Wammack wows judges, audience to claim Miss UNA crown

Miss UNA 2014 Erica Kelly crowns junior Rachel Wammack Jan. 22 in Norton Auditorium.

The 2015 Miss UNA “Winter Wonderland” scholarship pageant entertained a full house.

Erica Kelly took her final walk as Miss UNA 2014 while 15 contestants looked on in admiration, each hoping she would be next.

For junior Rachel Wammack, hopes and dreams became reality.

Wammack was crowned Miss UNA 2015 in Norton Auditorium Jan. 24.

She also won the talent portion of the competition, playing the marimba and singing a rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

“This experience would not have been as great without all the girls in the competition,” Wammack said. “They are the best group of ladies I have ever met. I will be so honored to represent them as Miss UNA and at the Miss Alabama pageant. I really can’t say enough good things about all these ladies.”

Wammack writes music and performs around the Shoals. She won the 2012 UNA MEISA Music Showcase, and performed at Lion Night last year and 2014’s Take Back the Night. She released her first album, “Pass it On” when she was a freshman in 2013, and her second, “Lavender” debuted December 2014.

She wrote the song “Angel Eyes” for her platform, Vitamin Angels. She said she hopes to travel the world with the foundation and deliver life-saving vitamins and minerals to women and children in need.

Junior Meredith Hamner was named the first runner-up for the second year.

Hamner’s platform was Motivating, Understanding and Sharing Individual Challenges (M. U. S. I. C). She supports her program by visiting schools and assisted living facilities to share the educational and healing powers of music.

Hamner said her favorite part of the pageant was the talent competition, during which she sang “Don’t Rain on My Parade” from the musical “Funny Girl.”

Sophomore Alexis Aday was named the second runner-up and winner of the Creative Jewelers Facebook ring design contest.

Aday’s platform was “Stop the Traffic” which advocates human trafficking awareness. She supports her platform by volunteering for human trafficking relief foundations and participating in Highland Baptist Church’s anti-trafficking ministry “Freedom.”

The pageant audience determined the People’s Choice Award winner by placing money in envelopes labeled with each contestant’s name.

The People’s Choice Award went to sophomore and third runner-up Jocelyn Barnes, whose envelope held $147.

Barnes’ platform was “Helping at-risk children perform at their highest ability.”

Junior Jovonne Baker claimed the title Miss Congeniality, which is given to a contestant who displays a kind, friendly attitude and behavior throughout the competition and days prior.

Baker’s platform was “My Life, My Fight, My Heart: Help the Fight Against Childhood Obesity.”

Ruby Villalobos won the University Bookstore Outstanding Service Award for her work with her platform, “Be Bold, Break the Mold.”

Villalobos also won the fitness, lifestyle and swimsuit portion of the competition.

Judges for the night’s competition were Jill Howell, Florence Police Chief Ron Tyler, Layla Hamilton, Gloria Hampton and Grover Kitchens.

Director of Student Engagement Tyler Thompson attributed the event’s success to the hard work that came before.

“This was one of the best Miss UNA programs ever,” Thompson said. “All the crew’s hard work made it possible. We also couldn’t have done it with out the contestants. I couldn’t be prouder of them.”

Miss Alabama 2014 Caitlin Brunell emceed the event.

“I would tell Rachel as she goes into this year as Miss UNA, take ownership of yourself,” Brunell said. “We all have different backgrounds. Use your story to impact others. I would encourage her to strive to impact people everywhere she goes.”

Kelly said the night was bittersweet.

“I am so excited for Rachel,” Kelly said. “I wish her the best. I know that she will be a wonderful Miss UNA.”