Morgan Hunt, a senior from Pembroke, was crowned Miss UNCP 2005 on January 27.
The Givens Performing Art Center was all glitz and glamour as five beautiful and talented UNCP students competed in front of an audience of 1,200 at the annual Miss UNCP Scholarship Pageant.
Hunt had to call on all her considerable pageant skills as she fought off a cold and sore throat to sing an Ella Fitzgerald arrangement of “Mr. Paganini” in the talent competition of the pageant.
“I was sick all week, and my throat was really hurting. But I made it through,” Hunt said. “I was very excited when I went on stage because my sorority sisters were there supporting me.”
Hunt, who is a former Miss Lumbee, Junior Miss Lumbee and Little Miss Lumbee, said winning the Miss UNCP title is the realization of a dream.
“I am from Pembroke, so this title is important for me to represent my hometown,” she said. “To represent UNCP in the Miss North Carolina Pageant is my childhood dream.”
Hunt’s pageant platform – diabetes awareness – is personally meaningful, even for her choice of songs, she said.
“Ella Fitzgerald died of complications from diabetes, and several of my family members also died from this disease,” Hunt said. “As a health education major, I can relate to this.”
The five contestants, Rasae McClure, Ashley Haywood, Briana Cannoy, Jorgiana Martin and Hunt competed in four categories on stage as well as a pre-show interview in this year’s scholarship pageant, themed, “InFusion.”
Kirstin Elrod, the reigning Miss North Carolina, was mistress of ceremonies, and Lorna McNeill Ricotta, Miss North Carolina 2000, directed the pageant. Elrod added to the entertainment of the evening with two stunning vocal performances.
Miss UNCP 2004 Jessica Ortiz-Carrero performed before giving her farewell speech and best wishes to the new Miss UNCP.
“I wish the best of luck to the contestants,” Ortiz-Carrero said. “You all have what it takes to make UNCP proud. To our Miss UNCP 2005, always remember that your role is an honor. Relish every moment.”
While the judges’ scores were tallied, the audience was given a special performance by UNCP Princess, Carolina McMillan. The 10-year-old Robeson County native stunned the spectators with a tap dance to Lindsay Lohan’s “Rumors.”
Freshman Rasae’ McClure was named Miss Congeniality for her support to fellow contestants during the pageant process. Ashley Haywood, also a freshman, was named second-runner up. Jorgiana Martin, a Teaching Fellow who thrilled the audience with her tap dance to “Great Balls of Fire,” was named first runner-up. The Jessica Reed Community Service Award went to Morgan Hunt.
Hunt won a $1,000 scholarship, $1,000 wardrobe allowance for the Miss North Carolina Pageant, a free semester room and board and a 10-carat school ring. She is already preparing for the pageant.
“Ive already started planning,” Hunt said. “June may seem like a long way off, but I have a short time to prepare, and time is going to go fast.”
Robin Connolly is a senior Mass Communications major at UNCP.