ESSENCE x Pepsi Honor Two History-Making Women at Norfolk State University
Marcus Green

Over the weekend, ESSENCE and Pepsi’s “She Got Now” initiative made its final tour stop at Norfolk State University. Continuing the celebration of past, present and future women of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, the multi-campus program gathered Black students and alumna of NSU at the newly-erected, state-of-the-art G.W.C. Brown Memorial Hall to honor two brilliant and history-making women, Sandreca Citizen and Brehanna Daniels.

Hosted by the university’s very own Ashley Maclin and ESSENCE Assistant Fashion Features Editor, Nandi Howard, the intimate dinner was warmly opened with words by President Dr. Javaune Adams-Gaston. “We have worked with our African-American partners and family to ensure that all of our young people have opportunities that they would not necessarily have without strong Black women,” Adams-Gaston said, pointing to the wonderful qualities of the women of the evening. “They remind us of the importance of excellence and developing community. They are truly magnificent and they make us so proud here at NSU.”

President Dr. Javaune Adams-Gaston, Norfolk State University 2019. Photo by Marcus Green.

In front of her family and close friends, Citizen was the first to be honored. As the 47th Miss Norfolk State University, the Texas native is a proven leader of her fellow Spartans.

Ashley Maclin and Miss Norfolk State University 2019, Sandreca Citizen.

With her platform, she continues to elevate students by helping them mine their untapped potential and ensure that the Spartan family as a whole has the opportunity to become changemakers in the world. “When you wake up, you have a purpose,” she said, echoing the inspiration her mother instilled in her to be successful.

Graduate of the 2016 class and former basketball player, Daniels, who was not in attendance due to a race, was the night’s second honoree. Last year, she made history as the first African-American woman to change tires in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. In her spare time earlier this year, she just so happened to also compete in NBC’s Titan Games, a real physical competition series.

Ashley Maclin and NSU Athletics Director Marty Miller accept award on behalf of Brehanna Daniels.

Not only was the night a beautiful time to bask in the time-honored traditions of HBCU homecomings, but also a moment to stop and observe the leadership without our community, not just at NSU. Through “She Got Now,” ESSENCE and Pepsi will deepen their commitment to empowering emerging leaders and building their legacies, as expressed by VP/CMO of Pepsi Beverages North America in the South Division, Chauncey Hamlett.

In mid-November, the “She Got Now” Allen McKellar Jr. Internship Program will be open to all young Black women aspiring to or attending one of the participating HBCUs — Florida A&M University, Howard University, Hampton University and Norfolk State University — who embody what it means to be a young Black woman of today.

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