Miss UCA places fourth in Miss Arkansas pageant

Carol Rolf Originally Published July 28, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated July 26, 2013 at 4:07 p.m.
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CONWAY — Hard work pays off.

That’s what Lauren Howell, 23, of Conway believes led to her placing in the Miss Arkansas Scholarship Pageant on July 20 at Summit Arena in Hot Springs.

“Last year, when I competed [as Miss South Arkansas], I placed in the Top 15,” said Howell, who competed this year as Miss University of Central Arkansas. “Being able to place in the top five this year just goes to show that all my hard work was worth it.

“I’m very excited about it,” she said of her fourth-place honor, which garnered her a $5,000 scholarship sponsored by Scott Heffington, Crye Leike Realty, Little Rock.

Howell also received a $500 scholarship as the recipient of the Ashlen Batson Espirit de Corps Award; a $1,000 scholarship as the recipient of the Houseworth Overall Evening Wear Award; and an $800 scholarship each as a preliminary award-winner in evening gown and swimsuit.

Additionally she was among the top five finalists in fundraising efforts for the Children’s Miracle Network.

Howell performed a tap dance to a medley of “Sing, Sing, Sing” and “I’ve Got Rhythm.” Her platform issue is Giving Children Hope Through a Smile.

She graduated in May with a degree in family and consumer science. With the $10,600 she received in scholarship money at this year’s pageant, Howell said, she thinks she will go back to school.

“I have $3,500 in scholarship money left over from the Miss UCA pageant that has to be used next semester,” Howell said. “I have thought about getting a business degree since I have my own business [a dance studio] or getting a master’s degree in communications.

“I think I will return to UCA next semester, take a few classes and see where it leads me. This was my third time to compete in the pageant. I have one more year of eligibility, so I plan to try again. I might enter the Miss Conway pageant, or there are a few others that I could enter.”

Howell is a 2008 graduate of Conway High School.

“I never did pageants in high school,” she said. “It wasn’t until I got to college that I became involved. A sorority I belonged to nominated me for Miss UCA because they thought I had been in pageants before, but I had not.

“Once I got into the Miss Arkansas system and found out what it’s all about, I just love it. It’s a lot more than just a beauty pageant.”

“I used to dance competitively,” Howell said. “Participating in pageants was one way for me to perform my talent after I was no longer able to dance competitively.”

The daughter of Dr. John and Debra Howell of Conway, Howell has three older brothers: Trey, 32, Dustin, 30; and Ryan, 24.

“My family is extremely supportive of me,” Howell said. “They were there every night. All of my brothers are married and have children, so I know it was hard on them to drive to Hot Springs every night.”

Howell said that between the pageants and her dance studio, The Studio by Lauren, she doesn’t have much time for hobbies. However, she does custom-paint Toms shoes.