This June, five UNC students will have the chance to be crowned.
Sophomores Dominique Alston, Maddisson Sheppard, Summer Hennings, Ciara Ellis and senior Bindhu Pamarthi will be competing in this year’s Miss North Carolina pageant.
The 75th annual pageant will be held in Raleigh June 18-23, with the finals being televised for the first time in 17 years.
Each girl won a preliminary pageant to earn an invitation to the competition.
Beth Knox, director of the Miss N.C. pageant, said there has always been great participation from UNC.
“The pageant is scholarship-based, so it’s not rare at all to see great contestants from your school,” she said, adding that the 2007 and 2008 winners were UNC students.
Hennings competed in and won her first and only pageant to get invited to the Miss N.C. pageant.
“Sometime I get nervous because I don’t know anything, but I think that’s an advantage because I’m an unknown,” she said. “They don’t know me and what my skills are.”
Hennings said the scholarship money is important to her because she’s paying for college herself.
The contestants, in addition to schoolwork, also have to prepare for the four aspects of competition at the pageant: evening wear, swimsuit, talent and interview.
Ellis said juggling school and the pageant has been challenging.
“To do everything you need to get done you almost can’t be a student, but they require it,” she said.
Sheppard won second runner-up in the Miss N.C. pageant last year and said she is looking forward to another chance this year.
“I’m going in this year to be myself,” she said. “I’m excited and nervous all at the same time.”
Pamarthi said she is excited because as a senior, she can finally devote all her efforts toward the pageant after the semester ends.
She is also motivated by her unique position in the pageant.
“To the best of my knowledge there has never been an Asian-American to win the title and that has been weighing on my mind,” she said. “I have a chance to make history.”
Alston said she hopes to win Miss N.C. to influence a broader range of people.
“Every time I put on that crown people will see me in a different light and listen to me,” she said.
The winner of Miss N.C. will have an entire year to act as an advocate for the causes of her choice.
“We can have a lot of influence with what goes on in the state and the nation, and a lot of people don’t know that,” Ellis said.
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