Miss Essence Crowned
Nine contestants shone with exceptional talent, poise and personality Thursday in the Miss Essence Scholarship Pageant, showcasing the theme of Mind, Body & Spirit.
Mikka Rolle, a sophomore communication studies major of Miss., accepted the crown of Miss Essence amid tears of joy and shouts of congratulations from the audience.
“We’re all college students trying to find our way and Miss Essence is one step closer to who I’m supposed to be,” Rolle said.
Rolle also won the Most Talented award for her interpretative dance routine performed to her original poem “Dream Found.” She attributes her creativity to her artistic nature.
Rolle prefers to live life adventurously and with no regrets.
“If I had to live life over again I would not change anything,” she said. “My blessings, like my challenges, have made me the person I am today.”
Rolle hopes to take both a leadership title and more responsibility from her position as Miss Essence.
“My favorite part about participating in the pageant was all the young ladies that I got to compete against,” she said. “They don’t know it, but they brought out the best in me.”
Briuna Clark, a freshmen pre-professional biology major of North Little Rock, also shone in the Miss Essence spotlight. Clark placed as runner-up in the scholarship competition.
“Honestly, it is an honor. I did not expect to win, I just made sure that I put my best foot forward,” she said.
For her talent Clark performed an original monologue, “A Glimpse of History,” detailing the life of Daisy Bates. Bates was instrumental in the 1940s and 50s civil rights movement of desegregation in education and helped the Little Rock Nine adjust to life in Central High School.
In her Bates persona, Clark said, “I knew (desegregation) was a change in history and a miracle from God.”
Clark also co-won Miss Congeniality with her twin sister Brianna Clark, a freshman pre-professional biology major of North Little Rock.
“I feel very excited about that because we really worked really hard, and she and I just like to have fun,” Brianna said.
Briuna said winning Miss Congeniality was an honor for her, especially in sharing the title with her sister.
“We’ve continued to work with each other and learn how to communicate with one another and build our relationship with others,” Briuna said.
Freshman Gina Jones, a pre-professional biology major of Malvern, won the awards for Miss Entrepreneur for her sales for advertisements to go in the playbill and Miss Ambitious for her growth as an individual. For her talent, Jones performed a vocal rendition of “Inseparable” by Natalie Cole.
“It took me out of my comfort zone,” Jones said. “I made friends and I gained confidence from this. I feel very accomplished.”
Jones’s favorite part of the evening’s competition was the “I am Beautiful” section in which contestants were able to showcase their personal style and personalities onstage. The pageant also included a group dance number, talent competition and formal wear presentation.
Miss Essence was sponsored by the Black Student Association and the Lambda Eta chapter of Phi Beta Sigma.
“The pageant was wonderful. It was a wonderful evening,” said Jarrod Lockhart, faculty representative for the Black Student Association. “The pageant coordinators did a good job.”
Latika Johnson, a junior nursing major of Jacksonville, worked as the dance choreographer for the pageant’s opening number, “Brown Skin” by India Arie. Johnson worked with the contestants for four months before the night of the performance.
“It was a wild ride but it was worth it,” Johnson said. “The thing that was really amazing to watch was the transformation and bonding of all the contestants. You don’t see that too often with competitors.”
“The best thing (about the pageant) was the bond that we’ve created. These are girls I’ve never seen before on campus, but when we got together we just kind of clicked,” Brianna said.
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