Delta Sigma Theta

Selam Solomon (left), the First Vice President of Delta Sigma Theta, and Caroline Bailey (right), the President of the sorority pose for a photograph at their national convention celebrating the sorority's centennial year in Washington, D.C. Delta Sigma Theta was received the "Organization of the Year" award at the 13th annual SOAR awards. (photo/ Courtesy Delta Sigma Theta)

The Miss Black University of Georgia Pageant is a tradition for the Zeta Psi chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

The Miss BUGA Pageant has been around since the late 1970s, said Valarae Partee, a senior environmental engineering major from Lithonia. She said the pageant requires contestants to compete in a talent portion, model an evening gown and do an interview.

"The contestants are also required to raise at least $250 from advertisements and sponsorships," Partee said.

Kristen Robinson, a junior digital broadcast news and consumer journalism major from Stone Mountain and Miss BUGA 2012, said the pageant is more of a fundraiser.

"This is more so a fundraiser more than a beauty pageant," Robinson said. "It's about celebrating the beauty of women but also doing that community service and giving back to the community in a very creative way."

Partee said all the money the contestants raise before the pageant goes toward scholarships for girls in high school.

Selam Solomon, a senior sociology and communication studies major from Lawrenceville, said the pageant and the scholarship are in honor of the chapter's first deceased member, Kimberlee Nicole Chatmon. The scholarship was renamed after her death in 1990.

Partee said Chapman was "a stickler" for girls getting a higher education and that's the main reason why they named the scholarship after her.

Partee said the amount of scholarships the sorority gives away depends on how much the pageant made that year.

Robinson said every girl who applied for a scholarship in 2012 was able to get a scholarship. She said she raised about $1,000 when she competed.

The scholarship winners are announced the night of the pageant.

Robinson, who has competed in many pageants including Miss Georgia Teen USA, Miss Teen USA and Miss UGA, said, even though it is the Miss Black University of Georgia pageant, the pageant is open to any woman who is willing to participate, no matter her race.

"Everyone should go out and try out for this pageant because it's for such a worthy cause," Robinson said. "Moving forward, I would hope to see that more people should be trying to be in the pageant because they have so many rewards. We're doing something out of love and caring for our community so I would never want anyone to think that the pageant is segregated or for a selected group of women, it's for everyone."

Robinson said the pageant is predominantly black but she said it's not because Delta Sigma Theta would turn anyone away.

"I've never seen the chapter turn anyone away," she said. "It's just more so would a Caucasian woman want to be named Miss Black University of Georgia?"

Miss BUGA isn't the only pageant on campus. Miss UGA, Miss Black and Gold and Miss Kappa Alpha Psi are a few of the other pageants available for UGA women. Jerry Anthony, the Miss UGA Pageant director, said having a lot of pageants isn't a bad thing.

"I think, it's just me personally, that any time a woman has the opportunity, just like a man, but any time a woman has an opportunity to get up in front of her peers and demonstrate that they've got some exceptional talents and they're very smart and there are some rewards that come from it, however it's given to them, I think it's not a bad thing," Anthony said. "There's probably not enough of that."

Robinson agreed with Anthony and said pageantry has been a rewarding experience for and she feels it has helped her become more confident as a woman.

"It's a way for me to showcase my best self in front of judges and an audience and show them that I take pride in my appearance but more so pride in who I am as a woman and celebrating the things I believe in," she said. "When I stand on that stage and I talk about a platform, I try to say it with as much confidence as possible because it's my opportunity to show the world who I am and what I believe in."

Miss BUGA 2014 will be held April 18 in the Seney-Stovall Chapel at 7 p.m. Tickets will be $5 for students and $8 for non-students.

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