RALEIGH — In the world of beauty pageants — and the accompanying stereotype of contrived glamour — authenticity is a valuable commodity, as N.C. State student Haven Cashwell well knows. As Miss Bladenboro, Cashwell recently competed in the Miss North Carolina Pageant in Raleigh and says that, though she didn’t win, she stayed true to herself.
“I would not change anything about what I did,” Cashwell said. “I was Haven the whole week.”
The week-long competition started with check-in and rehearsal on Monday, then an interview Tuesday, followed by another rehearsal. In the 10-minute private time with the judges, Cashwell was hit with any question the judges wanted to throw at her.
“I feel like I did well with the interview,” Cashwell explained. “The questions were challenging, but I went in expecting that, and tried to prepare as much as possible. The whole time, I just tried to be myself.”
Wednesday night brought the first preliminaries — the talent portion — in which Cashwell sang a Lady Antebellum song, As You Turn Away. On Thursday, some much-needed family time in the form of a brunch helped relieve some of the stress of the week, but then it was back to rehearsals and the evening gown and on-stage question competitions.
“I don’t even remember what they asked me, because I was so in the moment, but it was something about my platform,” Cashwell said, laughing.
Each competitor was required to fashion a charitable effort, for which Cashwell initiated “think b4 u send,” an attempt to educate people, teenagers particularly, about cyberspace safety. Cashwell designed silicone wristbands that she handed out to peers in the hopes of getting them to think about potential consequences before sending texts and photos.
“It’s really grown to so much more than I ever thought,” Cashwell said.
Friday, which Cashwell described as a “fun day,” included a 2:30 a.m. wake-up to be spray painted, brunch and the swimsuit competition.
For Cashwell, the social aspect of the week was the highlight, however.
“It’s crazy to think that I built 40 new relationships in one week,” she said, “Being on the eastern side of the state, we don’t see the girls from Charlotte or Asheville, for instance, so it was nice to finally meet everyone, and we still communicate frequently.”
She added, “I didn’t know my roommate going in, but we left as best friends. I can’t wait to see her again.”
Though she’s not walking away with the crown, Cashwell’s not leaving empty-handed.
“Throughout the whole experience — not just the Miss North Carolina week — I definitely gained time management skills,” she said. “In high school, I didn’t have to worry about anything, just going to school and coming back. Now that I’m in college, I’m really having to budget out my schedule and learn to make time, and this competition definitely helped with that.”
Cashwell said that she plans to continue her education at N.C. State with the scholarship money provided through the pageants and, as for future pageants — “Who knows? I’m not sure if I’ll do another prelim,” Cashwell said. “We’ll see.”
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.