HOT SPRINGS, AR (KAIT/KARK) - Northeast Arkansas was well-represented at the 79th Miss Arkansas Scholarship Pageant in Hot Springs.
At the end of the four-day competition, eleven contestants were named semi-finalists. The Top 10 became 11 when judges indicated there was a tie.
Four of the semi-finalists are natives of, or represented, Northeast Arkansas: Jenn Ulloa - Miss Lights of the Delta, Destiny Quinn - Miss Northeast Arkansas, Maggie Benton - Miss Arkansas Delta, all received $2,000 scholarships for making Top 11.
Bailey Moses - Miss Arkansas State University, of Cabot, received a $6,000 scholarship for finishing in the Top 5.
"Well, I wasn't expecting to hear my name called for the Top 11, but when I did I felt honored that the judges had acknowledged my hard work," Ulloa said. "Debbye Turner [one of the judges] is a role model to me and to see her smile at the Top 11 was really rewarding. But, I think I was more excited to hear my sister queens and best friends called!"
"Making the Top 11 was an exhilarating experience and one that I will never forget," Quinn said. "I feel extremely blessed to have had this opportunity and to have achieved something that I have been working on for years."
"Being called to the Top 11 was the defining moment of my week because I had reached a goal," Benton said. "I knew that no matter what happened after that, nothing could match that amazing feeling!"
"Being in the Top 10, much less the Top 5, is an absolute thrilling moment all of us anticipate and dream of... just to hear your named called on that stage is a moment where you reflect on all the moments you sacrificed to train a little bit harder to become a better you," Moses said. "It's truly a rewarding moment. But out of all the personal and emotional rewards in that moment, nothing tops the realization that I would now be able to go to graduate school because of the amount of scholarship (money) earned."
In addition to being named semi-finalists, the young women took home several other prizes and scholarships.
Quinn, of Jonesboro, was awarded the Collegiate Spirit Award on the opening night of the preliminary competition. The $500 scholarship is given to a contestant on a spirit squad with the highest GPA.
Ulloa, of Jonesboro, received the "Confidently You" scholarship for her work with The Haven of Northeast Arkansas, Inc., a domestic violence service center in Blytheville. The $500 scholarship recognized her efforts to help victims of domestic violence.
Benton, of Jonesboro, won the Kay Allen Rosenblum "Inspiration" Award, a $1,000 Scholarship and the Quality of Life Top 5 finalist for $250.
Jade Collins - Miss Greater Jonesboro, of Hector, and Jacey Winn - Miss Northwest Arkansas, of Wynne, both received a $1,000 scholarship for finishing in the Top 15.
Bailey Moses, who was named third runner-up to Miss Arkansas, was also awarded the Quality of Life award for $2,000; the Service Before Self Award, a $250 scholarship; the Lifestyle and Fitness in Swimsuit Award, a $1,000 scholarship; and was recognized for her fundraising efforts benefiting Arkansas Children's Hospital.
Not only did the Northeast Arkansas contestants do well at Miss Arkansas, their leadership received recognition, too.
Abby Houseworth Whitener, NEA Director, and Denise Holdaway, River Delta Executive Director, were named Local Directors of the Year.
Two former Miss Americas were also part of the judging panel. Debbye Turner Bell, Miss America 1990, and Kim Aiken Cockerham, Miss America 1994, were part of the five-member panel.
Miss Heart of the Ozarks, Savvy Shields, a University of Arkansas senior, was crowned Miss Arkansas 2016 by Loren McDaniel, who wrapped her reign on July 9 during the crowning ceremony.
The Miss Arkansas scholarship pageant boasted the largest amount of scholarship monies ever assembled by the Miss Arkansas organization. Nearly $122,000 in scholarships were awarded throughout the week to various contestants.
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