Miss Black Illinois visits Eastern, uplifts women

T'Nerra Butler, Multicultural Editor

As an alumna of Eastern and the reigning Miss Black Illinois 2015, Destiny Lee said she has always tried to do things with style and confidence.

Graduating in 2013 receiving her Bachelor’s in Health studies, Lee said she started pageantry while attending Eastern. She competed in both Miss Black and Gold in 2008 and Miss Black EIU in 2011. In Miss Black EIU, Lee was third runner up and a winner in the Miss Ebony and Miss Creative Expression categories.

In Oct. of 2014, Lee was crowned Miss Black Illinois 2015 and now is an ambassador of the Miss Black Illinois Scholarship.

Lee stopped by at Eastern for a visit, which included a workshop where she taught a crowd of women on the campus what it is like to be in a pageant. Lee said the workshop’s activities ranged from teaching the women how to publically speak to how to walk on stage. Lee sad about 27 ladies attended the workshop including Miss Black EIU and Miss Black and Gold pageant contestants. She said they also got interview and impromptu practice.

“We talked about building confidence, leadership abilities and we also stressed the importance of knowing the pageant system,” Lee said.

Lee said it was her mission to give back in a different way instead of making an appearance or doing a speech.

“I wanted to bring it to EIU’s campus so I can inspire other young ladies to be more knowledgeable in pageantry,” Lee said. “I wanted to focus on building women up.”

Lee said a couple phone calls helped to get a platform to speak to the women of Eastern. She said because of the status at the university when it comes to the African-American community, she wanted to shine a positive light on students. She said she wanted to provide an uplifting atmosphere.

“It was encouraging young women to have confidence within themselves as well as being able to display their leadership abilities especially on EIU’s campus and through the arts of pageantry,” Lee said.

When it comes to public speaking, Lee said pageantry has heightened her skills to talk in front of a crowd. Lee said this is a vital skill to master and can be perfected while in college.

“Communication is key and people have to be able to articulate their ideas and their point of view effectively and pageantry is great way to build on those skills,” Lee said.

Angela Davis, a senior Sociology major, went to the workshop and said she sees Lee as a role model.

“When she came down here to shed light on what she learned, she was trying to instill in us what was installed in her,” Davis said. “She told us the qualities that you need to have as an African-American woman in order to be looked at as a strong figure.”

Going to an event with a goal of uplifting her spirit is what Davis said she found. Davis said the workshop touched on self-worth, which she said was an important part of being a woman.

“You have to have self-love and confidence,” Davis said. “I feel like those are two things that a lot of women may struggle with and those are two things that I took away and I need that.”

Davis said Lee brought motivation to the campus. She said Lee is able to stand as a role model and not many young women have somebody they can look up to.

“We needed that workshop just to see that you can do anything you put your mind to,” Davis said. “Sometimes we get sidetracked with so much going on socially and academically, so everyone needs that push to keep going.”


T’Nerra Butler can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].