University student crowned Miss Black and Gold 2010

Cymone Fuller won the contest Sunday night at Coffman Union.

Miss Black and Gold

Ian Larson

Miss Black and Gold

Carly Schramm

Cymone Fuller was all smiles as she accepted her glittering crown and a scholarship after being named the winner of the University of MinnesotaâÄôs seventh annual Miss Black and Gold Scholarship Pageant on Sunday night in the Great Hall of Coffman Union. âÄúItâÄôs surreal, thatâÄôs all I can say,âÄù said Fuller, a University sophomore. âÄúI just feel blessed.âÄù The competition, which was hosted by a University fraternity, was intended to recognize young local women for their academic achievements and showcase their talents. âÄúIt highlights a lot of different qualities of a college woman, like poise, self-confidence, beauty, scholastic achievement,âÄù pageant coordinator Damola Ogundipe said. Fuller received a $750 scholarship funded by the UniversityâÄôs Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. chapter through community sponsorships. In April she will also advance to the Midwest regional competition in Ohio to compete for a $1,000 scholarship. The University chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., a historically black fraternity, organized its first pageant in 2004. The pageant is a nationwide Alpha tradition that dates back to 1976. âÄú[The pageant] is an opportunity to showcase the talent and the intelligence of the women on campus,âÄù chapter president Thomas Toley said. About four months of planning go into the event every year, beginning in December with the application process, where the judges narrow down 15 to 20 applicants to five finalists who will compete in the pageant. All applicants must be unmarried women who are attending a four-year university in the Twin Cities and are maintaining at least a 2.5 GPA. Academic achievement and GPA have the biggest impact, Ogundipe said. Although this yearâÄôs finalists were all University of Minnesota students, in past years there have been students from St. Thomas and Augsburg College. Although the scholarship and chance to move on to the regional pageant was on the line, the competition was also a chance for the girls to grow closer. âÄúThereâÄôs a big bonding aspect for them,âÄù Toley said. âÄúThe women that participate really become tight-knit friends.âÄù The finalists have been working closely with pageant coaches and choreographers since late January to prepare for the big event. The five-member judging panel was made up of community members who have pageant judging experience, Ogundipe said. The girls were judged on their introduction speeches about their achievements and goals, swimwear modeling and talents, followed by their impromptu response to a question from the judges. âÄúEven though some struggled in the beginning, they got better toward the end,âÄù junior Anya Ilangaratne said. If she wins the regional pageant, Fuller will advance to the national competition scheduled July 21-25 in Phoenix, Ariz. The amount of the national scholarship is still undetermined.