The Mu Zeta chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., presented their 9th annual "Mr. Debonair Scholarship" pageant, "Takers" edition Saturday night.
Corey Alexander Hodge was crowned the title among the following contestants: Latano Hall Jr., Preston Harris Jr., Demetrius Antwon Smith, Joshua Beach and runner-up Paul Anthony Troy. The event was hosted by Shanté Swain of the Knoxville Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta, Inc., and Mu Iota Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., member Anderson Olds.
"The pageant gave me an opportunity to express myself as an individual, since I'm not naturally an extrovert," Hodge said.
According to the new "Mr. Debonair," the time commitment took discipline. He advised not participating in the pageant just for popularity or social factors.
"I had confidence in my xability to be 'Mr. Debonair,' but the other contestants were likely to become winner as well, which made me discipline myself even more," Hodge said.
In the talent portion of the pageant, Hodge performed a poem inspired by Africa in his trip to Ghana this past summer.
"I wanted to write a poem in Africa and had my eyes open to everything," said Hodge.
He said he saw a woman there who had almost nothing in the world and may have been an orphan living on the beach, yet Hodge describes her as the happiest person and said it changed his views on what it takes to be happy.
"I am the same individual as I was before the pageant and still Corey Alexander Hodge," he said.
Hodge also said the brotherhood he gained through other contestants was valuable and the atmosphere was always friendly.
The pageant is held every year with a different theme, and the title of "Mr. Debonair" is given to one who exemplifies class, scholastic achievement and professionalism. The winner receives a $500 scholarship for the following academic year.
The requirements for contestants include a minimum of 20 hours of community service, at least a 2.5 GPA and good academic standing.
Patrick Brainerd, senior in agricultural economics, said he had a favorite performance.
"Paul Troy's 'make it rain' presentation was my favorite," Brainerd said. He also said he liked Beach's chinos and appreciated his style.
"The title represents someone who will stand out as a leader in the community, and Mr. Corey Hodge is an excellent candidate and will make a great 'Mr. Debonair'," said Brainerd.
The pageant began with an introduction of the 2013 contestants. Each one walked out in attire that reflected each of the contestant's personality accompanied by a song of their choice. The range in clothing choices directly reflected the differing personalities of the men. Beach stood out in a navy blazer with orange pants and chino shoes that was a crowd favorite. Troy wore a Mickey Mouse sweater and a vintage Sonics snapback to the "Thrift Shop" song. Hodge wore a denim jacket and pants.
"I'm really proud of my friend Corey Hodge for winning 'Mr. Debonair'," said Rilwan Balogun, a junior in journalism and electronic media. "I believe he deserves the title because 'Mr. Debonair' exemplifies a man that can stand up tall, work within the community and be an overall example for the campus."
Talents in the pageant were diverse. Beach quickly made a spray paint drawing in real time that the audience was able to view via Skype. Harris displayed the art of spoken word accompanied by background scenes and even barking dogs, gunshots and police sirens. His piece reflected on black men and their struggles in society.
As contestant No. 6, Hall acted a scene from "A Raisin in the Sun" as Walter Lee with the help of two students. Smith showed his lyrical ability in a rendition of Kendrick Lamar's "Poetic Justice."
"Mr. Debonair" contestants were noted for their campus involvement. With organizational involvement in resident halls, TASC force, NAACP, SAAB and POSE, all the young men are active parts in the campus community.
In the Q-and-A portion, Hodge said that a crucial attribute in role models is self-confidence. When asked if there was anything he would change about the way he thinks, Beach said he'd like to gain other perspectives of the world.
Toward the end, 2012 "Mr. Debonair" winner Christian Holmes offered some advice to Hodge. Holmes advised staying humble, especially after winning, and remember that he now represents not only himself and the community, but a group of talented and dedicated women.