Written by: Rebekah Ledbetter, ??
In August 2018, Shannon Nia Alomar, Alumna of Beta Eta, Zeta Phi Eta’s Hofstra University chapter, decided to take a new risk and compete for the title of Miss Black New York USA. The payoff for that risk was a crown, sash, state title, a scholarship, and the opportunity to compete for Miss Black USA.
To say the Bronx native is passionate and driven would be an understatement. Besides her crown, she holds many other titles: Associate Producer for CNN Tonight with Don Lemon; Queen Nefertiti in the African-costume company, Your Queen; Social Action Chair for Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated’s Kappa Epsilon Zeta Chapter; and Webmistress for Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated’s Atlantic Region.
Shannon has a strong desire to connect with like-minded students who are passionate about excellence in communications and networking. She found Zeta Phi Eta and was initiated in 2014 through the Beta Eta Chapter at Hofstra University. She knew many of the members through her various on-campus activities, such as her position as a radio host, reporting for Hofstra Today, and writing for The Hofstra Chronicle.
“Overall my time with Zeta Phi Eta was fun and informative! I had the honor of becoming a big sister to the most perfect little sister ever, and I was able to travel through my journey with one of my closest friends in college. Some of the older brothers were so helpful when it came to applying for internships, and in giving me tips on how to market myself in the journalism world.”
Her fondest memory from Zeta Phi Eta was helping to create a homecoming float with her chapter. Their design represented the Disney film The Princess and the Frog, one of her favorites. She says that watching their hard work come to life is something that she will never forget.
If you were to ask Shannon for advice before entering into a communication field after college, she would tell you three things: gain experience while you are in school, study your interests, and seek out internships that aligns with the career path that you want. Alomar knows that classes are important, and they should not be taken for granted. However, experience will take you so far in this field.
Whether by joining communications-related clubs, or by participating in your own outlets outside of school, waiting to get a “real job” in your field can put you further behind in this field. Follow your interests.
Say you hope to be in a news related field, then make sure to stay up to date on the most current headlines. You could meet someone who is the key to your next internship, but then they ask you a current event question and you might not be able to answer. Stay ready, so you do not have to get ready! Internships are crucial to figuring out what to do post-grad. Internships help you gain experience to apply to your future career. If your school does not, take it upon yourself to fine one. “You will not regret it!”
Shannon will admit that her career goals do change, and takes one new forms all the time. She believes that it is important to be open about that fact, especially when speaking to college students.
“It is okay to change your mind when it comes to what you want to do, and explore new things.” Her current career goal is to marry her love of criminal justice advocacy and multimedia.
Despite being a born and raised New Yorker, Shannon’s mother’s side of the family is from the South, and in the South, pageant culture is huge!. Alomar grew up watching pageants and admiring the women who stepped onto those stages to showcase their intelligence, beauty, and service. She was finally driven to participate in a pageant once she found one that she felt connected to.
The Miss Black USA system is unique in several ways. For one, the mission of Miss Black USA is to provide a platform for women of color to showcase their talents, raise their voice for causes they are passionate about, and to show the world the beauty of black women. With this pageant also being a scholarship pageant, the focus is less on looks, but how you think, serve others, and can impact the nation.
After learning what this particular system stood for and seeing the incredible past competitors, she was sold and mustered up the courage to take a leap of faith.
In this year’s Miss Black USA pageant she will be serving as a contestant at large for New York. New York does not currently have a state level pageant, but Alomar hopes to bring one to the state in the future.
Her ultimate goal for her Miss Black USA career, is to bring home the 2019 Miss Black USA crown! She also looks forward in anticipation to participating in a new experience. Having never competed on a national stage before, being Miss Black New York USA is an absolute honor and dream come true. It is something that she will never take for granted.
For other young women hoping to compete in Miss Black USA, she says to just go for it! Do it! If you have the desire, never let anything or anyone stop you. Alomar almost talked herself out of it due to her initial fears, but the other side of that fear unlocked an opportunity that she is eternally grateful for. The national competition is not until August, but this experience has already given her the experience to grow as a woman.
“My confidence has grown, I am finding a new power in my voice, I am seeing an outpouring of love/support from people around me and I am able to serve my community in a way I would have never imagined. It is worth it, and one valuable piece of advice I can provide is to be yourself! Throughout this entire process, I have remained myself, and I believe that has helped to enhance my journey.”
Alomar says the most rewarding part of being Miss Black New York is interacting with youth. She loves everything she has been able to do, but there is something about sharing her story with them and spending time with them in this capacity that is magical.
“Representation matters, and when I am able to walk into a room filled with children of color with a sparkly crown and sash, it transforms to something beyond that. They can see themselves in me and I can show them what is possible. I especially love visiting schools in the Bronx because at one point in time, I was one of those little girls I am talking to. On one of my visits, a young lady walked up to me and said, ‘I didn’t know we had princesses here?’ When I asked her what she meant she said, ‘You look like me. You’re from where I’m from. But I didn’t know we could be princesses and queens and stuff. I thought that was fairytale stuff.’ A part of me felt brokenhearted that she could not picture herself as a Queen, but another part of me was overjoyed. Why? Because I could dispel that myth in her mind. I responded to her, just like I’m a Queen, so are you. Don’t ever let anyone tell you different. You don’t need this crown to make you royalty. You already are. I wish I had a photo of the glow that radiated from her face. Moments like these have been the most rewarding for me.”
Alomar’s platform as Miss Black New York is called TramplEEE the Pipeline. TramplEEE the Pipeline was born from her passion for dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline. Alomar believes that being a voice for the youth impacted by this system is important, because they are unable to properly advocate for themselves or have access to the tools to support them.
The three E’s in in her platform stand for: Ending the school-to-prison pipeline, Encouraging meaningful rehabilitation of minors within the U.S. prison system, and Enhancing programs/resources that prevent the youth from entering the system in the first place.
Eki Asemota has been a major inspiration to Alomar in both her professional and personal life. Asemota is the creative director/founder of the theatre group, Your Queens, where Alomar plays Queen Nefertiti. She says that she has been a complete blessing in her life. They met through her best-friend/college roommate, Mikwaevonn, and ever since they met Asemota has been nothing short of a great mentor, supporter, sister and source of motivation. She shows her daily that there is nothing wrong with following your dreams and exploring your passions.
From watching her make handmade jewelry, dance, teach, lead their group, and so much more reminds her just how powerful women can be. She has learned about being a business woman, a nurturer, walking by faith, and countless other lessons from Eki.
“I am thankful to have her in my corner and i am constantly inspired by her.”
Alomar credits where she is today to the love and support of her family, mentors, and positive adults she has encountered throughout her life. She says that the reason it is so crucial is young people are highly impressionable and being able to see people from all backgrounds, of all races, genders, etc. showing them how to navigate this thing we call life is monumental.
No two people experience life in the same way, and if each person is able to take what they learn and invest it in the future, we can change the world. Success and prosperity does not solely exist within one group. We live in a diverse world and nation, we all should embrace that and teach young people this valuable lesson; the younger, the better.