Miss MVSU speaks: Indianola native Arlencia Barnes will represent college in 2019-20By BY RECARDO THOMAS STAFF REPORTER,
Indianola native, former Gentry High graduate and obstetrician-gynecologist aspirant Arlencia Barnes was recently named as the 67th Miss Mississippi Valley State University.
In her new role, Barnes will join the long list of young ladies who have graced the dais as “the face” of The Valley.
She will be the university’s representative during the upcoming 2018-2019 school year. And although standing in that position has been a long-time goal, Barnes said she wants to be more than just the face; she also wants to be a voice for her peers and her beloved university.
She has been preparing since she arrived on the Itta Bena campus.
Her philosophy is that you can’t just wait until you get ready to vie for a position to start interacting with the people, you must do it all along. Barnes said she has always strived to be nice, smile and greet people in a friendly way.
“You should always just be nice anyway,” she said. The junior Biology/Chemistry major, who has worked diligently with the school’s student government association, has served as an advocate for the students long before she made an attempt at the coveted title.
The vibrant teenager has immersed herself in student affairs and had set as her ambition to learn as much as she could about how things work at the university so that she could be more effective in accomplishing her goals.
Barnes said she intends to use her acquired knowledge to foster and enhance communications between the students and the administration and develop better transparency between the two.
Another of her major objectives is to work toward improving the retention rate so that students will not just come to The Valley, but stay at The Valley. “And be as proud of The Valley as I am,” she said. Barnes already spends a great deal of her time learning how to get things done the right way at the school.
She also wants to create more activities for out-of-state students so they will have something to do on the weekends.
“I want to make sure they feel at home when they are at school,” she said.
Her reign will officially begin on July 1 even though her actual coronation will not take place until the fall.
Based on tips received from her predecessor, Barnes said she has been forewarned that her new role will typically involve a variety of public speaking occasions.
For her, those instances will be an opportunity to allow the collective voices of her fellow students to be heard.
Barnes said the reigning Miss MVSU counseled her to always be prepared to give a short talk, even if she is not on program.
So what does it take to become “the face” of a HBCU? It takes a lot of devotion and groundwork. As for the jubilant junior, her road was paved by her enthusiasm and outgoing personality.
The qualification process requires the submission of an application and meeting certain criteria, such as having at least a 3.0 grade point average, having accumulated the required amount of credit hours, no record of any disciplinary actions against you and being in good standing with the University.
She added that it also helps to have a good social media profile. The competition started out as a three-woman race, but ended up with only two young ladies vying for the honor and Barnes came away with a pronounced victory.
Although candidates for queen at some universities spend thousands of dollars in their contention for the title, Barnes relishes the fact that she spent less than $500 and that included posters, push cards, commercials on social media and food for rallies.
Barnes said she did not have to spend a lot of money, “because I built my platform from the beginning of the year.” She cultivated her relationships throughout her tenure on campus and did not simply rely on public gatherings.
“People will come, eat your food and still go vote for your opponent,” she said.
Barnes will be attending several institutes as part of her role as Valley’s queen among them being the National Association of Student Affairs Professionals, whose aim is cultivating student success in higher education. Upon graduation in May of 2020, Barnes expects to immediately matriculate into the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson to continue her studies and her quest to be an OB-GYN.
She plans to take the MCATs exam this summer.
Ultimately she wants to be able to reach out to other youth and be a positive role model.
She said it is important that the students from her neighborhood know that they too can graduate from high school and go beyond that to college and make a difference.
“You just have to know what you want to do and how hard you want to go,” she said.