Senior football wide receiver D’Mauri Jones wins first place at annual Student-Athlete Talent Show

Taking a break from the field, court, pool or wherever they happen to play, student-athletes from varying sports across the athletic department gathered to share their other talents at the second annual Student-Athlete Talent Show on Monday evening. The event, which was organized by the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, took place in the Shalala Student Center’s Grand Ballroom.

Senior football wide receiver D’Mauri Jones took home the first place prize after a panel of three judges deemed his artwork the top talent of the evening. He presented six different canvasses all with original paintings. Jones came to UM as criminology major, but after realizing he had a knack for art he switched to an art and graphic design major.

“When I came in as a criminology major I felt like something wasn’t there,” Jones said. “I felt like my interest wasn’t really there, but I always had talent with drawing and graphics and stuff like that.”

The panel of judges, which included Sun Sentinel writer Christy Chirinos, UM Assistant Director of Student Programs Alex Martin and UM Chair and Associate Professor in the Department of Education and Psychological Studies Laura Kohn-Wood, admired Jones’s talent and his conviction.

“For me, and all three of us judges talked about it, it took a lot of courage for him to follow his dream and to not take the safe path,” Chirinos said.

Jones was originally reticent to share his work, but overcame his shyness with the encouragement of others.

“I was very shy, but I met the right people who told me I should branch out. Now I have turned over a new leaf, and I am starting to blossom,” he said.

The second and third place awards both went to members of the track and field team, with junior Anthonia Moore finishing second with a spoken word performance, and sophomore Ibrahim Dodo’s hip-hop dance routine landing him a third place finish.

Moore’s performance touched on the racial and gender inequalities minorities face. “It was so real and so honest.” Chirinos said about Moore’s performance. “To me, anybody who got on the stage themselves was amazing, and she was able to have the confidence to get up there and talk about something a lot of people don’t want to talk about.”

Dodo energized the audience with his unique dance moves set to hip-hop music.

The other five performances ranged from a dance from the women’s soccer team to swimmer Angela Algae’s vocal performance. The soccer team danced to a mash up of upbeat songs, including Soulja Boy’s “Crank That” and Rednex’s “Cotton Eye Joe.

“The soccer team looked like they were having an awesome time up there, which is one of the most important things,” Kohn-Wood said.

The talent show operated as a fundraiser for the Debbie School, which is a part of the Department of Pediatrics at the Miller School of Medicine. The event also gave members of the university a chance to interact with student-athletes away from the field, something the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee would like to see more of.

“One of our overall goals is to bridge that gap,” said senior Alexis Wright, president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. “We want to get rid of that stigma that athletes don’t want to be involved in on-campus activities.”