September 1, 2010
10-143

Kate Elliot
Communications Specialist

Alumna Crowned Miss Liberia

 

VALDOSTA -- Mahja Zeon was 7 when her family fled the Second Liberian Civil War for refuge in the United States. Now 24, the aspiring lawyer has refocused attention on her homeland -- of which 85 percent of the population lives on less than $1.25 per day.

With a platform of “Embracing Culture through Knowledge,” Zeon was crowned Miss Liberia in the USA by the Liberian United Women in Progress (LUWIP) -- which strives to create a forum for young women of Liberian decent to embrace and promote their culture, express their talent, and showcase their accomplishments.

“I will travel throughout the United States to speak and lobby for the best interest of the citizens of Liberia,” said Zeon, who earned a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Business Administration from VSU. “During my reign, I hope to write and publish a dialect book and start a scholarship competition for Liberian high school seniors.”

In December, Zeon will travel to Liberia, where she plans to address the congress and hopes meet the Honorable President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. The alumna of VSU’s Theta Tau Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta said she entered the competition to share her message of unity. Zeon mesmerized audiences during the talent competition as she performed a skit depicting a scene in shackles to symbolize the decades of destruction in her native Liberia. She ended the skit to the sounds of thunder and lighting in a dark room as she called out for peace.

"I wanted the audience to not only hear my words but feel the passion from which I spoke,” said Zeon, who earned a paralegal certificate from Emory University in August. “The flash to darkness with my call for peace gave the exact reaction I was looking for, which I believe pushed my performance to the next level."

This wasn’t Zeon’s first crowning. As a VSU student, the chartering president of the Valdosta State University Rotaract Club, was named Miss Black & Gold 2006 for the Mu Omicron chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. Zeon was an active member of the Valdosta State community. She participated in the political science study abroad program in the Czech Republic, and was one of eight students to compete in the first International Model United Nations Competition, held in Xian, China (where her team won first place overall). She also worked as a campaign organizer for President Barack Obama’s Campaign for Change in Lowndes County and served as co-director of the African Exhibition for the Azalea International Folk Fair.

LUWIP chose Zeon -- who interned for the Georgia General Assembly her senior year -- because of her goal-oriented, career savvy nature. She is a beautiful woman who is culturally aware, educated and spiritually sentient, LUWIP stated. The former VSU resident assistant said she hopes to use these traits as an ambassador throughout the year and then as an immigration attorney.