Story by Tierra Reese, Staff writer
Judges crowned Jarea Brice, senior from Murray, the winner of the inaugural Miss Murray State University International Pageant as the crowd filling Wrather Museum cheered her on Oct. 16.
Serah Waweru, president of the African Student Association, said she realized the need for a international pageant after watching the Miss Murray State University pageant on campus last year.
“I realized there was a trend in contestants and many of my international friends thought they did not fit the mold and would never get a chance to grace the stage,” Waweru said.
More than 20 women applied to compete in the pageant, but judges could only choose one person per country represented. They added in interviews and resumes to make selections.
“When I had initially signed up for the pageant, I had no intention on actually winning,” Brice said. “It was completely out of my comfort zone but I really wanted to try something new.”
Brice won a cash prize and the title of being an Ambassador for the African Students Association.
“I am not really sure about the responsibilities that come with this role but if the opportunity presents itself, I am sure I would be up to the task,” Brice said.
The preparation it took for the pageant was three weeks long with practices every day after classes. Brice said her schedule became quite chaotic during the weeks leading up to the pageant.
“It was really hectic for me with school work and rowing considering we have practices during the evening,” she said.
“I had taken off a week due to a death in the family and literally just got home the weekend before the pageant with not many things in order.”
First runnerup and winner of Miss Congeniality, Humira Ahmad Khan, said although practices made her evenings extremely busy, she liked to get to hang out with the other women. She said it was a huge difference from not having someone there, like a roommate, to being able to call her new friends her family.
Khan, who ran as Miss Pakistan, said she enjoyed spending time with the other women in the pageant.
“We felt like models because it was officially done with a choreographer,” she said. “We learned how to walk in heels and we fell down, we all started laughing which was the funniest part.”
Brice said her favorite part was hanging with the other girls during group activities.
“I had the most fun just being around the other girls and those who helped put everything together,” Brice said. “I really enjoyed the group dance that was performed for the opening act.”
Waweru said she wants to make this a tradition at Murray State for foreign students.
“This pageant meant so much to me because we have ladies who can finally get involved around campus without feeling as if they are being excluded,” she said.