By: Kerry Ingram, Arts & Life Editor
Featured image courtesy of Towson Department of Dance
TU dance major Cyntria Vinson has a way with movement. From modern and contemporary dance styles, to flowing ballet and energetic hip-hop, Vinson is able to move in a way that captivates while communicating a message to her audiences.
This skill in movement came in handy as Vinson was also able to move hearts in order to be crowned as 2019’s Miss Black TU on March 3.
Miss Black TU, sponsored by the Mu Mu Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, is a Towson scholarship pageant, aimed at providing opportunities for self-identified women within the campus community. The pageant is held to give contestants a chance to earn scholarship funds while they get to share their talents and efforts with the rest of the community.
Despite the pageant being held by Delta, applicants do not have to be affiliated to apply. Vinson is not a member of the sorority and shared that she was driven to apply because she admired the organization’s work and thought the pageant experience would be fun.
“This was my very first pageant,” Vinson said. “Of course I perform all the time [through dance], but it was so weird and new to be put on display and judged.“
The pageant holds an interesting timeline. According to Taniyah Abdulbarr, the director of 2019’s Miss Black TU pageant, the initial workings of Miss Black TU date back to nearly four decades ago, with the event gradually transforming into a more mainstream pageant as the years passed. The pageant eventually came to a hiatus, before being reintroduced in 2004.
Since then, the pageant has been held on-and-off, with no real reason as to its lack of consistency.
“Being that there has not been [a Miss Black TU] in a while, this would be the resurrection pageant for the title,” said Andrew Bryant, a TU student who served as Vinson’s escort for the pageant. “I’ve learned that Miss Black TU is more than just a title; it’s an image and a lifestyle. You must be the epitome of the title and everything that comes with it: service, honesty, integrity, and poise.”
Selected applicants of the program had to attend and engage in a multitude of workshops, including ones centered around the topic of giving back to the community. The applicants then had to select a nonprofit of their choice to raise donation money toward. Vinson used her philanthropic skills to win the title over six other contenders.
“The pageant was in total about a five-month process, but it was worth every minute,” Vinson said. “It was so much fun getting to know all the ladies I was working with, all the ladies on the committee and my mentor. It was very rewarding to be able to be myself and try something new, and come out with the title.”
Towson senior and sports management major India Richey shared her approval of Vinson being the new title holder.
“Cyntria is very lively, entertaining and lovely to be around,” Richey said. “I know that she will do the crown of the Miss Black TU title justice along with her creative yet innovative public service project. “
Abdulbarr shared similar appreciation for the 2019 title-holder.
“I am extremely proud to announce, Cyntria Vinson, as the 2019 Miss Black TU Scholarship Pageant,” Abdulbarr said. “She possesses great talent, charisma, and charm. Ms. Vinson is extremely dedicated, an ambassador of goodwill and gives back to community service organizations.
Vinson chose to raise money for AileyCamp Baltimore, a program hosted by Towson University that helps give inner city youth access to professional dance training and development.
The choice was easy for Vinson – aside from being a dance major, she is also a member and co-rehearsal director of the Towson University Dance Company, as well as the junior class representative for the entire dance department at TU. Additionally, Vinson serves as president of the National Honors Society of Dance Arts.
“My life is hectic,” Vinson said. “But I love getting to dance every day with my dance family and go to Carroll Hall and hang out with my friends.”
Vinson shared how her love of dance comes from the ability to communicate through it, without any real barriers.
“Dance is my life and my passion,” Vinson said. “You can express your most personal self through it. Dance is a language that can reach everyone and that everyone can understand, no matter who they are.”
Since her win, Vinson has continued to celebrity her success while simultaneously continuing her support for the communities around her.
“It feels amazing,” Vinson said. “I feel very blessed and fortunate to have had a supportive group going through this process with me. I feel privileged to be the first Miss Black Towson University in years, and I plan to set the standard for not only the African American community at Towson but [for] everyone. With this title, I am in the process of making a community service event in Baltimore City with Miss Congeniality [Britney Nguetta], the second place winner.”
After her time at TU, Vinson plans to continue pursuing her professional dance dreams, before settling down as a dance teacher in inner city schools. Her main mission is to provide dance exposure and arts experience to students who may not otherwise get those opportunities.
In that goal, Vinson showcases how she plans to continue her movements and messages with every community she encounters, one step at a time.