Office of University Communications & Marketing

13 Young Women To Compete For Miss UNA Title, Scholarship
Jan. 23, 2012



FLORENCE, Ala. – Thirteen young women at the University of North Alabama will compete for the chance to represent the campus and Shoals community as Miss UNA Jan. 28 at 7 p.m. in Norton Auditorium.

The pageant theme this year is “Latin Rhythm” and was chosen by 2011-2012 Miss UNA winner Brandi Lewis, a UNA senior majoring in political science. Creative Jewelers, a jewelry store in downtown Florence, has partnered with UNA for the first time to add something new to the pageant for contestants, organizers and audience members.

Each Miss UNA contestant had the opportunity to design her own custom ring from Creative Jewelers. Whoever wins the pageant Jan. 28 will get to keep her ring, as well as obtain the Miss UNA title and many other amenities. The downtown jewelry store also acts as the title sponsor and donated $2,500 to the pageant. Billy Hammock, a UNA alumnus and owner of Creative Jewelers, wanted to give back to his alma mater through the Miss UNA event, according to Cheryl Mathis, coordinator of programming in the Office of Student Engagement.

The Miss UNA event an official preliminary for the Miss Alabama and America pageants. The winner will go on to represent UNA and the Shoals in the Miss Alabama pageant June 6-9. Mathis said the title of Miss UNA comes with many perks.

“From what I see, Miss UNA is treated like a local celebrity in the community,” she said. “She is invited to every parade in the Shoals, and people recognize her in the community and want to support her. Having the title of Miss UNA gives them a sense of claim and a title in that they are the representative of the university when they go on to Miss Alabama.”

The Miss UNA title winner will receive a full scholarship, free college textbooks for two semesters, a custom ring, hair and makeup from Salon Mod and Spa, one-year membership to Gold's Gym, free tanning from Tan City, a $1,500 wardrobe allowance for the Miss Alabama pageant and many other prizes from the local community.

The evening’s mistress of ceremonies will be Erika Odell Ladner, a 2009 UNA alumnus in broadcast journalism and Shoals reporter and photojournalist for WAAY 31 in Huntsville. Ladner, of Tuscumbia, began working at WAAY 31 in September of 2009 as a producer for the TV news station until she was named the official Shoals reporter.

The scholarship pageant allows contestants to develop a number of skills that will enrich their personal and professional lives beyond the university experience. Miss UNA spends her year in service to the university and Shoals area community. She promotes the platform of her choice and makes official appearances as a university representative.

Will Riley, vice president of University Program Council, a branch of the Student Government Association, said the pageant builds character in each of its contestants.

“It’s a great opportunity to showcase UNA’s finest and to see the top of the top of who will go on to represent us at the state level,” he said.

Although only one young woman can be crowned Miss UNA each year, Mathis believes all of the contestants who participate in the pageant benefit from the experience.

“They get experience in confidence, in public speaking, in interviewing, and in learning how to talk about their passions and life experiences,” she said. “The biggest thing is self confidence.”

Categories in which the contestants will be judged include an interview session, worth 25 percent of the final score; an on-stage question, worth 5 percent; a talent portion, worth 35 percent; evening wear, worth 20 percent; and lifestyle and fitness in swimsuit, worth 15 percent.

This year’s contests are Jaleesa Diggins, of Greensboro; Ann Marie Russ, of Florence; Mackenzie Brown, of Guntersville; D’Aria Booker, of Huntsville; Cynthia Billups, of Birmingham; Kaitlin Chappell, of Cullman; Jessica McElvey, of Cleveland; Tayler Patton, of Florence; Brittany Jordan, of Florence; Anne-Marie Hall, of Russellville; Whitney Warren, of Russellville; Lauren Bishop, of Athens and Katherin Fitton, of Collinwood, Tenn.

Miss UNA tickets are free to students and can be picked up in the Office of Student Engagement in the Guillot University Center room 107. Tickets are $12 for general admission and can be purchased online at www.una.edu/boxoffice .

For more information about the Miss UNA pageant, contact Cheryl Mathis in the Office of Student Engagement at 256-765-4248.