2018 Mr. and Miss Black OU Reflect on Reign
The 2018 Mr. and Miss Black OU, Eric Rollerson and Monica Fray, passed on their titles to Justin Norris and Joya Hegamin on Feb. 2. Before that, they reflected on the year they spent representing the University of Oklahoma.
One achievement from their reign was the creation of the Royal Ball, which was held in November as a philanthropy event to raise money in support of the Boys & Girls Club of Norman. Rollerson came up with the idea to host this event to bring together students from across campus. He approached other multicultural royalty students, and the idea grew from there.
“We were able to raise money for that organization, and it was about bringing our communities together and also giving back to the community,” Rollerson said. “It’s so fulfilling to be able to touch the lives of people and to give back and pour back into the community when you’ve been given so much.”
Read below to learn more about Rollerson and Fray and the experiences they have had at OU.
At first, Eric Rollerson never planned on doing a pageant. He initially served as supporter for one of his best friends when she competed, but during his junior year, he felt compelled to participate as well.
“I saw the need in our community for leadership, male leadership specifically,” Rollerson explained. “Doing the pageant was a comfort zone move for me in terms of getting out of my comfort zone … It was an accumulation of my passion for helping students. It wasn’t just about the title for me, but it was about being able to make an impact.”
Rollerson, a senior human relations major from Oklahoma City, has embraced his platform of “Be a Light, Make a Change.” His platform is built off of the three Es of exposure, empowerment, and empathy, and during the past year, he has created initiatives to reflect those. To demonstrate empathy, he started a clothing drive, which provided clothes for both OU Upward Bound and the Family Awareness and Community Teamwork (FACT) program of the Oklahoma City Police Department. In his capstone class, he and his team created The Shadow Project, which allows first-generation or economically disadvantaged students to come to OU and shadow a classroom while it is in session and learn about resources available to them at the university as a way to create exposure.
“It was about exposure, so exemplifying that exposure aspect of my platform and getting them to understand the day in the life of a college student but also showing them that this attainable for you,” Rollerson explained. “Whether you’re a first-generation student, or you may be economically disadvantaged, attending OU is still possible.”
Originally from Lynchburg, Virginia, Fray spent 12 years in the Air Force before studying at the University of Oklahoma. The senior, who is majoring in social work with a minor in psychology, said she felt welcomed on campus from the beginning.
“It was so easy to just jump into the university and meet people, partly because our Black Student Association was so strong and very welcoming,” Fray explained. “I’m a little bit older than a lot of other students, so being able to come in and connect and have resources was a blessing for me.”
For Fray, the decision to participate in the Mr. and Miss Black OU Pageant came from her desire to inject herself into her community. She also wanted to be able to share her story about her struggle with mental health issues with her fellow students, which is why her platform is “Not Alone.”
Fray said this past year has been amazing, primarily because of the opportunity to connect with and learn more about her fellow students.
“There are so many educated and diverse students here,” Fray shared. “I want people to understand people of color are so diverse. We’re so different, and we all give so many different perspectives. We are able to work together and accomplish things.
“I think that’s what’s so great about this university,” Fray continued. “You can be who you are … I can be defined by the person that I want to be and the changes that I want to make in this environment.”