ALBANY — When Fahren Nipple came to Albany State University from her home in Augusta, she underwent an identity crisis.
“When you have to adapt to change, it’s kind of hard to figure out who you are,” Nipple said. “Back home, I wasn’t sheltered, but I was exposed to more stuff here. But then as I continued my matriculation throughout college, I was like, ‘No I’m going to just be me, love who I am and embrace me.’”
And so when she decided to enter the Miss Albany State University pageant, Nipple knew that she wanted that principle — of being yourself — to be her platform. Her official platform was “Identify Yourself and Embrace You,” and she explained that she tried to be herself in every individual category of the competition.
After a pageant introduction, Nipple had to dance, which she said was “one of the hardest things for me to do.” Then came the spirit wear, during which she simply focused on walking.
“I’ve done pageants before, so that wasn’t that hard to me,” Nipple said. “It was just trying to be myself while walking at the same time.”
Then came the oratorical category, and while Nipple said she is naturally good at speaking, she wanted her speech to reflect who she was as well.
It was during the talent portion of the competition, though, that Nipple really shone.
“I’m a singer,” she said. “I love to sing, so I chose the song ‘This Is Me’ from ‘The Greatest Showman.’ It spoke about being confident in who you are. That really fit my platform.”
During the evening wear portion of the competition, Nipple got to tell the audience all about her platform.
And that night, on March 22, Nipple’s strategy worked to perfection. She was crowned Miss Albany State University.
“When I won, it was humbling,” Nipple said. “I didn’t think it would be me. I would have been happy with either of the three of us winning. But when I won, all I could do was cry.”
The ASU pageant was just one of many for Nipple, who competed in her first pageant at just 4 years old. But she said that this one was “more in depth” than other pageant she had been a part of.
Nipple is a forensic science major with a minor in biology, and she said she hopes to go on to medical school and become a forensic pathologist and perform autopsies, especially on minorities.
“I feel like in today’s society, they overlook how, especially African American men and women, die,” Nipple said. “They don’t go into depth about how they die. They don’t look into it as much, so I want to be a forensic pathologist.”
Nipple said she was drawn to Albany and ASU because the university has the top forensic science program among historically black colleges and universities in Georgia.
In addition to her studies and title as Miss ASU, Nipple is also president of the Forensic Science Club at ASU.
“We do a lot of community service, especially with Monroe (High School), and we’ve done community service this past weekend, teaching the community about forensic science, (that) it’s not just ‘CSI’ and ‘Criminal Minds.’”
Nipple is also the soprano section leader for the ASU Gospel Choir and is involved and the university’s Theatre Ensemble. She also volunteers at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Albany and said she hopes to continue her platform there as well.
“I know children like that they go through things as well as us in identifying who they are, especially how TV is now,” Nipple said. “You can see anything on TV. … I would like to do workshops encouraging them, to teach them to embrace who they are. I’d also like to collaborate with the mentorship programs here on campus so they could have that big brother/big sister type bond.”
Nipple said she also hopes to use her title to start a talent show that would allow participants to show how they identify themselves through music, create a scholarship and design a pamphlet in the freshman orientation packet about embracing yourself.
“When I came in freshman year, I was open to a lot of things, and I don’t want students to experience necessarily the same things I experienced freshman year in trying to figure out who they are,” Nipple said.