Nov. 1, 2010
Leah Seupersad, 404-413-1354
|GSU Homecoming Queen LaToya Raines volunteers at the St. Francis Table, a soup kitchen for the homeless in Atlanta.|
ATLANTA—Being crowned Homecoming Queen at Georgia State University doesn’t just mean sporting a tiara and a sash.
LaToya Raines, a 21-year-old criminal justice major, plans to use the platform this year to educate students about social issues around Atlanta such as homelessness, unemployment among college students and the state of the education system.
“I just really want to give back. As students, a lot of times we see these issues or hear about them, but we don’t know the day of the life of someone who faces it,” said Raines, who was crowned GSU’s first fall Homecoming Queen during halftime at the Oct. 2 football game.
Besides winning the campus-wide vote, Raines completed more than 90 hours of community service. She is involved in many service projects as president of the Economic Empowerment Initiative, vice-president of Black Student Alliance, and a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. She also volunteers feeding the homeless at the St. Francis Table, a soup kitchen, and mentoring girls at Cohen Middle School, through Cool Girls Inc.
“My favorite quote is ‘To whom much is given, much is required.’ I feel like a lot of people just look at their current situation, but they should know that you have been blessed with a lot and you need to give back a lot,” said Raines, who previously won Miss Sophomore.
And when Raines isn’t working in the community she’s sharing her Panther pride as member of the 1913 Society, a team of Georgia State juniors and seniors who represent the university at various activities. Raines is a first generation college student from Macon, Ga., who is excited to tell anyone she meets about her college experience.
“It has been amazing,” she said. “Coming to Atlanta and Georgia State really changed my life and I really just wanted to give back and to leave my legacy at Georgia State. I’ve had the opportunity to do things at Georgia State that I never thought I would do.”
Raines and the rest of the winners on the Homecoming Royal Court plan to host at least three community service projects during the spring semester, based on proposals they each submitted about how they could enhance the Georgia State or Greater Atlanta community.
For example, Raines says she is passionate about mentoring young African-American children, in an effort to help decrease the number of black men disproportionately represented in the prison system.
After Raines graduates in May, she plans to attend graduate school for school counseling and eventually open an educational learning center in Macon.
“I really feel like I could make a change by rehabilitating and mentoring our youth before they get to the point that they may end up in our criminal justice system,” she said. “If I can stop one young male from going to jail or young female from being a statistic then I feel like my living isn’t in vain.”