Veronica Sumner

Standing in front of a public speaking class facing at least 20 other people, a young lady began to give her speech. To her amazement, the room fell quiet. She opened well, but once she got to the second note card, everything went wrong. Her hands began to shake slightly, and after 30 seconds, her hands shook uncontrollably. By the end of her speech, she was in tears and everyone watching was in awe, not because the speech was just that good, but because no one understood the reason behind her tears. When someone asked her why she took the class, she said “I have to know how to speak in front of people in order to accomplish the things I want in life.” This was not any speaker; this young lady was Veronica Sumner, our recently elected 2007-2008 Miss Dillard University.

Choosing the road less traveled is the story behind Sumner’s life. In her hometown of Little Rock, Ark., Sumner volunteered in the March of Dimes for premature babies, the Salvation Army, Children’s Hospital, and Toys for Tots. Sumner, along with her mother and sisters, also planned programs for the patients at the VA Hospital. Sumner is very active in her church, as well, and shares an interest in mentoring teenagers. Everything seemed to be going well, until it was time for Sumner to find a college.

“I wanted to get away from home after high school and I was sure that I would, but some things happened in my life that threatened my chances of going out of state for school altogether,” Sumner said.

While at a college fair, Sumner filled out an application for admittance to Dillard University. She did not know anything about Dillard, but she knew that she wanted to go to a historically black university. After all of the events that took place in her life, she was sure that any school outside of Arkansas was out of the question. However, one Sunday while at church, her pastor asked her if she was thinking about going to any school in Louisiana. Sumner knew that the only school she applied to in Louisiana was Dillard. Her pastor told her that it was her destiny to go to school in Louisiana.

“Ever since that Sunday, nothing but great things [have] happened to me and the people around me every year,” Sumner said.

In spring of 2005, Sumner ran for the 2008 Class Queen. She won, but once back on Dillard’s campus after Hurricane Katrina, Sumner had to assume the position of Class Attendant. She held this position for two years, which gave her the opportunity to work directly with Miss Dillard. It was at that very moment that Sumner knew that she wanted to be Miss Dillard for the 2007-2008 school year and on March 22, that dream became reality.

Sumner said she plans to keep some, if not all of the ideas that were implemented from the past Miss Dillards. Some of her ideas include volunteering at the Children’s Hospital, mentoring at schools, holding basketball tournaments, in which, the kids team up with some of the college students, and urging young males to make a difference in the lives of young boys.

“I am elated to be the newly elected Miss Dillard and I plan to do all that I can do to make a difference in the lives of many people for the upcoming school year and many more to come,” Sumner said.