Pageant contestants design jewelry

Brandi Lewis crosses the stage after being crowned last year. Lewis’ predecessor will not only take home the crown, but a ring she designed herself.

Established in 1974, the Miss UNA pageant is one of the longest standing traditions at UNA, according to Cheryl Mathis, coordinator of programming in the Office of Student Engagement.

“If you go to UNA, you go to the pageant,” Mathis said.

Thanks to an outside source, the Miss UNA pageant will be funded to have better performance and quality this year, Mathis said.

The owner of Creative Jewelers in downtown Florence has decided to increase publicity by becoming a sponsor of the pageant. According to her, the jewelry store owner, Billy Hammock, is a UNA alumnus that wanted to give back to his community. 

Mathis said all 13 pageant contestants have been to Creative Jewelers to create their own custom ring. The contestant that wins gets to keep her ring.

“Creative Jewelers has created something special for the winning girl to have for years to come,” Mathis said. “It is the only business that I have heard of that lets you create a completely custom ring.”

Contestants this year are glad the pageant is partnering with local businesses.

“I am very excited to be able to work with Creative Jewelers to design a ring specifically for me and the Miss UNA scholarship program,” said Anne-Marie Hall, a senior music education major and contestant. “This is a great way for the Miss UNA organization and UNA to work with a very admirable business in the community. Hopefully, the two can work together more in the future.”

Hall competed in the Miss UNA pageant last year and continues to feel the excitement that each year brings. She sees the pageant as more than just a chance at a crown.

“The Miss UNA scholarship pageant gives each contestant the opportunity to gain experience in interview skills, poise and self-expression—and friends you might have never met otherwise,” Hall stated. “Miss UNA is a leader in the community, as well as on campus.”

Hall believes that because the Miss UNA pageant is a preliminary for the Miss Alabama pageant, it gives the winning girl a chance to represent her whole community.

“By her wearing the Miss UNA ring, she will be promoting the store, her school and her community all the way to Miss Alabama and, with luck and prayer, to Miss America.”   

Brittany Jordan, a UNA junior majoring in merchandising, agrees with Hall’s sentiment about Miss UNA being more than just a title with no purpose. This year is Jordan’s first year to compete in Miss UNA, but she has the title of Miss Black and Gold, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated pageant winner. 

“It’s not just about wearing a crown,” Jordan said. “It has purpose. It is about promoting your platform.”

Jordan wishes to raise awareness about giving blood. She is excited about the pageant as well and said that working with Creative Jewelers was an “unforgettable experience.”  

Creative Jewelers’ contributions and the usual prestige of the event are not the only reasons to be excited for the event, Mathis said. According to her, the current Miss UNA, Brandy Lewis, has taken extra care in perfecting the theme of the 2012 Miss UNA pageant, Latin Rhythm.

“I am extremely excited this year, and I really can’t wait to just have fun the week of the pageant,” Hall said. “It was really great getting to know each contestant last year, and I hope to have the same experience.”