For the first time in 26 years, Miss Oakwood University is from the Pacific Northwest — Kenalia Nichole Cooper, a member of the Sharon Church in Portland, Ore.
Cooper is the only girl out of a family of six, but that never stopped her from defying the odds. She comes from a large family of singers, but found her own passion in leadership and serving others. She is a 2015 graduate of Portland Adventist Academy (PAA), where she had a thriving high school career. She served as president of the multicultural awareness club, went on a mission trip where she served the poorer islands of Fiji, became the assistant director of the gospel choir and captain of the junior varsity volleyball team, earned her way on the honor roll, and became the first African American president of the PAA student body government.
Oakwood University held its annual Mr. and Miss Oakwood Pageant on April 22, 2018. The pageant seeks to identify, develop and promote leadership within the Oakwood University community among Christian college-age men and women.
This year’s theme was "Adebumi" (Royalty Has Come), focusing on making positive impacts on campus and in the community, helping to spread God’s love, and being a positive image on campus.
The criteria for judging the Oakwood pageant was multilevel:
Campus voting (15 points) — contestants campaign for a week and voting is done online;
Personal interviews (30 points) — private interviews to learn each candidate's qualities, attributes, communications skills, opinions and aspirations;
Introduction/creative expression (20 points) — contestants describe their personality and their career goals;
Talent (20 points) — contestants display their talent(s) like vocal, instrumental and drama;
Formal attire (15 points) — yes, the evening gown is the highlight of the night;
Question and answer (10 points) — an opportunity for judges to hear contestants speak extemporaneously.
With her platform ACTION (Accepting, Creativity, Together, Inspiring, Oakwoodites, Now), Cooper plans on breaking the barrier between embracing spiritual gifts and mental insecurities. Through these steps, she believes students can move past their insecurities and accept their gifts from God in hopes of developing a more inclusive campus, which can be duplicated across all of our other college campuses.
If you do not know Kenalia Cooper, get to know her. She is a blessing and a very bright spot for our future generation.