Oregon royalty crowned at MHCC event
Thirty-one young women with brains and beauty walked the stage at Mt. Hood Community College on Sunday, Oct. 8, all with one goal: to represent their state as Miss Oregon USA or Miss Oregon Teen USA in a national pageant to be held in 2018.
After three rounds of competition, two were chosen as winners. Toneata Morgan, 21, was crowned Miss Oregon USA 2018 and Jaycie Forrester, 16, was crowned Miss Oregon Teen USA 2018.
The women competed in three categories: interview, athletic wear for the teens and swimsuit for the older women, and in evening gown. Once five finalists were chosen, each answered an on-stage question.
Toneata Morgan, Miss Oregon USA 2018
Morgan is a senior at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, majoring in communication, with a minor in film and television studies; her long-range goal is to host a talk show.
Competing as Miss Sunset Bay USA, Morgan was born and raised in Coquille and has her own active-wear company called All Legs, which partners with charities to promote causes that matter to women.
After she was crowned, Morgan said she wants to make Oregon proud and that the moment was special to her because her family was there with her.
As for the year ahead, she said she wants to make appearances as Miss Oregon, get more involved with the community and support veterans.
"I am a great multi-tasker and being Miss Oregon USA is a dream of mine. I will be able to balance being Miss Oregon USA while still getting great grades in school," Morgan said.
She added, "Winning this pageant has made me realize I can do anything as long as I keep persevering."
Jaycie Forrester, Miss Oregon Teen USA
Forrester competed as Miss Teen Portland USA. She is a 4.0 student at Horizon Christian School in Tualatin, where she is involved with National Honor Society, DECA and ASB. She plans to attend college and study criminal profiling.
Forrester won two awards even before being crowned Miss Oregon Teen USA: the teen academic award and Miss Photogenic Teen, voted on by the audience.
Each contestant picked a social issue important to her, and Forrester's was helping teens develop better self-confidence.
"I grew up not having that much self-confidence and my mom helped me get better. Having good self-confidence helps you with self-esteem," Forrester said.
This was her first pageant, and she said she learned that even if you are just starting out, you can still do well.
Winning Miss Teen Oregon USA has given her more self-confidence, Forrester said, adding that she is looking forward to making appearances and getting to know new people in the year ahead.Accomplished women
Maureen Francisco, co-producer of the Miss Oregon USA pageant and executive producer of NW Productions LLC, noted that Morgan and Forrester will enter the Miss USA and Miss Teen USA pageants in 2018, and the Miss USA winner will go on to compete in the Miss Universe pageant.
She is pleased with both winners and said, "Toneata is an entrepreneur and this shows me she is willing to work hard."
She added, "As the winner of our academic award, Jaycie is a person who can juggle school and being Miss Oregon Teen USA."
This pageant focuses on "what it means to be confidently beautiful. That is the message of the Miss Universe organization; these women are comfortable in their own skin."
David Van Maren, Francisco's husband and co-producer of the pageant, said that all the contestants this year are "well educated and have done amazing things academically. Overall they have very strong goals, some in the sciences."
He added, "The great thing about what we do is introduce contestants to people working in their area of interest, so they can get internships. This allows them to follow up on their goals and dreams."
Visit missoregonusa.com to see photos of all the contestants and to learn more about the organization.