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The 2014 Dr.Valree Wynn Miss Black CU contestants, from left, are Oluwakemi Olurotimi, Ciera James, Ja’lyn Yarbrough, Elizabeth Hormann, Christianah Olubajo and Cree Blevins.

New Miss Black CU will be crowned Saturday night

Six young women will take the stage Saturday night, flaunting their brains and beauty in a competition to be Cameron University's 35th Miss Black CU.
 
The winner will be chosen from a combined score of five pageant segments: private interview, ambassadorial wear, evening wear, talent and on-stage question and answer. She will succeed 2013 Miss Black CU Sonia Chukwudozie, receive roughly $2,000 in tuition waivers for each of the next six semesters and embrace an array of new responsibilities along with the title.
 
"Miss Black CU is pretty much the kickoff event for Black History Month, so February is definitely a busy month for our queen because there are a lot of events she is asked to be at," said Taylor Thompson, Miss Black CU coordinator. "Her greatest task, however, will be getting out into the community and talking about her platform."
 
Platforms this year range from targeting societal issues such as childhood hunger and human trafficking to promoting self-awareness and well-being among adolescents.
 
"The girls really did have to come up with their platforms right away," Thompson said, explaining that initial pageant meetings and rehearsals began in early October.
 
In November, she said, contestants met with several organizations at a gala to find sponsorship within the community. That served as an ideal practice round for defining and illustrating their chosen platforms.
 
"The contestants did a mini interview with each group," Thompson said. "They're expected to be knowledgeable about their selected subjects and have an idea of what their plan of attack would be if they were to win.
 
"Competing in this pageant takes a lot of work  it's basically like having another class."
 
Rehearsals were boosted from once to twice a week following Christmas break, Thompson said, for three hours at a time. In addition, each of the contestants was required to sell at least $300 worth of advertisements to take part in the competition.
 
As a former Miss Black CU herself, Thompson does not underestimate the degree of commitment required from each of the contestants.
 
"These girls are full-time students, and many of them have jobs," she said. "On top of that, they take this on and it's a huge commitment. We typically start off with about 20 applications and once we have our first meeting and talk about what is expected, it really scares a lot of people away. I think a lot of girls just want to make sure that they're really ready before they compete.

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