Mr. and Miss UCO International Crowned Last Friday
Freshman Theetso Thuku is crowned Miss UCO International at Constitution Hall in the Nigh University Center on April 14, 2017. (Elizabeth Roberts/ The Vista).
The International Student Council held their annual Mr. and Miss UCO International pageant Friday, April 14, in the Nigh University Center.
The pageant featured 13 contestants from ten different countries. The contestants competed in five different categories: private interview (conducted before the pageant and worth 30% of the final score), traditional wear, talent, evening wear and on-stage question.
The contestants used each portion of the competition to display their own unique cultures and personalities.
The pageant started with an opening ceremony featuring all contestants. They then moved to traditional wear which was weighted at 20% of the contestants’ score.
Each contestant was given the opportunity to model a traditional outfit from their native country while facts were read about their specific garment. After all the contestants had a chance to show off a traditional outfit, they moved on to talent.
The talent portion of the competition was worth 25% of the score and showcased some of UCO’s most talented international students.
Zhi Inn Cheong, a UCO junior from Malaysia, played a traditional Chinese violin known as the erhu. Victory Ogunbanwo danced to a medley of songs native to her home country, Nigeria, in a traditional outfit that she designed and sewed herself.
Many of the students chose to dance or sing songs that were representative of their native countries.
After a brief intermission, the pageant resumed with the evening wear portion. This portion was worth 20% of the contestant’s overall score and they used this time to display their gracefulness and individuality.
After evening wear, the contestants moved right into the on-stage question portion. This counted for 5% of the contestant’s score and many contestants expressed that this was the most nerve-wracking part of the competition for them.
Once all the contestants had answered a question, the scores from six different judges were calculated and the pageant wished farewell to the 2016 Mr. and Miss UCO International, Akash Patel and Ting Shi Qi. As the pair prepared to hand over their reign to the next winners of the pageant, some other awards were given out.
Zhi Inn Cheong and China native Dadi Xu were named Miss and Mr. Congeniality, which was voted on by the other contestants in the pageant.
Japp Adhikari of Nepal and Shi Zhe Ting of Malaysia won the People’s Choice Award. This award was voted on by the audience during the pageant
The pageant’s director, Joshua Linn, gave out the Director’s Choice Award which was based on hard work, attitude, and perseverance. The winners of this award were Victory Ogunbanwo and Shi Zhe Ting.
The second runners-up were, India native Anupama Kar and Shi Zhe Ting. These students received a $500 tuition waiver and an official plaque.
The first runners-up were, Linn Katrine Brusletten of Norway and Dadi Xu. They received an $800 tuition waiver and an official plaque.
Jonathan Williams, a student from India, was crowned Mr. UCO International and Theetso Thuku from Botswana was crowned Miss UCO International. They both received a $1600 tuition waiver, a sash, a crown and an official plaque.
Mr. and Miss UCO International have several responsibilities such as: attending events, spreading cultural awareness and being an ambassador for international and domestic students alike.
The 2016 winner of Mr. UCO International, Akash Patel, seemed excited to be turning over his reign to Williams.
“It’s been an incredible year promoting my culture around not just the Edmond campus, but across the state of Oklahoma. I got to travel to several schools teaching children about my culture, my country. I think passing this crown over to someone who has put in so much effort and is so well-deserving of the honor is just something incredible to watch. I’m excited to see how he promotes global citizenship on campus and I’m excited to see how he’s an ambassador of India and the world on campus.”
The UCO International Pageant is very meaningful for international students because it gives them the opportunity to display their culture in more ways than one.
Ting Shi Qi, the 2016 Miss UCO International winner, explained the significance of the UCO International Pageant: “I think what makes our pageant special is that its international. It’s very different from all the other pageants and we have people from different places all around the world. It’s very culturally diverse, and personally I think it’s the most fun because you can learn a lot while being entertained. I love that we have this pageant at UCO.”
Mr. and Miss UCO International get the opportunity to share their culture and raise awareness about the platform that they have chosen.
For Williams, this means increasing intercultural exchanges among Bronchos by working with the Broncho Buddies. Thuku plans to promote importance and awareness of mental health among international students by working with the UCO Center for Counseling and Well-Being.
Be Well by giving attention to your emotional & mental health!
— Counseling&Wellbeing (@UCO_CCWB) January 23, 2017
When asked how it felt to be crowned Mr. UCO International, Williams said, “I wasn’t expecting this because I thought I messed up in the question round, but it was all God that helped me and I’m so happy to be here.”
Thuku explained the emotional significance of the title to her. “It means I finally get to live the American dream and showcase my culture and make my mom so proud.”