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story.lead_photo.caption Miss Historic Batesville Claudia Raffo of Jonesboro was crowned Miss Arkansas 2018 on June 16.

— Miss Historic Batesville Claudia Raffo won the title of Miss Arkansas 2018 at the 81st Miss Arkansas Scholarship Pageant on June 16 at the Robinson Center in Little Rock.

Raffo, 22, of Jonesboro won a $30,000 scholarship provided by Ted and Shannon Boy Skokos, Citgo and the Miss Arkansas Scholarship Foundation and more than $75,000 in awards, wardrobe, transportation and gifts. She will represent Arkansas at the 2019 Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City and will make appearances across The Natural State to promote the Children’s Miracle Network, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, her personal platform of New Life Saves Life: Umbilical Cord Donation and speaking in support of the goals of the Miss Arkansas and Miss America system.

Raffo, a daughter of Paula and Tom Raffo of Jonesboro, is a student at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences School of Pharmacy in Little Rock and a 2017 graduate of Arkansas State University in Jonesboro. For her talent, she performed a jazz dance to “That’s Life.”

Miss Greater Jacksonville Brooke Cornelius, the 24-year-old daughter of Robyn and Chad Cornelius of Hope, was among the five semifinalists, finishing in the top 6-10 places and listed in random order, with each receiving a $3,000 scholarship sponsored by the Miss Arkansas Scholarship Foundation.

Cornelius also received the Sloan Roberts Overall Dance Award in the amount of $750, provided by Michelle and John Mark Roberts, and the Buddy Coleman Memorial Overall Talent Award, a $2,750 scholarship given by the Buddy Coleman Family.

A second-year law student at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law and a 2016 graduate of Henderson State University, Cornelius presented a tap dance to “Thriller” for her talent in the pageant, and her platform is Protect Our Youth: Bullying Is Not OK.

Miss Texarkana Twin Rivers Kyla Soden of Cabot, the 20-year-old daughter of Mike and Donya Soden, was among the top 11-15 contestants, which were listed in random order, with each receiving a $1,500 scholarship sponsored by the Miss Arkansas Pageant.

Soden presented an acro-lyrical routine to “I Was Here” for her talent, and her platform is Empowering Hearts: I Can, I Will. She is a junior pre-medicine/biology major at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia.

More than $195,000 in scholarships were awarded throughout the week to various contestants.


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