The Rho Theta chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. crowned this year’s Miss Black and Gold scholarship pageant winner Oct. 26 after an evening of talent, fashion and answering controversial questions in a short amount of time.
Seven women competed, but Kari Frye edged out the competition to be crowned Miss Black and Gold. Frye is a biomedical science major from Kansas City, Kansas, who said her life goal is to conduct women’s reproductive research to help underprivileged women.
Chapter Vice President senior Tubias Johnson said Miss Black and Gold is a tradition through many chapters of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., but is relatively new to the Rho Theta chapter.
The Rho Theta chapter has four members this year who organized the event mostly on their own.
“If we dwelled on numbers rather than quality, nothing could ever be accomplished,” Johnson said. “Yes, there were challenges, stress and late nights, but instead of quitting we used this a out tools to create something beautiful and uplifting. It was dark clouds on us, but that was perfect for us.”
He said the first Miss Black and Gold pageant queen was Denise Smith, who was crowned in 1976 at the National Alpha Phi Alpha Convention in New York City.
Frye will receive a scholarship, which is fundraised for by the chapter, and move on to the next round of the competition Nov. 8-9 at the 43rd Annual Missouri District Conference in Kansas City, Missouri.
Frye said she struggled to come up with a talent for the competition, since she can’t dance, write poetry or play an instrument like the other six contestants.
“I thought, “What am I good at? What can I do?” Frye said. “So I called my mom, and she said I’m good at teaching. I said, ‘That’s not a talent,’ but I love to teach; I love science.”
Frye said she loves science because it is everywhere, but learning it is not accessible for everyone.
“Science can be a bit of an outlandish topic, especially for people of color,” Frye said.
For her talent, Frye used the metaphor of yeast breaking hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen gas, stabilized by soap, to illustrate how a supportive environment (the soap), motivation (yeast) and dedication (hydrogen peroxide) combined react to make personal growth.
“What would you do if you were great and you knew it?” Frye said. “What will you do with the science all around you?”
Contestants modeled three outfits each over the course of the evening: business wear, swimwear and evening gowns. Frye elicited the loudest cheers during the swimsuit portion, and her talent was memorable with the judges.
Judges also said she scored high during the questioning portion. Frye’s question was, “Do you feel that students of color at predominantly white institutions have any responsibility towards that community?”
“I feel that African American students have the only responsibility of educating our counterparts,” Frye said. “I feel that it is very important so that social situations do not arise as we’ve experienced this year on campus, and I also feel that it is our duty to allow them to understand that they are a part of us as well. We are not a separate entity; we are a union.”
Frye said she struggled to fit rehearsals for the pageant into her already hectic schedule.
“The biggest challenge was also taking EMT classes at night, so it would conflict with pageant practice,” Frye said. “So being able to dedicate myself to those two separate things that were still overlapping was my hardest part.”
At the end of the night, contestants shared what they learned or gained through the experience. Many said their self-confidence improved, including Frye.
“My biggest takeaway was for me to really embrace who I am and to not compare myself to other people and just to allow me to thrive in my own environment,” Frye said.