When you think of a beauty pageant, does the movie Miss Congeniality come to mind? Randolph-Macon junior Jaclyn Oakes has a passion for competing in beauty pageants, and offers insight to break down stereotypes and educate students about her experiences.
Oakes decided to compete in her first local pageant at the suggestion of a friend the summer before arriving as a freshman at Randolph-Macon.
Oakes saw competing in a pageant as an opportunity to share her passion and enthusiasm with the greater community as well as advocate for a very personal cause.
“In doing my first pageant I was able to advocate to a huge portion of people my skin protection and skin cancer advocacy campaign called Charlie’s Cure. Charlie’s Cure is named after my Uncle Charlie who passed away at 40 years old after being diagnosed with type-4 melanoma, the deadliest skin cancer,” Oakes said.
The first pageant not only enabled Oakes to share her passion about fighting melanoma, it also ended with a surprising twist. Oakes’ preparation and home YouTube stage makeup tutorials were about to pay off.
“To my huge surprise,” Oakes said, “I actually won the pageant, which had ten other girls competing. I knew this was going to be the start of something huge.”
For those who are not familiar with the pageant scoring system, Miss Virginia Local pageants (preliminaries for the Miss Virginia competition) consist of a 10-minute interview (25%), an on stage question (5%), fitness (known by some as swimsuit) (15%), talent (35%), and gown (20%). Scoring is done by a panel of 5-10 judges.
Since the first pageant, Oakes has set lofty goals for herself and participated in pageants whenever her academic schedule permits.
“This summer, I decided I wanted to set a huge goal for myself. I wanted to be able to compete in Miss Virginia,” Oakes said.
Oakes makes daily strides toward her goal with the help of friends and family, and competed in her first preliminary pageant in August.
Oakes has placed in four out of the five preliminary competitions she has participated in, an accomplishment within the highly competitive Miss Virginia Organization.
She sees every competition as an opportunity to spread awareness about Charlie’s Cure.
Oakes said she is motivated by her role models, mentors, and friends.
“My biggest role model is my Uncle Charlie, because without him I would not have the passion or drive to do pageants, or the drive to enter the medical field,” Oakes said.
“I have gained more support through pageants than I could have imagined,” she said. “I have people I have never met message me and say ‘what can we do to help? We want to see you on that Miss Virginia stage.”
Support like this has helped Oakes gain the confidence essential for performing onstage and competing in pageants.
She attributes her physical confidence during the swimsuit portion of pageants to her friend and trainer Darius Saunders. Sorority sister and friend Savannah Kaiser coached Oakes in developing and performing a solo dance routine onstage for the talent portion of the competition.
Confidence is not the only bonus Oakes has attained through pageant competition. The Miss America Organization evaluates young women based on the “four points of the crown,” which are Service, Style, Scholarship, and Success.
“I have won a top score in the interview portion in four of the pageants I have competed in,” Oakes said.
“Having these interview skills is something that will help me when I start applying for jobs in the ‘real world.’”
Oakes is set to compete in the final Miss Virginia Preliminary Pageant in Roanoke on April 17th.
“I am excited to compete regardless of the results, and even though I would love to win, I know God’s timing is much more fitting than what I think my timing should be,” Oakes said.
Oakes said she was able to begin competing because she chose a goal and put her heart into it, and urges readers to do the same.
“Anything you sent your mind to will not come without ups and downs, and believe me I have had a lot. Regardless of how low your down may seem, the joy of reaching the top will feel a million times better,” Oakes said.
In the future, Oakes hopes to use her pageant experience to impact others by spreading the message about Charlie’s Cure. She is planning to work with a local third grade class later this week in order to educate youth about melanoma, the leading type of cancer for 25-39 year olds.
“It is an honorable experience to be recognized by R-MC students for my work this far. Things like this add on to the huge list of why I love going to Randolph-Macon!” Oakes said.
“God-willing, I would love to represent our school and our student body on the Miss Virginia Stage in June!”
-May McNeil ’16, Junior Features Editor