Mechanical engineering senior wins BSU 6th annual talent show


Khirstia Sheffield

The talent show winners, Grantley Samuels, Kenidee Cooper and Preston Busby, at the Black Student Union sixth annual show Feb. 21.

As the spotlight dims, Grantley Samuels, mechanical engineering senior, approaches the stage with his steel pans. Silence falls over the crowd as everyone becomes mesmerized by his exuberant presence. As the Caribbean-Latin music fills the silence of the room, Samuels leaves the audience wanting more.

With a total of 76 points, calculated through crowd participation and the judges rating, Samuels won by a landslide.

“I was very nervous in the beginning. My nerves always get the best of me when I do solo performances. I’m always afraid I’ll mess up, but the nerves disappear once the performance starts,” said Samuels.

Samuels only practiced the night before due to his busy schedule. Even with his lack of practice, his skills proved to be natural and moving to both the audience and judges.

Though Samuels isn’t extremely familiar with performing in front of huge audiences, he did gain the ability to be more expressive among his peers.

Samuels said, “I gained more confidence in expressing myself freely among strangers all while learning to take something simple and build upon it to end up with a great performance.”

Samuels encourages students to step outside of their comfort zone. Whether it’s small steps or big, any step is a chance worth taking.

“Success and growth only happen outside of comfort zones so take bold steps even if they are baby steps,” said Samuels. “Try new things because you never know what’s around the corner. You could be the next talent show winner or the next best selling artist. It all starts with that bold step.”

The Black Student Union strives to connect students from different backgrounds while allowing students to express themselves in a judgment free environment.

Lil’e Ates, executive member of BSU and psychology senior, said, “The support of the audience toward each individual who performed was the best part. It’s always great to have that support considering it’s not the easiest to stand in front of a crowd.”

With a crowd of more than 30 students, BSU members hope this experience will impact students long after their college careers.

Kendra Scott, psychology senior, said, “I enjoyed the different talents and cultures being shown throughout the performances. The Caribbean performance was the most eye opening, I have never seen anything like it before. It made me want to experience different cultures and step outside of my comfort zone.”

Over the years, BSU members has made it a priority to find different ways to create an interactive environment for the audience. This year students in the audience had the chance of becoming a judge through a game which focused on black culture. Three students were chosen among one faculty judge.

“The generations keep going, so it’s very important that we have students willing to keep the traditions and create new ones. Not only does it benefit students during college, but life after college as well,” Ates said.

BSU members believe that through continuous support the talent show can remain a tradition for students willing to expand outside of their culture.

“The college experience wouldn’t be enjoyable if students didn’t get involved,” said Ates. “We always try and encourage the students to go to events, join an organization, or participate in volunteer opportunities, especially underclassmen.”


Grantley Samuels is from a small island in the Caribbean — St. John’s, Antigua. He enjoys a plethora of activities, such as music, going to the gym, hanging out with friends and volunteering. Samuels is also very involved on campus. He is an active member in the Caribbean Student Organization, and he’s the director of Caribbean Pan Ensemble, a band on campus. His favorite food is stew chicken with steamed vegetables and black-eyed peas rice. Outside of spending time with his friends and being involved on campus, he spends his time perfecting his craft as a steel pan player.


  • 1st Grantley Samuels, mechanical engineering senior
  • 2nd Preston Busby, criminal justice senior
  • 3rd Kenidee Cooper, education freshman


  • 1st place: $30 cash prize
  • 2nd place: $10 gift card
  • 3rd place: $10 gift card


  • Kyla Budgewater, accounting sophomore
  • Anissia Jones, exercise physiology senior
  • Jaye Surles, general business freshman
  • Cammie Dean, director of Student Transition Services