By Bella Utley, Contributing writer
Ebony Clark was named the 2016 Miss Black and Gold queen, held by by the Zeta Omicron Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. on Oct. 28.
The theme of the night was the “essence of a queen,” and the pageant’s proceeds will go to its philanthropy organization, March of Dimes. There were eight contestants in the pageant from different areas and majors. The women were judged in six categories such as introduction, swimwear, creative/performing arts, formal wear, interviews and scholarships.
Awards included Spirit of Alpha, Miss Congeniality, Quarles Elliot, Most Talented, Second Runner Up, First Runner Up and Miss Black and Gold Queen 2016.
Clark, sophomore from Brownsville, Tennessee, said this was her first pageant and she never imagined that she would win. She said she wasn’t nervous about the experience and that she is most excited to participate in the next level of competition.
“I just want to encourage women everywhere and anywhere that if you feel you want to do something, you can do anything you set your mind to,” Clark said.
Tara Hawthorne, co-host of the event, said the women have been working all semester in preparation.
“This has happened the Friday before Homecoming for so many years,” Hawthorne said. “It is a Homecoming tradition.”
She said every chapter of the national fraternity holds a Miss Black and Gold Pageant, and the winners from each chapter go on to compete regionally and nationally.
Hawthorne said there is an application process that the women go through, as well as a review on their grades.
“The winner is in charge of different programs on campus that empower women,” Hawthorne said. “She is now a representative of Alpha Phi Alpha.”
Brooke Parsons, 2015 Miss Black and Gold queen, said she grew more confident as a woman and felt as if she helped empower other women during her time as Miss Black and Gold.
“This was my first pageant. I was so nervous and shy,” Parsons, senior from St. Louis, said. “I had a lot of people encouraging me to do it so I just went ahead.”
She said she recommends this pageant to any young woman because it is about more than the title or money.
“My favorite part has been working with the new girls,” Parsons said. “Last year I was them, but this time I was able to teach and push them just like I had to get pushed.”