Even with no Miss N.C. pageant, Gaston’s representatives still win scholarships
Even though this year’s Miss North Carolina pageant was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, Gaston’s three representatives still managed to win more than $11,000 in scholarships.
Recently, the Miss North Carolina organization awarded a total of $40,500 in benefactor scholarships to the young women in the pageant’s Class of 2020. Miss Gaston County Mariana Linares received $1,000, Miss Mount Holly Anne Marie Hagerty earned $3,000, and Miss Gastonia Julia DeSerio tallied $7,800 – the most scholarship money of any contestant.
“We are extremely proud to see our Miss Gastonia, Miss Gaston County, and Miss Mount Holly share a total of $11,800 in scholarships – that is more than one-fourth of the money available,” said Delores Cox, the local pageant’s executive director. “It has been a challenging year for our representatives because of the pandemic, but they have worked hard to make the best of our current circumstances and find ways to promote their community service programs and represent their community.”
Hagerty received the Jennifer Vaden Barth Innovation Scholarship valued at $1,000 and the North Carolina Community Service Impact Scholarship valued at $2,000. Linares received the North Carolina Electric Cooperatives STEM Scholarship valued at $1,000.
DeSerio was the big winner, claiming five scholarships: Eric Ennis Endowed Music Scholarship valued at $3,000, North Carolina Community Service Impact Scholarship valued at $2,000, Sunday Allen Teaching Scholarship valued at $1,500, Ward Black Law World Changer Scholarship valued at $1,000, and Quality of Life Scholarship - First Runner-Up Award valued at $300.
“I will use the money to help pay for my college degree from Gardner-Webb University,” said DeSerio, who is the chorus teacher at Crest Middle School in Shelby. “It is a blessing to receive five scholarships from the Miss North Carolina organization. I was hoping to win at least one, but I never imagined winning five of them. It came as a surprise. Receiving the scholarship money has made a significant difference in my life.”
Hagerty said, “I appreciate the willingness of the scholarship benefactors to award scholarships this year to the young women who will compete for Miss North Carolina. We were disappointed when the state competition had to be canceled so it was great to learn that scholarships would be presented anyway. It shows the state organization’s commitment to providing scholarships, which is the foundation of our program.”
Linares said, “I would like to thank the Miss North Carolina committee and the North Carolina Electric Cooperatives for making scholarship money available. To win the STEM scholarship is an honor, and I am grateful for the state pageant’s efforts to provide scholarship opportunities this year. The scholarship recognition has been a positive for us in a year that has had its share of negatives because of the pandemic.”
The scholarship winners were announced during a live presentation on the Miss North Carolina Facebook page on November 11. A total of 31 scholarships were awarded, and most of them were associated with a particular field or area such as academics, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), education, music and the fine arts, community service, business, and healthcare. Contestants were given the opportunity to apply for the various scholarships.
Like most things, it has not been a normal year for pageantry. DeSerio and Linares were crowned last November, and Hagerty was crowned in February. They were supposed to compete for Miss North Carolina in June. But the coronavirus pandemic hit, and the state pageant had to be postponed. It was rescheduled for late July, but eventually canceled. That left 36 young women who had hopes of competing for the title of Miss North Carolina 2020 in a quandary.
After the Miss America pageant was canceled, local contestants were given the option to hold on to their title and compete at the state level next year. DeSerio, Linares, and Hagerty have committed to continuing their reign through the 2021 Miss North Carolina event, which is scheduled now for the week of June 21.
Like DeSerio, Linares, and Hagerty, Gaston’s three local teen pageant winners will extend their reign for another year. Miss Gastonia’s Outstanding Teen Keelie Jones, Miss Gaston County’s Outstanding Teen Lexi Foy, and Miss Mount Holly’s Outstanding Teen Micah Eustache will continue their year of service leading up to the Miss North Carolina’s Outstanding Teen competition next summer.
For now, the plan is to crown a new Miss Gastonia, Miss Gaston County, and Miss Mount Holly next November along with three new Outstanding Teen representatives. For more information, visit www.missgastoniapageant.com or “like” the Miss Gastonia Organization on Facebook.
This article appeared in the December 3, 2020 edition of the Belmont Banner-News.