Being a third generation student at Grambling State University, Queen Joiya Smith is anything but unfamiliar with her surroundings.
“I always knew Grambling was the school I wanted to go to. It was sort of like returning home as far as choosing a school, and I just really wanted to experience an HBCU – so why not choose a school I was already familiar with.”
Her grandmother was the first to start off the tradition, with both of her parents taking the same path. Her older sister is a graduate of Grambling, so Smith saw it as fitting that she follow the road that was already paved for her.
Smith lived in the Grambling area for a good period of her life. Her father was one of the football coaches so she was no stranger to the campus.
“When I was younger my dad coached at Grambling and I wanted to be that girl I used to always see – the beautiful queen, the regal queen,” said Smith. “My first inspiration that really encouraged me was Jamesia Leonard. She was Miss G my senior year. After that I encouraged myself to run for Miss Grambling and it worked –thank God.”
Before her senior year, Smith reigned as class queen a previous year, so she is familiar with the Royal Court.
Many may or may not know, but the Queen is a very dedicated Christian and makes sure God is first in her life and all her decisions. She is currently a member of the Church of the Champions.
“I really hope that my work shines on campus as well as in the Christian world,” Smith said.
So far, she has described her experience as being unforgettable. Although school has just begun, she said many doors have already opened for her and she has met many great people.
“It’s just great to known that I’m an ambassador for my university. A lot of things do weigh on my shoulder but just knowing I have so much influence over not only the current students but alumni as well,” said Smith. “I think that’s the best part about my reign, my influence.
Smith is enforcing the rule that she and her court host a lot of beneficial events, especially those that may be life-changing. She wants the students to be able to relate to what they are attending.
“There’s a lot of background to be done, a lot of meetings with administration and the president,” said Smith. “My biggest focus is we clean up in-house. I’m no longer doing it for just me but for the current as well as future students at the university.”
As far as her coronation tonight is concerned, Smith said she is dedicating it to her deceased uncle.
“My uncle was a major impact on my life, he had such a beautiful spirit every day was celebration,” Smith explained. “He really enforced to seize the moment and enjoy the day — every day. So I didn’t want my coronation to be a fairy-tale story because I didn’t have the fairy tale life. I didn’t want anything typical instead I wanted a celebration. I wanted it to be a celebration that would celebrate my achievements, along with honoring my uncle and his life. “
She also explained that the idea developed from watching a south Louisiana documentary one day that was about Mardi Gras and the celebration.
“The skeletons, the Zulu tribe was running around with skeletons on sticks. It was used to remind the people that you are alive, you’re not dead – you did wake up today and every day should be a celebration. So my theme can be considered a celebration but we can all celebrate our lives,” said the Bogalusa native.
“I want to look at coronation as a ribbon-cutting for the semester. This will be the event to start of a great year.”