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On-campus pageant to showcase inner beauty

Competition offers platform for women

Published: Thursday, January 30, 2014

Updated: Thursday, January 30, 2014 00:01



Danielle Sanders, junior health major was last year’s pageant winner.

A group of women on campus is hoping to bring a message to the forefront for Black History Month — inner beauty
is empowering.

Taking this idea to heart, nine students will be featured in the 27th Miss Black & Gold Scholarship Pageant, an annual event put on by the Texas A&M chapter of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity to showcase women on campus.

“I think beauty is empowering, not just on the outside but on the inside,” said Ashley Burk, participant and freshman biology major. “You have to be a strong person to be in a beauty pageant and if others see you being strong, they want to be strong as well.”

With the multitude of images portrayed daily about women, Alpha Phi Alpha Chapter President, Daunte’ Cauley, said the organization wanted to counteract possible negative ideas by allowing a platform for intelligent and talented

“[The event is] to showcase the talents of the young women,” Cauley said. “There are a lot of great young women in this community and we want to just show the true value of a woman.”

Burks said the message to women on campus is simple — beauty comes in all shapes and sizes.

“I wanted to show all the girls that you don’t have to be a certain skin color or a certain size to be in a pageant.” Burks said.

Alpha Phi Alpha has collected $2,000 in scholarship funds to be awarded to the 2014 winner, but participants said it’s not about the money.

Participant and junior sociology major, Ashley Stevenson, who applied to be a participant to get involved with African-American groups on campus, said candidates arrived on Jan. 3 and began practicing from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. Despite the long hours and competitive nature of pageants, Stevenson said the process has yielded friendship and personal development.

“I haven’t really explored those organizations on campus and it’s something really important for me to do while I’m in college,” Stevenson said. “So that’s why I ended up joining the pageant, to meet new people and I guess to just get involved.”

For Chastity Smith, senior bioenvironmental sciences major, participating in the Miss Black & Gold pageant has been a goal since she saw the pageant her freshman year. Regardless of whether or not she wins, Smith said extensive preparation and planning for the competition has forced her to go beyond her preconceived limits.

Fortuna Abebe, senior community health major, said participating in the Miss Black & Gold pageant was in part to prove to herself that she can do anything she puts her mind to and a way to serve as an example.

“It was something challenging and it has helped me with improve my confidence,” Abebe said.

Abebe said she plans to perform a traditional Ethiopian dance that members of her family perform at weddings and other ceremonies for the talent portion of the pageant. The event brings participants together, she said, bringing their talents, personalities and backgrounds to the table.

Abebe said the influence of the event extends beyond the performance night.

“It’s like being a leader you can look up to,” Abebe said. “Because once the pageant is done the queen usually has an impact on different organizations around campus and around the community.”

The event will take place Friday in the Bethancourt ballroom in the MSC. Presale tickets are sold through Alpha Phi Alpha and tickets will also be available at the door.


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