The title will allow Oakes to represent her family, school, and nonprofit, Charlie’s Cure, in the Miss Virginia pageant in Roanoke. She will be competing against 26 other contestants.
She said she was calmer entering the final pageant than she had been in the past.
“I knew if it was going to happen, it would, and if it was not in the cards for this year, then I would have accepted that too,” Oakes said.
She was surprised and thrilled to earn the title of Miss Southwestern Virginia. Oakes is the final contestant for the upcoming Miss Virginia pageant to be crowned.
“You can imagine my excitement that they just announced MY name,” Oakes said. “I can’t even begin to describe the emotions that ran through me in that moment.”
Oakes describes her fellow contestants as extremely supportive and excited for one another.
“One of the best parts [of being crowned Miss Southwestern Virginia] was seeing over half of my Miss Virginia Class of 2015 jump out of their seats in excitement for me. Having support like that from a group of women is truly amazing.”
Oakes mentioned in a previous spotlight that she is using her exposure and interview experience in pageants to futher a cause that she is passionate about: Charlie’s Cure, named in honor of her deceased Uncle Charlie. Oakes aims to spread awareness about skin cancer and safe sun practices.
“I am incorporating my Charlie’s Cure Campaign with the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals (CMNH) in order to raise funds for local children who need surgeries or treatment in our area,” Oakes said. “Be on the lookout for some local spirit nights for CMNH!”
The Miss Virginia pageant represents the 27 women in the Commonwealth of Virignia who have prepared to assume the role of Miss Virginia and potentially advance to the Miss America 2015 pageant. The Miss Virginia pageant requires more vigorous preparation from contestants in order to be ready for stiff competition.
“Every woman there has worked harder than ever before to prepare for Miss Virginia and to take on the tough and talented competition surrounding us all,” Oakes said.
“The interview questions will be harder, the talent will be more advanced, and the want to succeed will be higher than ever before.”
The role of Miss Virginia is not one to be taken lightly. The contestant crowned Miss Virginia is required to step away from her job or education for a year in order to fulfill her role as title holder.
As the last contestant crowned, Oakes has less time to prepare for the Miss Virginia pageant than her competitors. Between workouts with friend and personal trainer Darius Saunders, dance lessons and choreography, and interview training, she will be on an extremely tight schedule.
“I am packed for the next two months but I am excited about it. This will be a hectic and amazing experience that I am so honored to even have the opportunity to be part of,” she said.
Oakes plans to prioritize her work with Charlie’s Cure and to enjoy the process as much as possible regardless of the outcome at the Miss Virginia Pageant.
“There were plenty of times I had to reevaluate my priorities and there were times I wanted to quit, but I kept going.
It took me six different times before I actually won a titie – SIX,” Oakes said.
“If I had stopped early, I wouldn’t be here today.”
Students who wish to support Oakes in her quest for the Miss Virginia title can keep an eye out for updates on her social media sites inviting friends and family to cast a vote for the “People’s Choice Award”. Votes cost $1 and all proceeds will be donated to the Miss Virginia Organization Scholarship Fund.
The contestant with the most votes will receive a scholarship and is placed in the top 11 at the pageant.
“Push beyond your limits and know that anything is possible, because eight months ago, I never would have thought this would happen.”
-May McNeil ’16, Junior Features Editor