By: Sheri Sides
Jessica Ortiz-Carerro, dressed in a flowing, white evening gown, gracefully strolled onto the stage of the Givens Performing Arts Center with a microphone in hand and began to sing "Unforgettable." She had only one goal in mind: to become the 2004 Miss UNCP Scholarship Pageant winner…and she did.
Miss UNCP 2003, Robin Baker, crowned Ortiz-Carerro January 29. Ortiz-Carerro considers this her first pageant. "The only other thing I have done that comes close to this is a beauty pageant in high school, but it did not consider talent or personality," Ortiz-Carerro said. "I thought by participating I could challenge almost all of my fears and grow and represent UNCP, which I'm proud of."
Ortiz-Carerro, 18 and a Fayetteville native, is a freshman biology major. She received a $1,000 scholarship, free room and board for a year, a class ring, free tanning, $200 in styling products and $1,000 to go towards her wardrobe as she prepares to represent UNC Pembroke in the Miss North Carolina pageant in June.
Ortiz-Carerro's platform is to inspire greatness with Special Olympics, and she hopes to involve more children from the local area to participate and more UNC Pembroke students to volunteer. "It only takes a little time to make a big difference to these children," Ortiz-Carerro said during the question/answer segment of the pageant.
"Jessica came across as very relaxed and natural, yet enthusiastic and interactive," Executive Director of the Pageant and UNCP Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, Dr. Diane Jones said. "She will serve as a role model for other young women and be an official representative at various functions."
Erica Dellinger, 18, of Pembroke was first runner-up and will receive a $500 scholarship. She will stand-in for Ortiz-Carerro for any future commitments if Miss UNCP 2004 is unable to attend. Dellinger is a freshman biology major and her platform is teen tobacco prevention. She sang "This Time Around" for the talent portion of the pageant.
Jamillah Jackson, 18, of Goldsboro was second runner-up and won a $300 scholarship. Jackson's platform is hypertension awareness and she performed a praise dance during the talent portion of the pageant.
The Jessica Reed Family Service Scholarship and the Miss Congeniality Award went to Tara Bishop, 21, of Huntersville. She is a senior elementary education major and her platform is promoting positive body image and self-esteem.
The crown was awarded based on the judge's private interviews with the six contestants and swimsuit, evening gown and talent competitions.
The theme of the pageant was "Reflections." Mistress of Ceremonies and Miss North Carolina 2003, Dana Reason entertained as did Miss Fayetteville 2003, Kelli Wallace, Miss UNCP 2002. Miss North Carolina 2000, Lorna McNeill Ricotta, was pageant director.