08102012_2 HBCU Queens

Check out the September issue of EBONY for more on the 2012 HBCU Campus Queen Winners!

On the day that EBONY photographed the 10 stunning winners of our HBCU Campus Queens contest in Atlanta, my good friend Alicia happened to have some free time. She and her beautiful 8-year-old daughter, Layla, swung by the studio in the afternoon to say hello. Though Layla has left her princess stage behind, queens are an entirely different matter.

As she watched the ladies take their positions in front of the camera with a starstruck gaze, she became uncharacteristically shy. But the kind and gregarious Campus Queens were having none of that! They clustered around Layla, oohing and aahing about how pretty she is, twirling her around so they could look at her dress, letting her tell them all about her school and various activities.

They even posed for pictures with her on the set. Alicia and I could tell that the women were having an effect on Layla as we watched her get more confident in their presence. As they chatted her up, she even began to feel special, taking great care to smooth her hair and tuck the much-complimented dress neatly underneath her as she sat to watch the big group portrait unfold. Viewing the ladies in their formal dresses and crowns, Layla whispered reverently, “Mommy, are they really queens?”

Of course, we explained that these women were queens of their schools, and that if she worked hard, did good things for other people and got good grades, she, too, could be queen of her school one day. Layla nodded her head and with deliberate solemnity told Alicia, “Mommy, I am going to be queen of my school one day. And when I am, I’m going to be just as nice as they are.” Something about the determined, happy look on Layla’s face struck me deeply. I was reminded that it can take just one little act of kindness, one word of encouragement, one phrase of inspiration to point a person in the right direction. Yes, Layla is a little girl impressed by a professional photo studio, a title and some fancy hair jewelry. But the Campus Queens also made her feel good about herself and gave her not just a positive goal but the desire to return the favor to the next girl (or boy) in need of a confidence boost.

We all have the power to positively impact those around us. It’s not necessary to have a crown on your head to pass on a bit of wisdom, deliver an unexpected compliment or make someone’s day with a small act of generosity. And the more you spread your good energy, the better you will feel in return.

Hit me up on Twitter or e-mail me to let me know how you plan on being a positive influence.