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Features Mr. and Miss Southern Miss promote authenticity

Mr. and Miss Southern Miss promote authenticity

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In the midst of exams, football games and other university events, senior theatre major Tony Reimonenq and senior forensic science major Ta’Nika Williams have been elected to the 2019 Homecoming Court as Mr. and Miss Southern Miss.

Mr. Southern Miss Tony Reimonenq

Reimonenq has been involved in numerous leadership positions, such as the Luckyday Citizenship Scholars program, Housing and Residence Life, the Student Government Association, Eagle Connection, Southern Style, Afro-American Student Organization and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc.

After four years of being students at Southern Miss, Reimonenq said he has learned to be more selfless through his involvement. 

“This university has taught me that it’s not all about me, and that the reasons I do things is that there are things that are bigger than me,” Reimonenq said. “I don’t need to be so selfish and look for personal gain, but how can I help the bigger picture?”

Reimonenq said that his parents taught him the motto of ‘leaving something better than you found it’. He related this motto to his campaign slogan, #Tonythehomie. 

“In my campaign video, it just shows me in a couple of elements I have served in on-campus, and I’ve gotten the chance to meet so many different types of people because I’ve been so involved. But in all of those areas, I’m still Tony. It’s just being a friend to everyone,” Reimonenq said.

Despite his heavy involvement in student life, Reimonenq said he is passionate about serving others..

“I am that homie for you. I’m Tony the homie, we know each other. It’s important to be there for others. It doesn’t have to be me; you can be that homie away from home,” Reimonenq said.

“I just plan on taking my experiences here and sharing them with everybody else. People can connect with you when you are being vulnerable and showing yourself,” Reimonenq said. “If I’m asked to speak at events, I’d go to share my story for others to know the importance of being somebody’s homie away from home.” 

Reimonenq said creating authentic relationships matters more than any leadership position.

“Be 100% you and know how you are is enough—don’t be afraid. People will always remember how you made them feel rather than what you did for them,” Reimonenq said. “If you’re thinking about running, be intentional with everyone you meet. Make them know you care about them and that they matter to you. Be you, be intentional, be genuine.” 

Miss Southern Miss Ta’Nika Williams 

Like Reimonenq, Williams has also been heavily involved in Southern Miss’ student life, serving in Eagle Connection, NAACP, GEWW, Southern Style, the AASO gospel choir and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.

Williams said that her experience at Southern Miss helped create her campaign slogan “G.A.M.E.T.I.M.E.”

“I wanted to base it off of something I have learned and has made me into who I am today. It stands for Giving your All Makes Efforts Turn Into Meaningful Experiences,” Williams said. “When I came here, I was ready to get involved. But I saw people in these organizations who I thought were on a higher level than me, so I doubted myself and quit before I even tried.”

After meeting supportive faculty and staff, William realized that she had been doubting herself.

“They pushed me to do whatever I want or whatever I set my mind to. Now I want to do the same, being a role model pushing somebody else who may be doubting themselves or don’t see their full potential have meaningful experiences by the time they graduate,” Williams said.

Williams agreed with Reimonenq and said she hopes future students who run for leadership positions are passionate and authentic.

“I would say be real. This is not a popularity contest, if you are going to run for something have that platform to touch someone else. Use it for a reason, use it to help somebody else and be real about it. Regardless of winning, during my campaign I felt like I already won because I was able to inspire others,” Williams said.

Mr. Southern Miss Tony Reimonenq and Miss Southern Miss Ta’Nika Williams. Photo by Bethany Morris.

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