By Eiman Zuberi —
Sophomore Mikaylah Clipper was crowned Miss Black U of L at the pageant in Strickler Hall March 30.
Originally from Cleveland, Clipper moved to Louisville in middle school. This was her first pageant.
“I’m usually reserved and shy,” Clipper said. “I needed a lot of confidence to walk across the stage.”
That confidence got her through the five phases of the pageant and landed her the crown.
The first part of the pageant, the private interview, was held a few days prior, in front of a panel of judges. Clipper said she missed the practice round that took place before, and was very nervous going into the room the day of the interview.
“I’m witty when I’m nervous. So I just showed my personality,” she said. “I joked that it felt like ‘The Apprentice’.”
Later came the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) portion, in which the contestants discussed a man or woman of color who has contributed to STEM and why they admire them.
“My answer was Henrietta Lacks. I have always been inspired by her story, even before the pageant,” Clipper said.
The next section was the talent competition.
With the help of a mentor, Clipper recited a portion of “Phenomenal Woman” by Maya Angelou, a poet she greatly admires. She recited the poem entirely in American Sign Language, with a voice-over playing in the background.
“I took American Sign Language 101 last semester. This semester, I am in 102. It is really a great class,” Clipper said. “It came out a lot better than I thought it would.”
The final portion was the formal section, with an on-stage question. Clipper joked about being “resourceful” and wearing an old prom dress, since contestants are expected to dress very formally for this last section.
A judge asked her what she thought the most underrated profession was.
“This was around the time of the teachers protesting, so I know people were expecting me to say that,” she said.
However, Clipper wanted to give an unexpected answer. She explained how she wanted to encourage people to think outside the box, surprising them with her pastor answer.
“I have a friend whose dad is a pastor. I can see how hard he works, and it is inspiring,” she said.
The pageant is an annual fundraiser hosted by the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) at U of L.
The Miss Black U of L’s goal is to expose NSBE to the Louisville community, as well as to raise money for the chapter and to spotlight the beauty, talent and achievements of young African American women. Clipper received an educational scholarship for winning.
Youth in the community are invited to the pageant showcase their talents as guests. This year’s special performances included the Black Diamond choir and the Western Middle School Hardsteppers.
“This year we made the decision to have the girls volunteer at the Family Scholar House to help fulfill our mission of positively impacting the community. We plan to donate a portion of the profit to the Family Scholar House,” Pageant Director and student Kendra Ford said.
After winning her first pageant, Clipper said she has no plans to enter another pageant. She said she could potentially see a Miss Kentucky or Derby Princess title in the future, but she has time to think about that.
Photo by Taylor Webster / The Louisville Cardinal