By Inesha Jackson
Timmy Bridgeman, a Canton native, is set to serve as the 21st Mister Tougaloo College for the 2021-2022 academic school year. The rising senior English major at Tougaloo College is not only a presidential scholar with a 3.8 GPA, but also a student leader in various organizations on campus. He currently is the vice president of the Beta Rho chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Incorporated, is a Jackson Heart Study scholar, and is a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow.
“Being Mister Tougaloo College is an honor and a privilege. I am grateful that the student body believed in me and what I stood for. I believe that the position allows one to create real change through inspiring, educating, and serving others,” Bridgeman said.
With a campaign mirroring a professional politician, Bridgeman utilized advertisements and endorsements from his peers to promote his campaign slogan, “Bridging the G.A.P.” The idea behind the slogan was spurred from his last name and means going above and beyond, advancing the institution, and putting students first.
“I seek to engage others around me in change. I seek to advance our institution by advocating for innovative progress. Without students, I would not be Mister Tougaloo, which was a position created to serve the student body; therefore, the students’ needs are prioritized,” Bridgeman said.
Due to COVID-19, candidates had to find new and creative ways to campaign. For Bridgeman, that meant creating a virtual environment where his peers could connect with one another and enjoy campaigning events, like a virtual poetry slam.
“During the times where in-person interaction was allowed, I cherished seeing my peers smiling, laughing, and most importantly I enjoyed listening to their concerns and suggestions. I will always keep those memories close to my heart,” Bridgeman said.
Bridgeman’s dedication to positive change and supporting his peers has inspired him to run for Mr. Tougaloo College. He credits his upbringing in Canton for instilling certain core values in him, such as respecting and honoring history, in particularly, the history of Canton.
“With an understanding of the importance of history in our lives, I attended Tougaloo, where ‘History Meets the Future.’ I wanted to continue to bring positivity and progress to my college, community, family, and friends to ensure that the future that history meets is as bright as possible. Also, I believe that connection is one of the most important aspects of our lives. Being connected to the student body, I was inspired to continue to help, advocate for, and empower others through the position,” Bridgeman said.
He plans to leave his mark on Tougaloo’s campus by connecting with and educating his peers. As a leader, he aims to know students personally and for them to know him. In doing this, Bridgeman plans to host many open discussions around social and political change to engage his peers in current events. Bridgeman stated, “When my time at the Eagle Queen comes to an end, I want others to think ‘Timmy was a great Mister Tougaloo.’”
“My entire life has prepared me for this role; however, there are outstanding experiences. Having amazing teachers such as Mrs. Terwinda Banks, Mrs. Aleatrice Liddell, and many more teachers in Canton taught me the value of education and brought a light to my passion for leadership and education. As the former president and current vice president of the Beta Rho chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., I took that light and honed my leadership skills and service skills. Now, I feel empowered to share that light with all around me,” Bridgeman said.
During his leisure time, Bridgeman enjoys reading, writing poetry, and videography. He seeks to inspire, empower, and uplift members of his community as he pursues a Ph.D. in English and a career as a college professor. He lives by the quote by Maya Angelou, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
“I want younger kids in our community to know what I wish I knew at that time. You are incredible. You are amazing. You are loved and capable of doing anything you put your mind to. As a nerdy kid from Garfield street, you can remain yourself while doing it,” Bridgeman said.