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Pageant a stepping stone for aspiring college professor

By Earl Vaughan Jr.

Recent Fayetteville State University graduate Dominique Ashley hopes participating in a beauty pageant in Atlanta will help her overcome her natural shyness and serve as a springboard to a career as a college professor.

Ashley has lived in Fayetteville since her pre-school years. She completed work on a degree in political science at Fayetteville State in December and is scheduled to compete in the national Miss Black US Ambassador Scholarship Pageant in Atlanta in July.

Ashley, who graduated from Reid Ross Classical School, attended Elizabeth City State University for three years and then came to Fayetteville State to complete her degree work. She will join state ambassadors from across the nation in the pageant.

The contestants will take part in a preliminary community service presentation and a private interview.

During the week they’ll also participate in events involving health and wellness, empowering women and engaging with the community.

Ashley learned about the competition through social media. She was chosen to represent North Carolina after submitting an application and going through a phone interview.

This will be her first beauty pageant, she said, adding that she considers herself an introvert. She said the experience so far has helped her introduce herself to people and step out of her shell.

“It’s something out of my comfort zone,” she said. “I think that will help me in the future, especially with things I want to do. I need to be a better people person, get out there and meet and greet people.”

Her ultimate goal is to become a history professor at a historically black college or university.

She has already applied for and been accepted into the master of public administration program at UNC-Pembroke. She originally planned to start in January but has decided to take some time off from school to chart her career path further.

“When I transferred from Elizabeth City State, it pushed my graduation date back,” she said. “When I was accepted into Pembroke, I felt I was rushing everything. To be a history professor, I have to get a degree in some type of history.”

She has applied for public school teaching jobs in Cumberland and Harnett counties and wants to start her career there. She hopes to begin work on her MPA in the fall, either at UNCP or N.C. State.

What happens if she hits the jackpot in the beauty pageant in July and is named the winner?

Ashley said that’s one of the good things about this particular pageant. “They understand our education comes first,” she said. “They work around your schedule.”

Ashley said all pageant obligations take place mostly on the weekend or during the evening to avoid conflicts with classes as much as possible.

“The program is awesome,” she said. “I want to see it grow, especially for North Carolina, to see a lot of ladies apply.

“I want it to be known in North Carolina and all over.”