At first, Eric Rollerson never planned on doing a pageant. He initially served as a 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 is attainable for you,” Rollerson explained. “Whether you’re a first-generation student, or you may be economically disadvantaged, attending OU is still possible.”