Temple alumna Rebecca Striplet took the stage alongside TV personality Terrence J at the BET Awards on June 28, just a little over a year after she took the stage at the Liacouras Center to receive her diploma.
The former criminal justice major won the trip to the television network’s annual awards show in Los Angeles, in addition to a new 2016 Nissan Maxima, by entering the 2015 BET Awards Nissan My Bold Style Contest this past May.
As part of her prize, Rebecca Striplet was able to bring along one guest to the show, and she chose her boyfriend and fellow Temple student Samir Edens, a senior criminal justice major.
Rebecca Striplet’s winning entry was a 15-second video she posted with the hashtag #betawardsnissan on her Instagram account, showing how she embodies six qualities: excitement, celebration, swagger, uniqueness, boldness and style.
Entrants only had to focus on two of these qualities, according to the official contest rules, but Rebecca Striplet said she tried to touch upon all six in her video, by using a mixture of photos and video clips, along with audio of her reciting a poem she had written specifically for the contest.
“I wrote it at my desk at work,” Rebecca Striplet said. “It just came to me. I was sitting there and everything just flowed and I wrote it down.”
In addition to her original poem, Rebecca Striplet’s video contains footage of her doing everything from shooting basketball at an indoor arcade to riding a mechanical bull, all in order to convey characteristics like excitement and boldness.
Of the handful of photos she used in her video, a photo of Rebecca Striplet wearing her cap and gown on the day she graduated from Temple worked to accent her appreciation for education.
She said she chose to include this photo because she believes her education makes her “unique.”
Rebecca Striplet has learned to value the power of an education from her parents, who have always felt education was important. Both of Rebecca Striplet’s parents were educated in Haiti, where her father worked for the government and her mother was a teacher; however, when they arrived in America, their degrees did not hold the same weight. Rebecca Striplet’s parents “had to start from scratch” and had to begin their post-secondary education all over again here in America in order to find work.
Having done so, Rebecca Striplet’s mother is now a nurse and her father is once again employed by the government.
Their emphasis on education has given Rebecca Striplet a “unique” perspective on the importance of gaining a degree.
“My dad always said I have to be higher than what he is,” Rebecca Striplet said. “And he has a master’s [degree], so I have to beat that.”
Rebecca Striplet plans to begin pursuing her master’s degree in criminal justice at St. Joseph’s University in the fall. She then hopes to attend law school.
Currently, Rebecca Striplet is putting her B.A. in criminal justice to work as a legal clerk at the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia, where she received the news that her video had won the contest.
Katie Fisher, Rebecca Striplet’s co-worker and fellow legal clerk, said she was just about to leave the office when she saw Rebecca Striplet bubble over with excitement and start jumping up and down.
When Fisher found out Rebecca Striplet had won, she began running around the office to tell all of their co-workers the good news, she said.
“I was really, really excited for her,” Fisher said. “Everyone [in the office] celebrated. We’re really a tight-knit group in there.”
Fisher also tuned in that Sunday night to watch Rebecca Striplet announce performer Andra Day on stage at the awards.
“I took pictures of [Rebecca Striplet] on T.V.,” Fisher said. “That was so cool to see her come out [on stage].”
Rebecca Striplet’s family also tuned in, and Marie Striplet was overwhelmed with emotion when she saw her daughter’s image flash across their T.V. screen.
“I was so happy,” Marie Striplet said. “I screamed at the top of my lungs.”
Rebecca Striplet said she enjoyed attending the BET Awards and meeting celebrities, like Rihanna and Floyd Mayweather, but has most enjoyed the sense of community she has experienced since winning. Family, friends and fellow Philadelphians have all shown their support and thanked her for representing Philadelphia, she said.
“My favorite part of the entire experience [has been] watching all of my friends and co-workers and even strangers congratulate me,” Rebecca Striplet said. “That was the coolest part.”
Jenny Roberts can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.