Women of color who exemplify grace, style, poise and academic excellence were recognized in a scholarship pageant Saturday at the Iowa State Alumni Center.
The Omicron Pi chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. hosted their annual Miss Black & Gold Scholarship Pageant that allows black and brown women to formally compete for a scholarship.
The winner of the pageant is given the change to advance to further competitions such as regionals in Toronto, Canada, and then possibly nationals competition in Las Vegas.
The district finals of the pageant hosted by the fraternity on Iowa State campus welcome black and brown college women from Iowa State and Drake University to participate.
After 10 years of not hosting in 2015, Alpha Phi Alpha decided to and continued their tradition of hosting again in 2019.
“This is a platform for black and brown women to gain experience and get out of their box,” said Julian Neely, historian chair for Alpha Phi Alpha and Student Government president.
This years’ participants included: Jada Alexander, sophomore in biology, Nadine Veasley, junior in microbiology, Azariah Franklin, junior in kinesiology and health and Reality Hendricks, senior in theater and performing arts from Drake.
Emceed by Jeremiah Reed, chapter president, the four young women competed through the different stages of the pageant.
First stage was the introductory stage, introducing themselves to the judges and audience as who they are, what they study, where they are from, their inspirations and what they aspire to be.
Following the introductions, they modeled their own sense of fashion in business professional attire for the judges and audience.
The ladies then proceeded to their talent performances where Alexander and Hendricks performed songs of their choosing and Franklin and Veasley recited original poems.
From matters of being a black woman in today’s society to facing the death of a loved one, the varieties of topics captured the experiences the women have endured throughout their lives.
To end the competition, the four women modeled their formal gowns and and proceeded to answer the question asked of what they believed was the most important issue for young minorities today.
Responses varied from how the system does not allow an even playing field to young minorities, to being ignorant and entitled, the women proceeded to speak on a topic to some many felt that is not addressed enough.
As the competition came to an end, the 2017 Miss Black & Gold, Alia Jamison had the honor of crowning Franklin as the 2019 Miss Black & Gold.
“This is more a developmental experience than just a scholarship opportunity,” Jamison said.
The participants said this opportunity was more of something to get them out of their comfort zone.
Some of the girls also said how this was something they did to help boost their confidence.
“If you are not so sure of who you are, just do it, it helps to shape who you are,” Alexander said.
Being it was a small community within the pageant, many of the ladies said it was an easier process as they had a family dynamic within the experience.
Franklin said her involvement with the pageant came through the inspiration of family.
Franklin’s cousin was crowned Miss Black and Gold at Virginia Tech a few years back.
Franklin said taking this experience was something completely out of her element but was an opportunity that would make a mark and benefit her future.