During the University of Memphis homecoming game at the Liberty Bowl Stadium, a highly anticipated event transpired, adding an extra layer of excitement to the occasion; the winners of the Mr. & Ms. University of Memphis title were finally revealed. The crowd's anticipation soared as senior civil engineering major Anthony Miles secured Mr. U of M, while senior nursing major Kourtney Pryor claimed the Ms. U of M crown. The Student Government Association sponsored scholarship was awarded as well, given to students who exemplify leadership in their efforts to foster the progress of the U of M student body. These individuals serve as ambassadors for a campus community fueled by proactive engagement and commitment.
"While many consider it just a name, I consider it another way to help and be of change," said Miles, who explained what holding the title means to him. Born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, Anthony Miles is a dynamic community leader. Currently, he holds the position of president of the organization Empowered Men of Color and co-director of the Alternative Break Experience, a 6-day, 5-night service immersion trip designed to be a hands-on opportunity for students to learn more about themselves, others, and the world around them. Alongside his academic pursuits, Miles is also engaged in real estate, a profession he plans to sustain post-graduation. Additionally, a career in construction-based engineering is another one of Miles' aspirations once he completes his studies.
As Mr. U of M, one of Miles' upcoming initiatives is the "Invest in Your Future" plan, a platform designed to empower the University of Memphis community. “It is a platform geared towards providing students with the necessary information to be successful, not only now, but in their future." The plan includes practical guidance on building credit scores, reducing debt, and understanding the nuances between scholarships and loans. Miles's inspiration for "Invest in Your Future" stems from a keen awareness of the financial struggles faced by many students. A 2019 poll conducted by College Pulse, a research and analytics company focused on college studies, indicated that of the 1,500 college students surveyed, one-third, or 35% of students said they were not confident in managing their finances, and almost two-thirds or 64% said they were only somewhat confident. Miles's diligence to address this issue head-on is evident, marking him as a leader with a vision for positive change on campus.
Miles describes himself as "a servant, one who desires to make change in any way, shape, fashion, or form. Being Mr. University of Memphis is just another stepping stone for me to be a way of change… more than I have already been." As Miles continues to evolve as a community leader as well as an advocate for financial empowerment, his initiatives demonstrate his drive to make a long-lasting and positive difference in the lives of those around him.
Kourtney Pryor, the newly crowned Ms. University of Memphis for 2023, expressed a mix of "disbelief, but thankfulness immediately after," upon hearing her name announced for the eminent title. A Memphis native, Pryor consistently displays impactful leadership as she generates positive contributions to the U of M community.
Having consecutively served as a Frosh Camp counselor for two years, Pryor has demonstrated her commitment to student engagement. Her dedication earned her the position of Director of Counselor Development for Fall 2023, showcasing her passion for cultivating growth and development within the student body. Additionally, Pryor serves as an ambassador for the Tiger Elite program.
Among her ambitious initiatives, Pryor is eager to introduce PACE, or Purposely Achieving Cornerstone Experiences, on the U of M campus. PACE is designed as a platform for students to “connect with their peers, prepare for post-grad life, and remind them that they are not alone during this journey of college.” Furthermore, Pryor's "Grit and Grind with Gratitude" initiative takes a more personal approach to student engagement. This endeavor encourages students to write notes of gratitude, kindness, and encouragement for their peers, with the aim of spreading positivity across campus. These notes will be distributed to all students, promoting a culture of gratitude and support. Expressing her enthusiasm for the "Grit and Grind with Gratitude" initiative, Pryor said, "I'm super excited about this one because it will engage and affect students who may never come into the inner workings of campus where most students are."
Through these initiatives, Pryor wants to ensure that students are surrounded by opportunities that allow them to connect and build stronger relationships in the community, as well as give students insight and positive affirmations on their plans and goals following graduation. Her commitment to the well-being of the U of M community reflects her tenacity to create a positive and supportive environment for all.
“Becoming Ms. U of M means that I now have the privilege of motivating others to see beyond their limits. It is an honor to hold this title, and I plan to give my very best every single day to show students that I am not just Ms. U of M, who wears a crown and a sash, but I am a person that they can truly count on to listen to and support them.”
Undoubtedly, the recently crowned Mr. and Ms. University of Memphis are dedicated to the well-being and interests of the student body as they assume their roles. Students can anticipate many great opportunities to enhance their financial literacy and cultivate meaningful connections within their community, under their leadership.