State Fair of Texas

Dallas Woman Marches Into History With Grambling State at State Fair of Texas Classic

Candace Hawthorne, 22, is the band's second-ever female drum major

NBCUniversal, Inc.

The State Fair Classic, the match-up between the Grambling State University Tigers and the Prairie View A&M University Panthers, is back for 2021.

Yes, the football game is a big draw. But the show is the stunning battle of the bands during halftime.

And on Saturday, fans will watch a woman from North Texas take the field and make history.

Candace Hawthorne is only the second woman ever to lead the world-famed Tiger marching band at Grambling State University.

She is one of three drum majors and the first female in 70 years.

"It took a lot of hard work. It took a lot of hard work. But it's really, truly an honor for me. And it's still mind-blowing to me. Like I have to make sure this is all real life for me," said Hawthorne, 22.

Candace Hawthorne, who grew up in the Dallas area was selected as one of three drum majors for the World Famed Tiger Marching Band. Photo Credit: Candace Hawthorne

"Being a female, I'm a lot smaller than my other two drum major companions, so I had to work out on my own so I could catch up to their physical abilities. So whenever I'm not practicing with them, I'm practicing on my own to better myself."

Hawthorne clearly understands her place in history and her place as a role model for girls who'd want to march in her footsteps.

"Anything is possible. No dream is too big or too small as long as you work hard for it. You can get it. Never doubt yourself because you're a female. You do it just as much as a male can do it. As long as you believe in yourself, you got it. Self-confidence is a big key. Make sure you have enough confidence in yourself and believe in yourself because, if nobody else does, you have yourself to believe in," Hawthorne said.

It's advice Hawthorne gives herself. She's had moments of self-doubt and shared with NBC 5 one of her motivational secrets -- a tattoo on her right wrist.

"I don't know if this is professional or not, but I have a motivational tool that tells me to believe. So, whenever I doubted myself, I just look at my tattoo and be like, I got it," she said.

Hawthorne is one of two Grambling drum majors from North Texas. Sheavion Jones, a Dallas native was also selected this year.

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