Miss Unique UA celebrates beauty, women with disabilities


CW / Hannah Saad

Kinsley Centers, Staff Reporter

The Miss Unique UA scholarship program, a pageant to celebrate diversity and provide opportunities for young women with disabilities in the Tuscaloosa area, will be held on Oct. 20, 2019, at 2:30 p.m. at the Ferguson Center Theater.

Katherine Beasley, a junior majoring in political science and the director of disability services for the Student Government Association (SGA), founded the Miss Unique UA scholarship program, a pageant to celebrate young women with disabilities and everything they are capable of.

“No matter your unique abilities or anything that makes you different or diverse, you are so worthy of a day that is about you and opportunities to be in the spotlight,” Beasley said.  “And that is what I am so excited for these girls, and it’s really just a celebration of young women in this area, and we just cannot wait to help give them opportunities and help give them a greater voice across campus.”

Beasley’s inspiration behind the Miss Unique UA program comes from her sister, Elizabeth, who has disabilities.  Beasley wanted to advocate for her sister and others to have the same opportunities that those without disabilities have.

“I’ve seen her told so many times what she can and can’t do, and more times than not she defied those expectations and I was like, ‘You know what? What if for once we focused on her abilities instead of her disabilities?’ and ‘What if for once she could have the same opportunities that I have had in my life?’” Beasley said.

The phases of competition the contestants will compete in include a private one-on-one interview with the judges, an onstage evening gown walk and an optional statement where the contestants have the opportunity to speak on stage about what makes them unique or what makes them feel beautiful. Throughout the day, each contestant will have a buddy paired with them to ensure they are comfortable.

“I just wanted to show our students here on campus with disabilities that we care about them and that they are seen and celebrated,” Beasley said.

The pageant scholarship program is at the end of the month, but Beasley is already working hard to make the inaugural event a success. Currently, SGA is hosting a dress drive to benefit the contestants of the pageant. They are accepting used prom/formal dresses that will be worn during the competition. The dresses can be donated at the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life and the SGA office located in the Ferguson Center from now until Oct. 18th.

Beasley hopes that this program will act as a catalyst to further empower participants to step into the spotlight.

“University of Alabama is the land of opportunity for me,” Beasley said.  “I’ve had so many opportunities, and I see that for everyone. There are so many ways to get involved, there are so many ways to help, and so I think this is just adding to the fact that University of Alabama offers so many opportunities, and I just wanted to offer one more.”

Demarcus Joiner, a junior majoring in civil engineering, is the SGA vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion. Joiner has been handling the logistics of the event, which include booking the rooms, funding and more.

“The event is to bring awareness to students with disabilities here on campus and let the girls know that we want this to be a stepping stone for girls to go to Miss UA, not just for them to participate in Miss Unique UA and stop here, but to actually have the confidence now to go to bigger things,” Joiner said.

Isabella Powell, a senior majoring in vocal performance and the reigning Miss University of Alabama, will be emceeing the event.

“I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for these women who are very capable of showing their talent and showcasing them on stage to be a part of this pageant experience,” Powell said.

Over the years Powell said she has gained multiple skills while competing in the Miss America Organization that she will carry on throughout her life. She believes the Miss Unique UA program will provide those same opportunities for contestants to gain those skills as well.

“One of the important things that it’s given me is the confidence inside of myself, the ability to speak in front of a public audience, the ability to interview in front of judges, and of course that will prepare me for further job interviews one day,” Powell said. “So I think this really is truly a once-in-a-lifetime chance for the exceptional community to also gain that experience, because I really don’t think that outside of the Miss America Organization I would have been prepared for those things going forth.”

The Miss Unique UA scholarship program presented by the SGA will be held on October 20, 2019 at 2:30 p.m. at the Ferguson Center Theater. The cost will be $5 and the proceeds will go towards scholarship funds.

To enter the scholarship program or for more information email: [email protected]