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Nine Oklahoma City University students to compete for Miss Oklahoma title
[June 05, 2012]

Nine Oklahoma City University students to compete for Miss Oklahoma title

Jun 05, 2012 (The Oklahoman - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Of this year's contestants for Miss Oklahoma, 20 percent will come from Oklahoma City University. The draw: a rich tradition and scholarship money.

Of the 45 contestants, nine of them are from OCU. They are competing for their share of almost half a million dollars worth of scholarships from their school.

The 40th Miss Oklahoma Pageant is Tuesday through Saturday in Tulsa.

The Miss Oklahoma Pageant also offers its own scholarships. The program will give more than $70,000 in cash awards, said Executive Director Kay Alexander. Each contestant will earn at least $350 for competing.

OCU is known for its fine arts, theater and dance programs. It's also sometimes called a pageant school.

"I am at this school because of pageants," said Sheridan Fulkerson, a Miss Oklahoma contestant. "People come here for dance or theater or baseball. They also come for pageants." Three bronze statues stand across the street from the school's Visitors Center, each representing the three OCU grads who went on to win Miss America -- Jane Jayroe, Susan Powell and Shawntel Smith. In the Kirkpatrick Auditorium, where the school's pageant takes place, an entire wall is full of awards.

"We live with it every day," said Darwina Marshall, executive director and president of the Miss OCU Pageant.

This year, the school is offering $490,000 for women who participate in the Miss Oklahoma and Miss Oklahoma Outstanding Teen competitions.

Fulkerson, who started competing when she was 13, went on to participate in the Miss OCU Pageant her senior year of high school.

"The scholarship made me choose OCU," she said.

Marshall said it's not much different from earning an athletic scholarship. In a similar way, women are being rewarded for staying in shape and gaining character.

"I try to help young women get some kind of life skills," Marshall said. "I'm just doing it through a pageant venue. The first goal is to get an education, and second is to be successful in life." For Emily Ousley, a junior at OCU, it's more than a pageant. It's about family and a platform for performing. Ousley is getting ready to compete for the second year in a row.

She came to the school as a theater major. Later she decided to study mass communication, but she still loved the spotlight.

"I need to be on stage, and the pageant is an outlet for that," she said.

Last year, she competed in 11 local competitions before she won a title, which would allow her to compete at the state level. This year, she competed in six before she made it.

___ (c)2012 The Oklahoman Visit The Oklahoman at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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