Senior broadcast journalism major Ashley Melnick and senior business major Jordan Johannsen shared the stage on the final night of the 75th Miss Texas pageant celebration, held at the University of Texas at Arlington.
Melnick said being one of the last two on stage with Johannsen was a “neat” experience.
“I knew at that point, regardless of what happened, we were proud of each other, and we loved each other,” Melnick said. “The last thing I told Jordan was that I knew this was going to happen because we had prepared together and pretty much motivated each other for the whole year.”
Melnick said she participated in the Miss Texas Pageant three times prior to winning it.
According to the Miss Texas website, a participant can compete in the national Miss America pageant only once. However, participants can is allowed to compete at the local and state level multiple times.
Before her senior year of high school, Melnick had never competed in pageants, she said.
“I had auditioned for American Idol and they stopped me in the middle of my song and asked if I had ever participated in pageants before,” she said. “They said I was too much like a pageant [contestant].”
As Miss Texas, Melnick said she will make appearances in Texas schools promoting her platform, The Voice of Autism. Her choice of philanthropy was partially because her brother has autism, she said.
“I will be in the schools talking about hot topic issues, especially when October hits,” Melnick said.
Aside from her platform, Melnick said she will speak about drugs and alcohol during the school visits.
Speaking events like those will prepare her for the Miss America Pageant in Las Vegas on Jan. 15, she said. Melnick will compete for the title of the Miss America in the competition’s 90th anniversary year.
In September she will begin intense physical fitness training and work on her mock interview.
“Being able to speak and experience people is really a growing process having this title,” she said. “I have seen a difference in myself; I’m more comfortable speaking and being around people.”
John Tisdale, associate director of the Schieffer School of Journalism, said he was proud of Melnick’s achievements.
“She’s a good student and a good representative of the Schieffer School, and so far, it’s nice to have someone from the Scheiffer School do that,” he said.
Melnick said she would take a year off from school and planned to graduate following year with a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism.
Johannsen said she planned to continue competing in pageants, working up to another Miss Texas competition.
Pageants helped Johannsen gain self-confidence and a best friend, she said. Her platform, the Starfish Society, helped her get involved in the community too.