Chioma Ogbata, a junior nutritional sciences major from Houston, sat down and created a list of goals she wished to accomplish during her spring semester on Dec. 18, 2018.
On that list, she said she included goals such as “Body” the MCAT, study abroad, make the Ms. Black and Gold pageant a fun and worthwhile experience and more.
By the beginning of the semester, she was on the way to completing those goals. By January she had begun studying heavily for the MCAT and had secured a Honors study abroad scholarship in March for her trip in the summer, but her proudest accomplishment by far came last month when she was crowned 2019’s Ms. Black and Gold pageant winner, she said.
According to the Texas Tech chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha, the pageant was first hosted in 1976 at the fraternity general convention. The pageant officially became a staple within the fraternity in 1982 and has been hosted annually since. It was first introduced to the Tech campus in 1992.
As the winner of this pageant, Ogbata received a $1,000 scholarship alongside lifelong recognition and induction into the Eta Upsilon chapter’s “Eta Up family.”
Ogbata said she had been wanting to become a part of the pageant since her freshman year but couldn’t due to missing the pageant informational. In her junior year, she said she decided to join in order to challenge herself.
“I wanted to develop and learn more about myself,” she said. “I wanted to learn about being more confident. I am always given the opportunity to be in a position of authority but I didn’t think I was the right person for the position because I wasn’t confident enough in my abilities.”
Ogbata said winning the pageant wasn’t an easy accomplishment. Frequent studying for the MCAT and practicing for the pageant 12 to 15 hours weekly while simultaneously handing a full load of classes proved to be a challenge, she said.
During the process, she said she struggled mentally.
“I think the hardest part was managing my time,” she said. “I pulled a lot of all-nighters and there was a lot of times that I doubted I could even do all of it. I was having a lot of breakdowns and I really had to learn how to prioritize my time.”
However, she said she channeled her mental breakdowns and stress into her performance for the talent portion of the event. Her talent included a dance that featured a fusion between praise dancing, hip hop, and afro beats to discuss how she is overcoming her mental health struggles and her future plans of being a physician
Ogbata also credits her success to a good support system of people and an army of friends who believed in her ability to overcome those challenges, she said.
Brianna Amuzu, a junior human sciences major from Houston, is Ogbata’s best friend and helped her revise and perfect her performance. Amuzu said she was proud of Ogbata’s accomplishment and work ethic.
“It’s inspiring she can win against all those people. It was a tough competition,” she said. “I think she’s honestly going to be seen as a role model she shows that through God anything is possible. She shows that if you put your mind to it you can do anything.”
Cynthia Okeke, a junior human sciences major from Houston, is Ogbata’s cousin and was a contestant in the pageant as well. Okeke said she attended high school with Ogbata and her accomplishments have always been visible.
“Each time she hit the stage it was like she brought light to the stage,” she said. “Growing up with her I knew she had this personality that was different, now when it came to the pageant, it basically confirmed the amazing person, and strong hard working and ambitious girl that she is.”
Whitney Ezenwa, a freshman nutrition major from Houston, was a contestant in the pageant. She also attended high school with Ogbata.
“Chioma has always been an outstanding performer and I wasn’t surprised,” she said. “Chioma remained humble, when there were times people were discouraged and in need of help, she would stop everything she was doing to teach you how to walk and pose.”
Ezenwa and Okeke said in high school, Ogbata acted as president of the African Students Association. Okeke and Ezenwa also went on to become presidents of ASO after Ogbata left for college. They both echoed that the incredible example Ogbata set influenced their terms as president.
Ogbata said she has plans to become a dermatologist in the future, and as a physician she wants to empower women. She credits the Ms. Black and Gold Pageant for giving her a platform to further her dreams of women empowerment in the future.
“I want to have my own nonprofit organization women empowerment organization where girls can come after school, and be vulnerable and open,” she said. “That’s the impact I want to make.”
Ogbata said she has already started seeing the impact of her performance and message of women empowerment.
“The pageant showed me that regardless of what odds are stacked against you in terms of statistics, you can accomplish anything,” she said. “I have had people come up to me and say to me personally that they see themselves doing more than what they thought they could because of how I managed to balance it all.”