Miss Essence Scholarship Pageant celebrates beauty, talent, community engagement

Published 4:07 pm Thursday, April 4, 2024

By Haley Mitchell Godwin

The fifth annual Miss Essence Scholarship Pageant took center stage at the Highland Home High School auditorium March 23. The event, organized by 2008 Miss Essence and current chairperson DeAnza Sheridan along with other dedicated community members, saw an impressive display of community support, resulting in scholarships totaling over $2,000.00 awarded to deserving participants.

The Miss Essence Scholarship Foundation, spearheaded by Sheridan and supported by numerous community members, has strived to make each year’s pageant more successful than the last.

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“I want to give a huge thanks to anyone that contributed in any way to this year’s pageant,” Sheridan said. “We set record highs this year with registrants and with money raised. The Miss Essence Scholarship Foundation strives to have a bigger and better pageant every year and we can’t do that without the massive amount of support we continue to receive.”

Sheridan said she would also like to thank the following committee members, who she explained have been extremely dedicated since day one: Adrian Daniels, Maretta Stroud, Nitika Matthews, Payton McGhee, Telesha Daniels, Kiyana Holley and Rasheeda Pimienta.

The highlight of the evening was the Miss Essence division, where young women not only showcased their poise and elegance but also demonstrated their intellect by responding to onstage questions, which factored into their final scores.

Earning the coveted title of Miss Essence 2024 was Kenya Brenae Clayton, who received a $1,000 scholarship to support her college education. Clayton, inspired by her experiences in the Crenshaw County Schools HOSA program, aspires to become a registered nurse.
Clayton expressed gratitude for the opportunity provided by the pageant.

“Having the opportunity to be a part of the Miss Essence Pageant for four years has been the most fun experience,” Clayton said. “I participated because I have always enjoyed pageants. I never thought I would come out with two Titles, Teen Miss and Miss, winning the big crown this year. The scholarship will help in so many ways to further my education. College is expensive and to have the opportunity to make it less costly makes me truly so thankful. This scholarship pageant has taught me life lessons as well along with helping me grow my public speaking skills, perfect my pageant walk and compete while still knowing the true heart behind it all.”

In addition to Clayton’s achievement of being crowned winner, she, along with Kendra Juarez and Syloria James were also recognized with $100 book scholarships for their past participation in the pageant, highlighting the commitment to supporting the educational endeavors of all participants.

The pageant also awarded scholarships to the first and second runners-up in the Miss Essence division, with the first runner-up receiving a $500 scholarship and the second runner-up receiving a $300 scholarship. The People’s Choice award, bestowed upon the contestants in each division who raised the most money, painted a clear picture of the community’s engagement and support of the event.