Catching up with Miss UNCP, Jessica Ortiz-Carrero


By Scott Bigelow


At Linda's - With Haley Lowery

Catching up with Miss UNCP Jessica Ortiz-Carrero on the afternoon of April 14 was a difficult assignment. She was on a whirlwind tour of downtown Pembroke businesses.

The purpose of the tour was to spread goodwill and to invite the townspeople to the Miss UNCP send-off reception on April 29 (Thursday, 3-4:30 p.m. in the Chancellor's Dining Room). Miss UNCP will compete in the Miss North Carolina Pageant June 23-26.

Since the Miss UNCP Scholarship Pageant on January 29, Ortiz-Carrero has been riding a whirlwind.

"It's been very exciting to do so many interesting things," she said. "I am a freshman, and just 18, so it has been a growing experience."

Even at 18, Ortiz-Carrero has her priorities in order.

"Being Miss UNCP is a huge project and lots of work," she said. "But I am studying hard because I am a student - first and foremost."

A member of UNCP's prestigious University Honors College with plans to major in biology, Ortiz-Carrero laughed as she said, "I study just hard enough to get 'As.'"

As she mixes with townsfolk at 1st Bank, Linda's Restaurant, Lumbee Guaranty Bank and Sheff's Seafood Restaurant, it is obvious that Ortiz-Carrero is a very outgoing Miss UNCP, but she said the stage frightened her at first.

"I am not a 'pageant person,' and I did not see myself on stage," she said. "I just told myself I was going to do it, and I did. My parents were very surprised, but they have been very supportive."

The oldest in a family of three girls, Ortiz-Carrero said she has "to push the envelope a little to give her younger sisters something to look up to."

Inspiring others has been a major part of being Miss UNCP for Ortiz-Carrero. Her platform is to "inspire greatness through Special Olympics," an organization that clearly inspires this queen.

"I fell in love with Special Olympics before I thought about being Miss UNCP," Ortiz-Carrero said. "My roommate is a special education major and a volunteer, and she said 'come on.' That's how I got involved."

Ortiz-Carrero is glad she volunteered for that first Special Olympics bowling tournament.

"I was so inspired because the kids were trying so hard and were so happy," she said.

"Our job was to inspire greatness in them, but they inspired me as they overcome their challenges," Miss UNCP said.

In preparation for the Miss North Carolina Pageant, Miss UNCP is shopping for outfits and polishing her routines.

"I am working very hard to represent UNCP well, but I've had a lot of help from the (Miss UNCP) committee and from Wanda on my hair and make-up," she said.

Volunteer Wanda Lowry Ricard, who was her guide for the business tour of Pembroke, has been working with Ortiz-Carrero.

"I've been interested in pageants all my life, and I've always wanted to be part of the Miss UNCP Scholarship Pageant because Pembroke is my home," Ricard said. "Besides, this is a lot of fun."

With the Miss North Carolina Pageant just two months away, there is a lot to do. And Miss UNCP is a model of grace in the spotlight on this day.

She has a lot of new friends in the Town of Pembroke, who were more than happy to smile and to be photographed with the 2004-05 Miss UNCP.


At 1st Bank - From left: Amanda Strickland, Maleria Dellamay, Miss UNCP, Lucille Locklear (Branch Manager), Angela Chavis and Bobbie Hall.


At Linda's Restaurant - From left: A.C. Locklear, Charlotte Scott, Ricky Jacobs, Miss UNCP, Jule Clark and Deborah Shepphard.


At Linda's - With Delton Ray Locklear
(UNCP Class of 1954)


Parking lot - From left: Stacey Locklear (Class of 1962), Miss UNCP and Howard Brooks (Class of 1963)


At Lumbee Guarenty Bank - From left: Tom Gibson, Theresa Locklear, Miss UNCP and Jarett Sampson (UNCP Class of 2000)


At Sheff's Restaurant - From left: Rose Hunt, Rachel Cummings, Terica Lowry, Kim Sampson, Channing Jones (Class of 1999) Miss UNCP, Kyle Malcolm and Brian Brayboy