Deal with parents leads teen to pageant title ANNAPOLIS/SOUTH COUNTY -- Davidsonville * Edgewater * Shady Side * Deale

August 30, 1993|By Deidre Nerreau McCabe | Deidre Nerreau McCabe,Staff Writer

Kia Nicole Scipio is not your typical beauty pageant contestant.

In fact, on Saturday, when she won the title of Miss Teen of America, Maryland Division, she thanked her lucky stars there was no crown, only a medallion.

"Her hair is so short she didn't think a crown would stay on," explained her mother, JoAnn Scipio.

The 16-year-old from Annapolis, who wears wire-frame glasses and has a decidedly casual appearance, said she entered the pageant, held last weekend in Hagerstown, to have fun and because there was scholarship money involved.

Kia, who starts her senior year at St. Mary's High School this week, said she is seeking scholarship money because of a deal she worked out with her parents.

"When she turned 16, she wanted a car. We told her, 'No way. You're not getting a car,' " her mother said. But after months of cajoling by Kia, they finally struck an agreement: she could have a car -- a Jeep Wrangler to be exact -- in her junior year of college if she could win enough scholarship money to cover half of her first year of school.

With that incentive, Kia decided to enter the pageant when an application arrived in the mail promoting a $1,000 scholarship for the Maryland winner.

"I never really thought I would win," she admitted afterward. "But I thought it might be a lot of fun."

After competing against 67 other teen-agers from the state, Kia said, she was surprised to hear her name called as one of the 12 finalists.

She was even more surprised when she was declared the winner of the pageant, which awards not only the scholarship to the college of her choice but a chance to compete in the national contest in Rock Island, Ill., next July. At nationals, $40,000 in scholarships and prizes is up for grabs.

"What I really want is that scholarship money," said Kia, adding that this was her first pageant and the national contest is likely to be her last.

The student council president and National Honor Society member said she thinks the pageant judges were probably attracted by her self-confidence and easy-going style. Some of the contestants had been in dozens of pageants -- one even had a "director" to coach her.

"It sounded like a lot of them had practiced all their answers," Kia said. "They were definitely trying to act sophisticated."

Kia, on the other hand, decided she would just be herself and see what happened.

"I figured, this is the way I look. If they don't like it, there's nothing I can do about it. This is the way I act, so I just acted like myself," she said.

Obviously, the judges liked it.

"She's very honest, very natural. She's Kia," said Denise Wallace, state director for the pageant. "The judges were looking for a spokesperson, an outstanding role model. Kia was very good at that."

Contestants were judged in six areas, including scholastics and personality.

The only category that even hinted of a beauty contest -- and is only 15 percent of the overall score -- is "Personality Projection and Poise," in which girls wear formal dresses and are judged on attire and grooming.

Kia stressed that the pageant wasn't a beauty contest and looked at it as a way to be judged on her many achievements, including her 3.85 GPA. "If it were a real beauty pageant, I don't think I would have walked away as Maryland division winner," she said.

Her plans include attending Spellman College in Atlanta and then law school. She would like to become a corporate lawyer, she said, because she likes to know how businesses work from the inside.

Over the next 10 months, she will make numerous state appearances on behalf of the pageant before she competes for the national title.

The delay between state pageants and the nationals allows division winners to gain experience and additional poise, organizers said.

For Kia, extra poise is not what she's after. But a chunk of that scholarship money, well, that sure would be nice.

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