Miss MSU winner makes history

Photo courtesy of Jeremiah Johnson
Miss MSU winner, Tanelle Smith, sophomore from Cape Girardeau, Mo., poses with President Bob Davies after being crowned.Photo courtesy of Jeremiah Johnson Miss MSU winner, Tanelle Smith, sophomore from Cape Girardeau, Mo., poses with President Bob Davies after being crowned.

Miss MSU judges crown Tanelle Smith as Murray State’s first black queen

Photo courtesy of Jeremiah Johnson Miss MSU winner, Tanelle Smith, sophomore from Cape Girardeau, Mo., poses with President Bob Davies after being crowned.

Photo courtesy of Jeremiah Johnson
Miss MSU winner, Tanelle Smith, sophomore from Cape Girardeau, Mo., poses with President Bob Davies after being crowned.

The “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” themed Miss Murray State University pageant took place Saturday in Lovett Auditorium as history was made by crowing the first black queen.

Emily Baker, junior from Russellville, Ky., was the marketing specialist for the pageant.

Her main goal was to increase student attendance and awareness of the pageant.

“One thing I always noticed about Miss MSU was the lack of student knowledge and interest in the event,” Baker said. “These girls work so hard preparing for this scholarship opportunity and they deserve to be supported by the students, staff and community … Through social media we were able to gain followers and interest from the student body.”

The audience was welcomed by Executive Director Laken Kanipe, junior from Clay, Ky.

  “I am excited for the audience to see the opening number,” Kanipe said before the show. “We’ve worked hard to make sure the show is really unique and entertaining for all.”

The curtains parted to reveal the 15 contestants on stage in black dresses, black shoes, black gloves and pearl jewelry in true “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” style.

The contestants introduced themselves and did their first runway walk of the performance.

The pageant is divided into four categories; a five-minute interview that took place Saturday morning, a stage interview, evening gown and the top five contestants’ final walks.

After the stage interview, the cast of “Rent” from Playhouse in the Park performed a song from their show that runs April 16-18 and 23-25 in Murray’s Central Park.

The top five contestants were selected by the judges after the evening gown portion. Upon being selected, they took their final runway walks.

After the top five did their final walks, Summer Davis, senior from Benton, Ky., took her final walk as Miss MSU 2014 while the judge’s votes were tabulated.

The final placing was:

Fourth runner up: Olivia Perkins, junior from Harrodsburg, Ky.

Third runner up: Amanda Hobson, junior from Henderson, Ky.

Second runner up: Kevyn Ann Cunningham, sophomore from Kevil, Ky.

First runner up: Mary Dodd, junior from Cape Girardeau, Mo.

Queen: Tanelle Smith, sophomore from Henderson, Ky., was crowned as Miss MSU

“Watching Tanelle throughout the entire process, I knew she had what it took to shine on stage,” Baker said. “I know she will do well representing Murray State University and wearing the crown. I was honored to be a part of the history made at Murray through Tanelle becoming the first African-American Miss MSU. She’s truly beautiful inside and out.”

Smith was crowned and presented with a sash.  She took a teary-eyed first walk across the stage as Miss MSU.

Also, Smith received an $850 scholarship.

Smith made Murray State history that night by being the first African-American to be crowned Miss Murray State. 

This landmark in Murray State history came just a few weeks after the University celebrated the 60th anniversary of its desegregation in 1955.

“In the last 24 hours it still hasn’t hit me that I am Miss Murray State and even more so that I made history as the very first African-American to ever be crowned,” Smith said in a Facebook post Sunday. “Winning this title is such an honor and I am thankful that it allows me to continue to be a leader, role model and represent the University that I love wholeheartedly. Thank you to everyone who has always encouraged and supported me; I truly am dedicated to making you all proud.”

Story by Jessica BostickContributing writer