When Jenna Walters won the Miss Fayetteville crown on January 20, pageant historians began scrambling at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke.
UNCP will have a record three students competing in the Miss North Carolina Pageant. Deidre Locklear is Miss UNCP and Erica Dellinger is Miss Coastal Carolina.
Chancellor Allen C. Meadors said he likes the odds of taking the state title back to Pembroke.
“UNCP is proud to have its students competing for the Miss North Carolina title,” Chancellor Meadors said. “I am confident that both Jenna Walters, Deidre Locklear and Erica Dellinger will represent themselves and the University well.”
Jenna Racine Walters is a junior accounting major from the Five Points community near Raeford, N.C. Outgoing and poised, Walters is a latecomer to the world of pageant competitions.
“I did my first pageant in 2005, and I’ve done five altogether,” she said in a recent interview. “I’m still a rookie. I never thought I would be in a pageant, but here I am holding a crown.”
Miss Fayetteville was Walters’ first title, but she was first runner-up in two other pageants. She believes her voice is her strongest talent.
“For Miss Fayetteville, I sang ‘Break it to me Gently,’ by Juice Newton,” she said. “I may be new to pageants, but I have been taking voice lessons since I was eight.”
Pageants are pressure packed, and the hardest thing for Walters is “walking in heels,” she said.
“Singing helps me deal with the pressure,” she said. “It’s my stress reliever along with working out in the gym lifting weights.”
If Walters is working on stage presence, she is very comfortable in the interview portion of the competition.
“I’m a people person, but I didn’t become that way until I started in pageants,” Walters said. “Competing in pageants has given me a confidence I never had.”
As Miss Fayetteville, Walters’ weekends are booked through March with parades, ribbon cuttings and singing engagements. Since winning the title, she has been on a break from her training routine.
“The break’s over in March,” she said. “I’ll be in the gym five days a week, mostly lifting weights.”
Walters has a wardrobe to prepare, and she will work on her platform, which is called Heartstrings.
“It stands for Helping Educate And Reach Through Songs,” she said. “I do song writing workshops, usually for 4th and 5th graders. The program targets at-risk kids to help them express themselves positively through music.
“When it works, it is really a lot of fun, and it provides a positive outlet,” she said.
Besides being a full-time student, Walters’ holds down two part-time jobs and helps out in an accounting business operated by her mother, Cheryl, a 1984 UNCP graduate.
Walters works hard at school too.
“I have a lot on my plate right now,” she said with a smile. “I have to work hard for my grades.”
For the future, Walters wants to be in the music business.
“I have written 10 songs, and I plan to record in the near future,” she said. “Performing in the Miss North Carolina Pageant is good exposure.
“I would like to sing professionally, but you have to be realistic,” she said. “I would like to get into the music industry and see if I can get a chance.”
She’ll have an opportunity in June to get on an even bigger stage at the Miss America Pageant.