The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

    Close call in pageant competition

    Vionka Leal was crowned the 39th winner of the Annual Miss Black EIU 2010 pageant in the Grand Ballroom of the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union.

    Candice Collins, last year’s winner of Miss Black EIU 2009, said winning the title takes hard work and Leal handled it well.

    “She is a very hard worker and organized,” she said.

    Collins said Leal has a clear idea of what she wants and goes for it.

    “One of the most important aspects of winning the title of Miss Black EIU, is being a positive student and a great role model,” she said.

    Leal, a senior psychology major, said preparing for the pageant is a lot of work.

    “Imagine being a full-time student, working 16 hours a week, having practices five to seven hours a day and getting about five hours of sleep,” she said.

    Leal said the only way to make it to the next day is pushing yourself and seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

    “But it was all worth it,” she said.

    Leal said she did not know who would win because the other contestants were all very talented.

    After not ranking number one in any of the four categories, Leal said she did not expect to win.

    “I prayed that I would win but was not expecting it,” she said.

    Leal said after winning more people acknowledge her but she is still the same person.

    “The title is great, but it doesn’t change who I am,” she said.

    Leal said this shows that God answers prayers.

    “I was dreaming before but now I’m living my dreams,” Leal said.

    Leal said volunteering sophomore year in Miss Black EIU 2008 increased her interest after realizing the pageant was more than a beauty contest.

    “The pageant is not just based off beauty, but is based off intellect and is a good representation of a black woman compared to what is shown in the media,” she said.

    Leal said she was ready to compete in the pageant after helping behind the scenes.

    “It was my last year to do it, it was time to complete my goal,” she said.

    Growing up in Skokie, Leal said growing up here provided her with many opportunities.

    “I was involved in everything,” she said.

    Leal said during senior year of high school managing a wrestling team gave her experience to work with different types of people and help build organizational skills.

    “The experience helped with competing in the pageant,” she said.

    Janice Collins, head judge of the pageant, said the pageant was a close call but Leal scored well across the board with all of the judges.

    “She was poised, articulate, had a vision and a goal that spoke to EIU and their mission of education and young people,” Collins said.

    Collins said all of the contestants talented and beautiful.

    “It was hard to pick only one winner,” she said.

    As Miss Black EIU 2010, Leal must plan events including Miss Black EIU 2011, attend all BSU events and run for Homecoming Queen 2010.

    Zinika Livingston can be reached at 581-7942 or at [email protected].

      Close call in pageant competition

      Close call in pageant competition

      Vionka Leal was named 2010 Miss Black EIU on Feb. 27. (Courtesy photo)


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