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Mr. UMES named top HBCU orator

  • Friday, February 28, 2014

    Jeremy W. WhichardPRINCESS ANNE, MD. - (Feb. 28, 2014) - Jeremy W. Whichard returned from the 2014 HBCU Kings' Leadership Conference and Competition earlier this month with two honors - runner-up in the 10th annual event and winner of its oratorical competition.

    He bested 15 other entrants in the speech-making competition and came home with a $1,000 prize as runner-up in the Mr. HBCU event at Lincoln University in Missouri.

    "I had a good feeling going into it, that I would do well," Whichard said. "When they announced I had won, it was a numbing but humbling feeling."

    The 16 competitors were given three minutes to give their perspective on "HBCUs (as) the cornerstones for black history and culture" and whether "black men (are) the catalysts at HBCUs."

    Whichard, an English major from Upper Marlboro, focused his message on "how black men conduct themselves now versus how they used to. We have potential to be catalysts, but we're not. I'd describe it as an observation in frustration."

    UMES homecoming organizers asked Whichard to deliver his speech to alumni, who gave him a standing ovation during the annual presidential breakfast held in their honor.

    The recognition for Whichard at a conference of HBCU peer-leaders was capped by participants presenting him with a cake and wishing him a happy 22nd birthday.

    Whichard already knew some competitors he previously met at other conferences, but "I really enjoyed the bond we created that weekend. It solidified the bond. I'd call it a brotherhood."

    Whichard said the experience has reinforced his belief he picked the right university and came under the tutelage of the right mentors.

    He credits former Mr. UMES, Drake Winkey, with showing him the path to being a campus leader. "He took me under his wing when I was a freshman. He saw something in me that I didn't see in myself," Whichard said.

    Bill Robinson, director, public relations (410) 621-2355Bill Robinson, director, public relations (410) 621-2355