U student crowned Miss Black USA 2005

The pageant included competitions in talent, interviewing, fitness wear and evening gowns.

.In early August, University junior Celi Dean won what she said will be her last crown.

The family social science student bested 23 challengers to become Miss Black USA 2005 on Aug. 7, but said she will not compete in any more pageants because she wants to focus on her education.

Dean has been competing in pageants since she was 6 years old, and was hooked when she won her first at age 8, she said.

The Miss Black USA pageant included competitions in talent, interviewing, fitness wear and evening gowns. As the victor, Dean received a $5,000 scholarship as well as opportunities to speak at events in the United States and abroad.

In the coming year, Dean said she’ll meet with the Congressional Black Caucus and speak to the Women’s Empowerment Conference in Arizona. She’ll travel to Vienna, Austria; Africa and the Bahamas, she said, having won a trip to the latter for raising the most money for the Children’s Miracle Network.

She will also meet with Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, a prospect she said makes her “nervous but excited.”

Dean’s winning platform, “Education: A Degree of Importance,” is an issue that is very important to her, she said.

She started a group approximately a year ago for high school girls from the Farview Park neighborhood in Minneapolis called “Sister to Sister” to promote the importance of going to college, she said.

General College counselor Patty Neiman said she helped Dean plan a day at the University for the group last spring.

“We brought them to campus and introduced them to the General College to plant the seeds in their minds that college could be in their futures,” Neiman said.

Dean, a former General College student who later enrolled in the College of Human Ecology, was active in the spring’s rally to keep General College open.

Neiman said she asked Dean to speak at the rally because “she represents the typical ‘GC’ student: first-generation student, low-income, very motivated.”

Dean’s mother, Kim Dean, said Celi Dean’s involvement in the rallies made her a little nervous.

“But she did it with class and spoke so well about the college,” Kim Dean said. “She might not have been able to go to the ‘U’ if it weren’t for ‘GC.’ “

Celi Dean’s teachers and associates were unanimous when it came to praising her character and ability.

Na’im Madyun, who was Dean’s psychology professor when she was in General College, said he was pleased at the publicity coming her way.

“She has an incredible story yet untold,” he said. “She has accomplished so much, so soon with a polished, professional character unseen and unheard of even in those already accomplishing great things.”

Freelance editor Anna Weggel welcomes feedback at [email protected]