Double Honors for Miss Talladega College: Now Also Miss NBCA Hall of Fame
Miss Talladega College 2020-2021 Patria Gatson has been named Miss National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame 2020-2021. Although her royal duties have doubled now that she has two crowns, Patria juggles her responsibilities with grace and ease. [Talladega College is a UNCF-member institution]
The dynamic biology pre-med major, who is a member of Talladega College’s prestigious Presidential Honor Society and numerous campus clubs, has held a plethora of leadership positions on and off campus. Miss Junior and Miss Presidential Honor Society are but two of the titles she has previously held. Patria was also a member of the team that won first place in the Alabama Business Pitch Competition hosted by the Alabama Governor’s Office of Minority Affairs.
Although Patria began honing her leadership skills prior to college, and was even named prom queen in high school, she credits Talladega for helping her understand exactly how much she is capable of achieving.
“Talladega College gave me the reassurance that I am capable of accomplishing whatever I want to accomplish. I feel that I can reach my goals and fulfill my dreams because my HBCU told me that I can,” said Patria. “I always take a heavy course load, and I understand the importance of balancing my studies, homework, and meetings. I take at least 18 credits every semester and I am involved in many clubs and organizations.”
Prior to becoming Miss Talladega College, Patria was not very social media savvy. Winning her crown in the midst of a deadly pandemic forced her to quickly learn how to communicate with, inspire and uplift Talladega’s student body via social media and virtual events.
“The pandemic changed everyone’s plans. It left many people feeling isolated and almost hopeless. Almost everything had to be canceled. We couldn’t – and still cannot – gather the way we used to gather. These changes can cause uncertainty and, when you don’t know what to expect, doubt can creep in.”
“Through my platform, Aspire to Inspire, I’ve tried to inspire and encourage people to be hopeful and aim high despite the current situation. Inspiration is important because before you can do something, you have to believe you can do it,” Patria said. “I’ve had to work hard to reach people on social media, but the effort is paying off. Sometimes people I don’t even know thank me for inspiring them. It’s very fulfilling to know that I’m making a difference.”
The skills Patria learned as Miss Talladega College have helped prepare her for her role as Miss National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame. Since gaining the national title, she has been featured on television and radio and sought after for interviews. She talks passionately about mental health, creativity, and success.
Talladega College President Dr. Billy C. Hawkins stated, “Patria has always shown outstanding leadership skills on and off campus. I am impressed by her ability to inspire students at Talladega and throughout the nation during this unprecedented season. She and her advisor, Mr. Anthony Jones, have managed to produce the virtual versions of practically every Miss Talladega activity that couldn’t be held in-person due to the pandemic. Through social media, radio and TV, Patria continues to demonstrate excellence and creativity in everything she does.”
“COVID-19 forced colleges to find creative ways to maintain their cherished traditions. Our Miss Talladega College 2020-2021 Coronation was held outdoors, and Patria arrived in a horse-drawn carriage wearing a face shield,” he said. “Many people thought the outdoor event was among our most beautiful coronations ever and said the horse-drawn carriage added an extra-special touch. Some suggested that we hold future coronation ceremonies outside. In the midst of the pandemic, measures initially taken as health and safety precautions may actually inspire many colleges to form new traditions.”
Patria feels that being an HBCU queen during the pandemic has forced her to think outside the box. Instead of using the pandemic as an excuse to do less, she has opted to make the most of her reign by instilling hope in students and anyone else who hears her uplifting messages. Standing on the shoulders of the many trailblazing queens who came before her, she is motivating thousands to reach their full potential.
Mr. Jones, who has served as the Miss Talladega College advisor for over 20 years, said, “Patria is a sheer inspiration to work with. She rises to every occasion and never ceases to shine. As a queen, she is always ready to represent and she represents so well.”
About Talladega College
Talladega College, Alabama’s first private historically black college, is consistently ranked among the best southeastern colleges and top HBCUs in the nation. It was founded in 1867 by two former slaves, William Savery and Thomas Tarrant, and is the home of the renowned Hale Woodruff Amistad Murals.