WEAVER FEVER: Lauren Weaver -- a first-generation college graduate on her mother's side -- did not walk at her recent University of Arkansas commencement.
That's because Weaver, a 21-year-old from Greenwood who majored in marketing, was preparing to strut across a different stage.
On Monday, she'll compete as Miss Arkansas USA in the Miss USA Competition, airing live at 7 p.m. on Fox from the Hirsch Memorial Coliseum in Shreveport.
That the pageant is close to home is great for Weaver.
She says, "My family is originally from southeast Arkansas -- the Dumas/Monticello area -- so it makes it a lot easier for my grandparents to get to the competition."
She adds with a laugh, "I actually get to drive to the pageant, rather than fly, so I get to take anything I want with me" without baggage limits. She won't be forced to carry her evening gown on her lap, like she did in 2014 when she, as Miss Arkansas Teen USA, competed at Miss Teen USA in the Bahamas.
Rooting for Weaver is a titleholder from another pageant system -- her Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority "big" Miss America 2017 Savvy Shields.
Shields says, "I'm so proud of the woman she's become, and I know firsthand how hard she has worked to get to this place. I can't wait to cheer her on."
Weaver's platform is breast cancer awareness, and it's personal.
"My mom is an eight-year breast cancer survivor," she says. "Why I want to be Miss USA is to be an advocate. As Miss USA you are a national advocate for breast cancer awareness already, and so they already have that foundation for me to work off of."
And, Weaver says, there are other benefits to winning: "Miss USA, she gets to live in New York in an apartment where a Central Park view is right out her window. And you get to compete for Miss Universe."
If she doesn't win Monday, she'll still have a big day to look forward to.
She says, "The University of Arkansas is allowing me to walk in the fall, just so I can have that, because it does mean a lot to my family."
HOPPER TOPPER: Speaking of pageants Miss Arkansas 1983 Regina Hopper has a new crowning achievement.
The Miss America Organization last week appointed three women to its top positions after an email scandal led to the ouster of male leaders. Hopper, a former TV journalist and attorney, was named CEO and president.
Shields supports Hopper too, calling her "one of the most amazing and accomplished women I know. I have full confidence in her to move the Miss America Organization forward in the most positive way."
When Hopper was a 24-year-old University of Arkansas law student, she won the Miss Arkansas title on her third attempt.
For her talent that winning year, Hopper sang a rendition of "You're Gonna Hear From Me."
Hear from her, we most certainly have.
SundayMonday on 05/20/2018
Print Headline: Later, UA! Grad on to Miss USA