If you are ever on a college campus where the Divine Nine is represented, an extension of the Miss Black and Gold Pageant won’t be hard to find. A national pageant system created by the brothers of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc.,the Miss Black and Gold Pageant is uniquely designed to showcase the scholarship, talent, and beauty of undergraduate women. It has been so successful in this mission that many women have launched mainstream pageant careers from their foundation in the Miss Black and Gold system.
It wasn’t just luck or timing. It wasn’t just the devoted support of her friends and family. It was all Ugwem, a young woman with filled with talent, intellect, and unmistakeable promise. This winning combination catapulted her throughout the Midwest region of the Miss Black and Gold pageant system, leaving her the last beauty in the spotlight during her crowning moment at the regional competition in 2012. Perhaps there’s just something about Ugwem. This week, 5 Questions asks the college queen what shot her undergraduate pageant career through the roof, and what advice she has for those who wish to follow in her footsteps!
1)What did you take away from competing in the Miss Black and Gold System, and what personal qualities do you think contributed to your success?  
Competing in the Miss Black and Gold System was my first experience in the world of pageantry. It is really easy to enter the system and find yourself facing your insecurities when you are being showcased. My confidence and faith in myself, my character and my intellect helped me combat many of the insecurities and challenges that arise when you find yourself on a stage with other beautiful women.
2)What sparked your interest in pageants, and are you considering another competition in your future?
Pageantry seemed like an excellent opportunity for me to address insecurities and self-doubts, particularly with the excessive skin scarring I have had since youth. It also seemed like a chance to promote several of the platforms I support including women pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics and environmental quality in developing countries. Thus, I entered my first pageant. I am definitely competing in additional pageants, and I am preparing for another this summer.
3) What was the best piece of advice someone gave you, and what advice do you have for any girls getting into pageantry?

The best piece of advice someone has given me is that you have to love yourself before you can know true happiness. I would give the same advice to ladies getting into pageantry. Whenever you find yourself among gorgeous gals and it seems like superficial things seem more important than what is inside, it’s important to already value and love yourself. Otherwise, you will find yourself getting caught up trying to find value in superficial qualities which cannot sustain true happiness. In pageantry, love and value yourself and happiness will come much easier.

4)What is your go-to beauty secret?
My best go-to beauty secret is a green tea mask and sleep! When life’s daily troubles and task add up, you can definitely see the exhaustion in my face and my demeanor. Before big events, I try to get a green tea mask on to exfoliate and rejuvenate my skin and sleep to make sure I have a stress-free smile!
5)What has to be in your pageant bag?
Aside from mascara (my favorite make-up product) I need to have a couple bottles of water! It’s one of the small things I do not always think about when packing up, but whenever I find myself running back and forth from stage in panic mode (because I’m out of bobby pins or lotion), a bottle of water definitely allows me to take me a step back, calm down and hydrate!

Quick Facts!
 Name: Ugwem I. Eneyo
 Age: 22 
 Hometown: Edwardsville, Illinois
Education: Bachelors of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, May 2012
Titles: Miss Black and Gold Tau Chapter (2011), Miss Black and Gold Illinois District (2012), Miss Black and Gold Midwestern Region (2012)
Organizations you support: National Society of Black Engineers, Operation Idot Enyin
Contact: ugwemeneyo@gmail.com

Imani Josey

Imani is a writer from Chicago, Illinois. After graduating Howard University in Washington, DC, Imani received her Masters from Northwestern University. Sometime during all of that studying, she danced professionally for the Chicago Bulls as a (Luvabulls) cheerleader, and won the titles of Miss Chicago and Miss Cook County for the Miss America Organization, as well as Miss Black Illinois USA. Read her short story “North” in the forthcoming Hidden Youth anthology, out November 2016 by Crossed Genres.

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