BHS grads represent city well

Published 8:26 am Monday, May 18, 2015

Bogalusa doesn’t often receive a lot of positive recognition around the region for one reason or another, but two college students are changing that often negative perception of their city.

Joiya Smith was recently selected Miss Grambling State University for the 2015-16 school year, while JaMya Magee was chosen Miss Southern University. Both just completed their junior year at their respective schools, and both are 2012 Bogalusa High School graduates.

“I’m actually the 62nd Miss Grambling State. I think it’s an honor to have the highest title at the school,” Smith said. “It means a lot of people depend on you. I’m excited because I’ve had a lot of support from the community as well as from my family and friends.”

Smith said her mother, Veronica Adams Smith, was there for her on campus during campaign week. Her mother is a GSU graduate.

“My biggest support system was my mother. She really went the extra mile to make sure everything was a success. She bought things, cried with me and laughed with me. More importantly, she believes in me.”

Smith’s roots at Grambling run deep.

“I’m a third generation Gramblinite,” Smith said. “My grandmother graduated from Grambling and my sister, Chelsea Smith, is a spring 2015 graduate.”

Smith is an art major. She said she would like to work at a graphic design company upon graduation.

“Later on, I plan on pursuing my non-profit organization, ‘Little Eyes Are Watching,’ and taking it nationwide,” Smith said.

Smith scoffed at the notion people from Bogalusa can’t accomplish their dreams.

“I think the work and effort we put in goes unrecognized a lot of times,” Smith said. “A degree does not make you someone. I believe it’s the things after high school that really define the people we are.”

Recent BHS alumni have started a trend on social media to keep up with how the others are doing. It’s found at #bogfam.

“We honor our daily successes on there,” Smith said.

Magee was not only proud to win the Miss Southern University title, but also to be the first mother to win it as well. Her daughter, Kaylyn, was born in 2013.

“I’m excited about it. I’m also excited to be the first mother to run for Miss Southern University and win,” Magee said. “I’m glad I could be an inspiration to others. Most people wouldn’t run if they have a child.”

Magee is studying social work and wants to work in the medical end of the profession. She initially planned to study nursing but changed to social work after listening to a social worker talk about her vocation.

“After listening to the social worker, I learned social work was for me,” Magee said. “My passion is to help others and give back. I want to work at a hospital.”

Magee said she was somewhat surprised by the support she received from home after winning the title.

“Since winning Miss Southern University, I’ve been shocked at how much positive feedback I’ve received from the community,” Magee said. “Before I graduated from Bogalusa High School, this was not something I had heard about. I knew running for Miss Southern University was a big thing, but didn’t know it would make such an impact on my community. People have been thanking and congratulating me. Their support means a lot to me.”

Both young ladies were recognized at the May 16 Roundup in Franklinton, where alumni chapters from both schools gathered.

Magee said she is proud to call Bogalusa home.

“It’s such a blessing to say where I come from and what I’ve accomplished so far,” Magee said.