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For the first time since 2008, Wilson County will be represented in the Miss North Carolina Pageant. The Miss Wilson Scholarship Pageant was resurrected last year and crowned a new Miss Wilson in January.
Jerenae Raeford, a 23-year-old graduate of East Carolina University who grew up in Fayetteville, is representing Wilson County at the Miss North Carolina Scholarship Pageant this week.
“I’m a little nervous but mostly excited more than anything,” Raeford said at a recent pageant rehearsal. “I’ve been working toward going to Miss North Carolina for the past three years and this is my first time, so I’m really excited.”
Raeford said her goal is to give the pageant her best effort.
“I want to make sure I am my best self the entire time,” Raeford said. “I’m not really worried about any one thing, but I want to walk away knowing that I was the best version of myself and didn’t let fear hold me back in any way.”
Raeford sees her strongest pageant attribute as her singing talent.
“I’ve been singing all my life and my entire family on both sides are singers and musicians and that’s what I studied in school, and that’s what I do now, so that’s what I feel most confident and comfortable in,” she said.
Raeford will perform an opera vocal during the Miss North Carolina Pageant.
Six months into her tenure as Miss Wilson, Raeford has experienced only positive feelings from the people in the community.
“It’s been incredible just having a community welcome me with open arms,” Raeford said. “And it wasn’t something I thought was going to be easy in the beginning because I’m not from here, but I do have a lot of connections here. It’s been awesome getting to go to different community events and just meeting the people from Wilson, promoting my platform and making connections.”
Raeford’s platform going into the Miss North Carolina pageant is “Beat the Curve: Raising Scoliosis Awareness.”
“This is a natural fit for me having had scoliosis and I have such a connection to it,” Raeford said. “It is a very specific platform. My ultimate goal is to play a part in reinstating scoliosis screenings in public schools.”
Scoliosis is a sideways curvature of the spine that often occurs just before puberty. The cause of most scoliosis is unknown, but early detection and treatment can lessen its effects. Raeford underwent surgery to treat her scoliosis.
Raeford is the daughter of Jeremy Wright and Ladonna McNeill, both of Fayetteville
Cassie Scott, Wilson’s Outstanding Teen 2018, a 15-year-old student at Bunn High School, is not nervous at all about her upcoming competition.
“I think I’m going to be relaxed, and I’m going to enjoy the moment,” Cassie said. “I’ve been competing in pageants since I was 3 years old, and I’ve always dreamed that I’d be on the Miss North Carolina stage one day and hopefully go on to Miss America.”
If Cassie wins in Raleigh, she will advance to compete at Miss America’s Miss Outstanding Teen competition in Orlando, Florida, in July.
Scott is running on an “Inspiring Change in Lives in My Generation” platform.
“I like to go out in my community and get the kids to volunteer,” Cassie said. “I talk to kids and tell them what I have done and tell them how much fun it will be, not only to see the person that you are helping, but to know that you helped them accomplish what they need to accomplish.”
Cassie’s favorite volunteer opportunity is working at the Kennedy Home in Kinston, where children are provided residential services while their families are crisis.
Her talent is dance; she will perform a clogging routine at the Miss North Carolina Outstanding Teen pageant. She has been dancing since age 3.
Scott is the daughter of Christy and Willie Scott of Bunn.
The Miss North Carolina Scholarship Pageant preliminaries will be held on June 19-21. Fifteen contestants will move on to the finals on June 23. ABC affiliate WTVD Channel 11 will broadcast the pageant. The 15th finalist will be a people’s choice contestant determined by online vote at http://abc11.com/missnc/.