ST. PETERSBURG — Boca Ciega High School senior, Teniyah Vinson will represent the State of Florida in the upcoming America’s Homecoming Queen competition at the 57th Annual AutoZone Liberty Bowl in Memphis next month.
As a little girl she dreamt of one day earning the title of homecoming queen, an honor that is a family tradition. Her grandmother, Annie Mae Sheeley-Richardson, was queen in 1963 at Gibbs High School and her parents, Tiffani and Robert Vinson, were queen and king at Boca Ciega back in 1990. Fast forward 25 years later and Teniyah proudly holds the title at her parents’ alma mater.
When a teacher told her about the national competition she decided to submit an application. Applicants are chosen based on their academic performance, service to the community and leadership abilities.
Teniyah is an honor roll student and is involved in volunteer work. She has more than 200 hours of volunteer experience at St. Anthony’s Hospital, summer volunteer hours logged in at the University of South Florida and at many other organizations. She is also a graduate of the 2014 National Student Leadership Conference at Harvard University.
“I would like to inspire other girls,” Teniyah said. “I would like to tell them that it doesn’t matter what background they come from—anything can happen if you try. This experience has definitely boosted my confidence and I think it can do the same for other girls.”
Teniyah will be in competition with homecoming queens from across the country, each representing their state and competing for college scholarships. The queens are only allowed to compete once, so every young woman will be there for their first time.
Judges are looking for that career minded all American girl. All finalists in the national competition will receive a scholarship with the amount to be determined by how they place. The scholarships must be used three years from the dates granted.
Teniyah is elated that she has been chosen out of all the other applicants to represent Florida at the Liberty Bowl where the Kansas State Wildcats will play against the Arkansas Razorbacks.
“It’s kind of surreal,” said Teniyah. “At first I didn’t think that I would get this far. It’s exciting!”
The young women are also competing for the title of America’s Homecoming Queen, which was founded in 1981 as a way to encourage leadership, academic success and college education for young women across the country. After high school graduation, Teniyah would like to attend a four-year university and focus on studies in the medical field.
“Teniyah fully embraced the entire process of becoming queen with great tenacity,” said her mother. “I am extremely excited about all the hard work and dedication I witnessed as she committed to the task and persevered through. I am proud beyond measure of the qualities she demonstrated–qualities that will ultimately help her to soar to extraordinary heights.”
The event will be televised on ESPN, and Miss America 2016 Betty Cantrell will be there providing entertainment during the patriotic pre-game show. Country music entertainer Craig Morgan will perform during the half-time show and will be joined by high school marching bands and homecoming queens from across the country.
“This has truly been one of Teniyah’s greatest accomplishments thus far,” said her father. “Everything that I have tried to instill spiritually, academically, socially and culturally has come to fruition and now she has the opportunity to be seen on a national and global stage.”