An unusual path

Published 2:23 am Saturday, October 11, 2008

When she graduated high school in 2000, Latasha Kimber — Concordia’s 2008 homecoming queen — did not expect to receive a degree from the school.

She enrolled at Alabama State University in 2000. But two months in, her mother — a Concordia administrator in 1980 — passed away, and Kimber returned to Selma.

“There’s lots of tragedy in young people’s lives, and sometimes they let that defeat them,” said Concordia CEO Portia Shields. “But she is a shining example of someone who took the blows and kept on moving. Where she is today is a tribute to that kind of spirit and confidence she exuded to win the prize.”

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Kimber enrolled at Wallace Community College to study cosmetology. She received her stylist license in 2001 and has styled hair for the last seven years.

Her new vocation opened a door on the professional front, and in 2006, it opened a new one on the academic front as well.

“I decided to come back to Concordia to pursue my degree in education,” said Kimber. “After pursuing my degree in education, I plan to obtain my master’s and become a reading specialist.”

Only a few years ago, Duane Noel didn’t see Concordia in his future, either. Homecoming king was also pretty far down the list of expectations.

Noel — whose father is an American citizen but does not live here — was recruited from Trinidad and Tobago by former Concordia soccer coach and fellow Trinidad native Winston Williams.

His mother was against him going to Concordia, but Noel saw parallels between the move and the business degree he sought.

“I was a bit skeptical. (My mom) was skeptical of how I would cope with the change,” said Noel. “If you want to survive in business, you have to be able to adapt to change. So I thought this would be a perfect experience to start off my life.”

The selection process for the king and queen is not as cut and dried as most would think.

Candidates have to at least a 2.5 GPA or above to apply. Once applications are received, applicants are interviewed. During this process, they must answer a series of questions pertaining to world issues.

Following the interview, remaining applicants develop their own talent and then showcase their senses of casual, professional and formal attire.

When Kimber was named homecoming queen, she was not surprised. She felt confident that she would win.

“It’s a great honor to represent Concordia and give back what they’ve given me,” she said.

The titles of king and queen come with additional perks besides recognition.

Noel and Kimber also received $1,000 scholarships, trophies, nameplates and a trip to the United Negro College Fund meeting in New York next week.