Haven Brock, senior early childhood education major from Haskell and Miss Tech 2015, is one of six girls from Arkansas Tech who will be competing in Miss Arkansas this summer.
Brock competed for Miss Tech two times before winning in 2015. This summer Brock will compete in the Miss Arkansas pageant for the second time, as Miss Greater Little Rock.
Brock’s biggest preparations for Miss Arkansas aren’t what some people might think of when “pageant girl” comes to their mind.
Brock said she is studying up on the presidential elections, disability laws in Arkansas, autism in the news and current events in preparation for Miss Arkansas.
“Any time somebody says that pageant girls are stupid, or they don’t care about other people, instead of fighting with them and arguing with them, I show them,” she said. “I show them that they’re wrong.”
Brock’s pageant platform, the cause she has chosen to promote while holding the Miss Greater Little Rock title, is Carson’s Kids.
Carson’s Kids is an autism awareness campaign Brock founded three years ago in honor of her cousin, Carson.
“He was diagnosed with autism when he was only 3 years old,” she said. “So I focus on helping get the word out about autism for families who may need that early intervention.”
In addition to speaking to civic clubs about autism and its effects, Brock said she has gotten to talk to all kinds of kids about the importance of embracing differences and loving each other for who they really are.
Although all Tech participants will reflect Tech at Miss Arkansas, only one will fully represent the university.
Carly Copeland, sophomore elementary education major from Clarksville, and reigning Miss Tech, said her Miss Arkansas preparations began immediately after winning Miss Tech.
Copeland, like Brock, said she is keeping up with current events, learning about the Miss America organization and making sure she knows all about her platform—Mentoring Matters.
Copeland said this aspect of preparation is so important because the interview portion is one of the most heavily weighted aspects of the pageant. She said the judges can ask anything and being up-to-date on these topics will help her answer their questions.
Copeland goes to an interview coach in Conway who teaches her how to interview with excellence. She said in practice the coach quizzes her and asks her questions, then her coach stops and asks how the questions could have been answered better.
Copeland said she chose to promote mentoring because of how influential mentors have been in her life, as well as the influence that being a mentor to others has had on her.
Copeland recalled one mentoring experience in which, on a mission trip in Texas, a 9-year old girl took a special interest in her.
Copeland said they laughed together, hung out every day and talked about little things. She said she was able to share advice and perspective with her new friend and at the end of the week they had both been vastly affected by each other.
Though mentoring is her main focus, Copeland has been getting assistance with her Miss Arkansas preparations from a Tech professor to help her with other attributes.
Dr. Jim Collins, professor of horticulture, has been director of the Miss Tech pageant for 15 years. Being pageant director entails many things, including scheduling Miss Tech’s public appearances.
“There are some directors, perhaps, when their girl wins their pageant, it’s almost ‘good luck,’ you know, ‘see you at state,’” he said. “Well I’ve got Miss Tech booked at every civic club in town.”
Collins also makes sure that Miss Tech has someone beside her while she’s completing Miss Tech duties.
“I don’t like Miss Tech to go anywhere by herself,” he said. “I always accompany her.”
Collins said he’s involved in pageants because they provide scholarships for young women.
According to Tech news, more than $26,000 in gifts and scholarships was awarded during the Miss Tech pageant this year, and Collins said next year the winner of Miss Tech will receive a two-semester, $5,000 educational scholarship.
Collins said that Tech is especially generous with pageant scholarships, and the Miss America organization is the largest scholarship provider for women in the United States.
Collins said his uncle helped him pay for school, and because of this, he wants to help others any chance he gets and this organization gives him a chance to do that.