ALBANY -- Ali'Yah Arnold is laboring for Albany State University, but she's doing it with a new flair as Miss Albany State University for 2010.
A 21-year-old junior mass communications major from the Atlanta area, Arnold says she believes students and their work on behalf of thier university is the soul of the institution. Her platform exemplifies that soul in capital letters -- S.O.U.L. for A.S.U., which stands for Student Organizations United in Laboring for Albany State University.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and raised near Atlanta in Lithonia, Arnold has a great deal of experience wearing a crown and being a role model to her peers and other young women. The new Miss ASU attended Redan High School, where she was named Miss Redan. She was selected Miss Freshman during her freshman year at Albany State.
After earning her degree at ASU, Arnold plans to attend graduate school, where she "hopes to work with a promotion department of a radio station." She's getting experience with that career goal in Albany. She's currently interning at local urban station 96.3 WJIZ, where she hosts her own show on Sundays.
Arnold won the crown on March 19. Her reign officially begins in August.
The Albany Herald recently sat down for an interview with Arnold:
Q. What do you do in your free time?
A. That's a good question because I don't have a lot of free time. In my free time, I like to listen to old-school music, such as R&B from the '60s, '70s, '80s and early '90s. I like to hang out with my friends when I can, but they too are very busy.
Q. What artists do you listen to from the '60s '70s and '80s?
A.Oh, wow, the Isley Brothers, Temptations, O'Jays, the Chilites.
Q. Tell me about the cultural activities you participate in on and around the campus of ASU.
A. I am very active on campus. I am a member of Paraprofessionals Promoting Peer*fection which is P3; I am a resident assistant for Hall 3; I'm a (staff) member of 92.7 WASU (Albany State's on-campus radio station); I am a former ASU Golden Ram Cheerleader; I am a member of the first, and the finest sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.; I am part of the Velma Fudge honors council, the National Pan-Hellenic council, as well as a Holly Ambassador. I'm just very active around the campus.
Q. What would you rather be, a door or a window?
A. I would rather be a door because a door can open the way to a new path in life as opposed to a window, where you can see yourself going places; however, you'll never have the opportunity to open it fully.
Q. If you could be a fictional character, which character would you choose?
A. I would be Superwoman because she represents women as a whole. She was strong, caring, and wasn't afraid to stand up for what was right. She exemplified how women should be in difficult situations. For example, you have some situations where kids are forced to grow up in a single-parent home and the mother has to be the mother and the father. That shows strength.
Q. What was your favorite cartoon growing up?
A. My favorite cartoon would have to be the Rugrats! I love the Rugrats! I went to see the movie when it came out, and I especially liked when Susie was added to the show.
Q. If you were a flower, what type of flower would you be and why?
A. If I could be a flower I would be a white rose because it stands out.
Q. Why did you want to be Miss ASU?
A. Growing up, I would go to the ASU homecoming parades and the football games and see everyone celebrating, so when I came to Albany State in the fall of 2007, I already knew what ASU was all about. I always wanted to run for Miss ASU ever since I first stepped on the campus. I ran for Miss Freshman and I did really well. I won Miss Freshman and I just continued to stay active because I knew that I wanted to run for Miss Albany State University. I didn't know what my platform was going to be, but as I continued to be active in various organizations around campus, I started to notice some of the issues and problems the student body was having. So I based my platform on that in hopes of making a better campus life for the students.
Q. What exactly is your platform?
A. My Platform is S.O.U.L. for A.S.U. -- Student Organizations United in Laboring for Albany State University.
Q. What has been the most significant accomplishment in your life and why?
A. The most significant accomplishment thus far would have to be me running for Miss Albany State University and becoming Miss ASU. It has been a lifelong dream of mine, and for a dream to come to reality is just an amazing feeling.
Q. At what point does a girl become a woman?
A. A girl becomes a woman when she is able to take responsibility for her actions and is able to be a leader and not a follower. She should be able to set goals for herself and be able to achieve them while making sure she stays grounded and focused.
Q. Do you consider yourself to be a giver or a taker? Why?
A. I definitely consider myself to be a giver because I sacrifice a lot, and I know in order to be a good service leader you have to sacrifice. It doesn't necessarily have to be financially, but being able to take the time to sit down and talk to someone who has a problem or to offer words of encouragement.
Q. What would you like to see done to improve the public's understanding of the importance of not texting while driving?
A. I think Oprah Winfrey did a great job with the no-texting-while-driving campaign. But I think we can do a few rallies and promotions to show the importance of not texting while driving and show the statistics from different states of people that were killed due to texting while driving. Statistics have a way of persuading people. I don't know if you've seen the movie "Seven Pounds" with Will Smith, but that movie was an eye-opener to why you shouldn't text and drive.
Q. What would you say is the biggest problem facing our educational system today? Globally and locally with Albany State University?
A. There are not enough people giving back. You have those who choose to give back; however, there are a lot of people who don't or could do more, especially in the African-American community. You have people that reach certain statuses and reach certain heights, but instead of them reaching back to pull up those who need them the most, which are the students, they turn the other cheek. Instead of them coming back and talking to students and saying, "I became this" or "I came from this type of family" or "I lived in this type of community" or "I was poor but I overcame that and now I am successful," they choose to just look down on them and those who aren't as successful as them. I think when students see those types of examples, it makes them strive more and want to achieve more. With Albany State, you have a lot of great alumni who choose to give back and come to homecoming and support campus life and activities. However, we need more. Think about how many alumni we have that don't or who choose not to give back to support Albany State University. If we had more support, then maybe we could move forward.
Q. What are the best qualities a parent could share with their children? Why?
A. No. 1, parents should let their children know that they care by simply saying I love you or I'm proud of you. Showing their kids support and actually saying I love you would be the best quality a parent should give their children. Everyone knows that your parents are your first teachers, so if parents taught their kids what they needed to know at home, then they wouldn't come to school acting like they didn't have any home training. So respect, morals, honesty and ethics are the qualities parents should instill in their children.
Q. If you showed me around your state (county, city, community, etc.), where would you take me and why?
A. If I could take you around Atlanta, I would probably take you around my city. I live in Lithonia, which is in DeKalb County. A lot of people don't know that DeKalb is one of the richest areas for successful African-American business owners. I think it's somewhere in Maryland that's No. 1, but DeKalb, Georgia, is ranked No. 2 for successful African-Americans businesses. If you think about it, a lot of the businesses around that area are black-owned, and a lot of those people are very successful. A lot of people think that it's "the 'hood," but it's actually not. I'd probably take you to Radian Mountain. It's like a mountain hiking trail, and it's fairly new. The landscape is very beautiful.
Q. Tell me about a recent goal outside of becoming Miss ASU that you accomplished.
A. Becoming the only female personality on 96.3 WJIZ. This is a major accomplishment for me because I am an undergraduate student, and it has given me a lot of on-air experience from an actual local radio station for a major corporation as opposed to some people who never get that kind of opportunity.
A little more from Miss ASU: S.O.U.L. for ASU -- I really believe that the students are the soul of the university, along with student organizations. Without them, we are nothing. In order for our university to thrive and continue to prosper, we need the soul to come together and unite as one. Student organizations should focus more on supporting each other and collaborating on joint events and community service projects and really reach out to our freshmen. If we get the freshmen as soon as they come to Albany State and have them join organizations, more than likely they will continue to be a part of those organizations throughout their matriculation through college. I am very passionate about my platform, and I'm looking forward to implementing it next semester as well as the rest of my court. My Second Attendant, Kaszia Brown, my First Attendant, Amber Bennettt , and of course, Royal Gentleman Reuben King have been very supportive of my platform, and we've all decided to implement portions of our platform and to work together for the advancement of our university. We're trying to take ASU to that next level.