Miss UVI Elisa Thomas made history when she won the title of Miss National Black College Alumni (NBCA) Hall of Fame – becoming the first Miss UVI to win that crown. Thomas competed against 20 other college queens from Historically Black Colleges and Universities from across the nation on Sept. 27, in Atlanta. In addition to winning the crown, Thomas won the “Hats and Heels” segment of the competition.
“Being crowned Miss National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame is an amazing feeling,” said Thomas. “To hear my name and school be called literally brought tears to my eyes. I'm proud that I was able to achieve this national recognition not only for the prestigious University of the Virgin Islands, but also for the United States Virgin Islands.” She continued, “I'm honored to represent an organization geared toward the relevance of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, promoting African American achievement, individual school pride and collective HBCU pride.”
“We are elated Elisa will be representing our HBCUs during the next twelve months as Miss Hall of Fame,” said Thomas Dortch, Jr., NBCA Hall of Fame Foundation founder and board chairman. “She has proven herself to be very capable of conveying the message of educational excellence that our HBCUs send. I am also happy that the University was able to have one of its queens to hold this coveted title.”
"I am extremely proud of Elisa Thomas, Miss UVI, for achieving this outstanding honor of being selected as Miss National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame,” said UVI President Dr. David Hall. “She represented UVI in an excellent way, and now she will represent Historically Black Colleges and Universities.” He continued, “When we consider the number of HBCUs and the important role they have played in the past and will continue to play in the future, this honor takes on an even greater significance. Elisa's accomplishment is a compelling reminder that UVI prepares our students to take on and lead the world.”
“The entire UVI Division of Student Affairs is especially proud of Elisa,” said Doris Battiste, dean of students on the St. Thomas Campus. “This is something that we dreamed of for many years and we finally got it. We believe that she will represent UVI and the NBCA Hall of Fame well during her reign.”
“This win increases awareness that our students are second to none,” said Battiste. “Although we are geographically isolated from other HBCUs, our students measure up and do very well academically and socially. They assume leadership positions locally, regionally, nationally and internationally and serve their communities admirably.”
Thomas traveled to the Miss NBCA Hall of Fame Queens competition in Atlanta with UVI Student Activities Supervisor Leon Lafond and UVI Chaperone Marisel Melendez. She also had a group of 10 supporters, including two integral camp members Sheldon Turnbull and Lorna Freeman that assisted her in the journey and attend the show.
“To see Elisa successfully advance in the competition was superb,” said Lafond. “The various standing ovations that she got from her talent during the preliminaries and the final competition definitely spoke for itself. She is the true definition of a queen.”
Lafond thanked “Team Bubbles” – Thomas’ team of supporters who assisted her during the competition. “Without everyone’s support, none of this would be possible,” he said. “Team work makes the dream work.”
Thomas is a communication major at UVI. She said that her communications classes solidified her presentation skills. “Communications has definitely helped me,” said Thomas, who plans to own and host her own talk show. She also plans to start an organization geared toward pre-adolescent girls entitled the "Building Blocks of Empowerment," become a published writer and start a college fund for students in need of financial assistance. “I just think it's imperative that we always ask ourselves what we can do for others, because any of us would not be where we are today, if it wasn't for someone assisting us along the way,” she said.
The NBCA queen contestants are judged in four categories, including talent, poise, image and personal and private interviews. In the interviews the contestant has up to two minutes to introduce herself and discuss her platform. As Miss NBCA Hall of Fame, Thomas will serve as a national representative and advocate of HBCUs, and was awarded an academic scholarship and other prizes.
“Elisa is unquestionably a person who is the essence of beauty and intellect,” said Prince Brown, NBCA Hall of Fame Foundation executive director. “We look very much forward to having her represent us.”
During her reign as Miss NBCA Hall of Fame, Thomas plans to be an advocate promoting the importance of HBCU's, serve as an effective panellist at the various seminars, campus tours and the events she attends. She will also promote more awareness and preventative measures to Domestic Violence. Her platform as Miss UVI and Miss NBCA Hall of Fame is “Combatting domestic violence by Building Stronger Women from a Young Age.” “If I'm able to positively influence at least one person, then I feel I have efficiently carried out my duty as a true queen – a humble servant,” said Thomas.
The NBCA queens competition is sponsored by the NBCA Hall of Fame organization, which is dedicated to the growth and development of HBCUs through scholarships, internships, training and technical assistance, alumni recognition, and programs to encourage humanitarian involvement.