Catching up with the first-ever Nova Court

September 12, 2022

By Olivia Wilson

Three months into their reign, we are catching up with FIU's first-ever Nova Star Scholarship Pageant winners, Teddisha Mackey, Cailyn Collins, and Jazmin Johnson. These bright students shared some plans for the new semester, their motivations for participating in the pageant, and advice for future competitors.

winners Teddisha Mackey, Cailyn Collins, and Jazmin Johnson
From left to right: Jazmin Johnson, Teddisha Mackey, and Cailyn Collins


Teddisha Mackey, our Nova Star Ambassador, shared what convinced her to compete in the pageant. "Joining a pageant was not the first thing on my mind. However, when I learned the significance of the Nova Star pageant, it sparked my interest. Not only did I want to step out of my comfort zone and be a part of history at FIU, but I also wanted to learn more about Juneteenth."

Jazmin Johnson also shared her purpose for joining the pageant, "By competing not only did I get to represent my orgs, but my community of black women as well. It was an amazing opportunity to shine during a month when my ancestors were finally allowed to shine as well."

One of the most notable categories of the Nova Star Scholarship pageant was the social justice segment, where each contestant chose a cause that was important to them and gave a speech advocating for their issue.

Collins focused her attention on Healthcare and Inequity, highlighting that both the healthcare industry and systemic inequity are partially responsible for mortality discrepancies in various groups. She shares, "I will be making a concerted effort to educate the student body on the issue of inequity in healthcare and provide resources giving students knowledge about how they may access affordable healthcare services."

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Mackey also aligned her social justice to her studies as a Hospitality Management major, specialized in Healthcare. She believes we should raise awareness of the mistreatment of minorities in the health industry. "Regardless of where I am, I take it upon myself to inform people of how important it is to have customer service in any business, including healthcare," she expressed.

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Johnson's social justice issue was business autonomy. She emphasized how important it is to raise awareness of discriminatory hiring practices and promote small black-owned businesses. She says, "Being a black businesswoman fighting to be at the top is very important to me because we are treated and looked at differently even though we shouldn't be. Achievements should be based on skill or knowledge, not skin color."

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All six contestants of the 2022 Nova Star Scholarship Pageant, including our three winners, were exceptional young Black students who hope to inspire other underrepresented minority students on campus to compete in the Nova Star tradition. The pageant is open to all genders, ethnicities, and abilities, creating a space where inclusivity and pageantry are intertwined.

"While competing in the pageant, I never felt as though I needed to put up a façade or hide who I was to succeed or build relationships with other contestants," Collins shared about her pageant experience. "It was a great experience, and I would recommend it to anyone. You'll learn a lot, both about yourself and others."

As the year continues, these students will use their positions to further their social justice cause within FIU and beyond. Follow us on our social media @diversityfiu to keep up with the ambassador's pursuits, representing the new campus-wide tradition of the Nova Star Scholarship Pageant.