warmed my heart. It reenergized my life and I appreciated it so very much.”

Hughes also spoke of her time at William Jewell College and what drives her to succeed.

“Time is crazy and it went by so fast. I can’t believe it’s almost over. My time here at Jewell has been full of laughter, love, tears and an abundance of knowledge. I’ve had the chance to learn new things about the world, about the way people work, about myself and what I can and can’t handle. Was it always easy? No. Was I always happy? No. No one ever told me it would be perfect, no one told me anything. Actually if somebody had told me exactly how these past four years at Jewell would’ve played out, moment by moment, I wouldn’t have believed them. I wouldn’t be able to fathom that this would become the place where I would be simultaneously disrespected and misused, while being motivated to succeed, to grow, to live. I have never loved to hate a place so much, but I owe this place so much. It is because of this place, these people and every tumultuous situation I faced here that I’m able to say with confidence, ‘I can do anything.’”

“My family is so imperfect, but they are beautiful and they are mine. They always will be. No matter what I do, who I become or where I go. My family will always be there for me, in my corner, rooting me on and praying for me. They mean the world to me. Everything I do, I do it for them. Ensuring that I gain the greatest amount of success is for more than just them to be proud. I want to secure a worry-free lifestyle for my mother and grandfather. I want to inspire and encourage my sisters to chase their wildest dreams and be happy. Each time I think about giving up, I remember that this isn’t just for me. It’s for them, my family. They need this more than me.”

“All I can offer is something one of my best friends used to say when we began this Jewell journey. She’d look at me, and say ‘Everything will be alright in the end and if everything’s not alright, it’s not the end.’ This can serve as a reminder to keep pushing, don’t give up because it could be worse, but it will get better. Keep your heads up, kiddos, and never stop shooting for the stars.”

Photos by Cassie Hayes.

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