HAMPTON–For the first time ever Hampton University has a “Miss Hampton University” who is not black.
22-year-old Nikole Churchill was crowned Friday night during the annual pageant. She is a senior nursing major at Hampton University. Her mother is 100% Italian and her father is from Guam.
It’s the first time in the fifty year history that “Miss Hampton University” is not black.
“It’s actually an amazing feeling,” said Churchill. “I feel that we have come so far and no one really looks at color anymore.”
Many current students and alumni were surprised by the choice.
“I was very shocked, probably like most people,” said Patrece Parson. She was “Miss Hampton University” from 2003-2004. “She’s a first and we’ve never had one before.”
The vast majority of students at Hampton are black, so some worry Churchill won’t be able to represent the typical Hampton student.
“I think it will be challenging at first. Not just because she’s the first non black winner, but because she’s from the Virginia Beach campus,” said Parson. “Once that initial shock wears off, I do believe the students will come together and work with her.”
Churchill wrote a letter to President Obama in which she says her crowning has not been widely accepted on the HU campus due to her race. She invited the president to speak at the university on the topic of racial tolerance.
“I am hoping that perhaps you would be able to make an appearance to my campus, Hampton University, so that my fellow Hamptonians can stop focusing so much on the color of my skin and doubting my abilities to represent, but rather be proud of the changes our nation is making towards accepting diversity,” wrote Churchill.
Churchill’s coronation will be Wed. Oct. 21.