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franklin county times

RHS graduate crowned Miss UNA

University of North Alabama junior Madeline Cooper, of Russellville, was crowned Miss UNA 2024 at the Miss UNA program Saturday evening in Norton Auditorium on the UNA campus. She performed “Don’t Rain on My Parade” from “Funny Girl” for the talent portion of the program.

The Miss UNA program is an official preliminary for the Miss Alabama and the Miss America events. The program provides an opportunity for contestants to compete for scholarship funding and prizes.

In addition to the Miss UNA title, Cooper was recognized as the winner for the Outstanding Service Award. She will compete for the title of Miss Alabama at an event that will take place later this year. She is pursuing secondary education in the area of social science.

“I am so excited for the opportunity to go to Miss Alabama!” Cooper said. “I grew up watching Miss Alabama, my first experience being when I went as a Rising Start in 2012. To think that I will be on that stage this summer is astounding! I simply cannot wait. There is a lot of preparation to be done, but the honor of representing North Alabama makes my heart soar!”

Cooper is the 49th student to be crowned with the title, a tradition that began in 1974 when Pam Long was the first student to serve as Miss UNA. As part of this year’s event, organizers invited previous winners to attend and be recognized.

“We had the honor of announcing them to the audience as part of this year’s show,” said Becca Bush, the Miss UNA event organizer as well as assistant director of student activities. “We were so excited to welcome back these women who truly laid the foundation of the Miss UNA Scholarship Competition to develop women to be confident servant leaders in their communities.”

17 competed for the title of Miss UNA in five stages, including private interview, on-stage question, health and fitness, talent/HERstory and evening gown. In addition to Cooper, other winners included:

  • Caroline Coleman, of Lawrenceburg, Tenn., as first runner-up
  • Jada Winston, of Pelham, as second runner-up
  • Maggie Keller, of Alabaster, as third runner-up
  • Jada Winston, of Pelham, as Miss Congeniality
  • Maggie Keller, of Alabaster, and Tristin Williamson, of Opp, as the Talent winners

As Miss UNA, Cooper will receive a one-year tuition scholarship as well as a Miss UNA Custom Designed Ring, provided by Creative Jewelers in downtown Florence. Jada Winston, of Pelham, was the winner of the pair of gold earrings set with an emerald-cut amethyst for receiving the most votes for her custom ring design.

As part of the ongoing planning for this year’s event, Bush said she has had the honor of meeting with and learning from those who planned Miss UNA in its early years.

“It has been inspiring to hear the stories of how this program has positively affected the lives of so many women and resulted in them leaving college debt-free and with a skill set that has paved the way for them to be successful in their careers and communities, alike,” she said.

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