Web Accessibility Support

Farewell Mr. Howard: Spotlighting a 2024 Graduate and Changemaker

Mahlon West, the 47th Mr. Howard University, reflects on his evolution from ‘Baby Bison’ to alumnus as a member of the Class of 2024

The 47th Mr. Howard University Mahlon West and the 84th Miss Howard University Armani Washington wave during the Howard University's 2023 Homecoming Royal Revival Coronation

As a member of Howard’s COVID class of 2024, Mahlon West, like many other students, has had an untraditional Howard experience. The societal disruption of COVID-19, in which freshmen like West spent their first year at Howard in virtual learning, caused many students to fight for their experience in the time they had left on campus. 

The 2023-2024 Mr. Howard University hit the ground running upon his arrival to campus during his sophomore year. West was unsatisfied with the lack of community at The Mecca fueled by social distancing and virtual classes. 

As a student at Booker T. Washington High School in Atlanta, West was captain of the football team and founded the debate team along with other extracurricular activities. He graduated in 2020 as the valedictorian of his class.  

“When I got to Howard and didn’t have any of these things that I was used to having, I knew I had to do something to make that change,” said West. “I saw a difference in myself because of a lack of community, so I started to look for one on campus.”  

Through his programming as a University representative on the Royal Court, West has hosted a basketball tournament for student entrepreneurs, created Mecca Market – a collective of student owned pop-up businesses – and turned his clothing company ‘Basement Boy’ to a popular student brand on campus.    

“I didn’t have my own room so I used my mom’s basement as a get-away. Me and my best friend would be in the basement making art, music and clothes before we even had the name,” West recalled. “I grew up in an urban area where a lot of my friends didn’t go to college and usually ended up dead or in jail, so Basement Boy was my way to connect with my peers.” 

While West’s job as Mr. Howard University may include perfectly posed photo opportunities, and a good amount of campus celebrity, it has centered around dedication to serving and connecting the Howard community.   

“You can call it popularity, but at the end of the day, students are voting you in a position which is them putting their trust in you,” said West. “If you think you’re going to win a student leadership position of this caliber without being known then that’s doing yourself a disservice...you have to be known in your community for them to trust you enough to put you in this position.”   

West majored in health management and pursued a double minor in business administration and sociology. In addition to his studies and position, West interned at various companies during his time at Howard, including Cricket Wireless, Cerevel Therapeutics, McMaster-Carr, a hardware equipment company, and Gucci.  

West welcomes the next Mr. Howard, Gregory Allen Jr., to continue the legacy this position brings to the school. His advice to future Mr. Howard Universities resonates as advice to all.  

“If you want to make everybody happy, don't be a leader. Sometimes you have to make tough decisions, but it should all be in good faith. It should all be about the entire student body. Lean on your community, be a listening ear above all, and be as creative as you can with solving issues.”