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Daryl Hawkins judges international beauty pageant

Dean of Students Daryl Hawkins drove to Altoona, Pa., to attend the Mrs., Miss and Miss Teen Pennsylvania International Pageant.

Hawkins was not there to check out the flashy evening gowns, admire the sparkling crown or cheer on his favorite contestant during the March 23-25 event.

Eastern’s very own dean of students instead took on the role of a pageant judge for the Miss and Miss Teen portions of the Pennsylvania International Pageant.

Hawkins first learned of the pageant in the fall of 2006, when Eastern alumna Debi Swarner, who has worked for the pageant for several years, contacted him.

Due to the recent retirement of a judge, a new male judge was needed, and Swarner felt Hawkins had the knowledge and experience necessary for the job.

The Mrs., Miss and Miss Teen Pennsylvania International Pageant provides married women, teenagers and young girls an opportunity to showcase their talents and present their platforms. The winners will represent the Keystone State in July at the Miss Teen International Pageant, hosted in Chicago, Ill.

Hawkins’ stay in Altoona for the weekend included generous accommodations, such as a room in a five star hotel and complimentary meals. The pageant also arranged for someone to accompany Hawkins at all times so he would not interact with pageant contestants or their families.

Next to Hawkins at the judges’ table sat other judges, including the reigning Mrs. Ohio. Also judging was Marcy Rylan, who stars in the daytime drama Guiding Light and recently appeared in the movie Bring It On: All or Nothing.

As a first-timer in the world of pageantry and with little judging experience under his belt, Hawkins said he was unsure of what to expect.

Hawkins said that during the interviews at the pageant, “I was just as nervous as the people getting interviewed.”

Attempting to make the situation more comfortable for them both, Hawkins told one Miss Teen contestant to relax and explained that he just wanted to talk.

Hawkins said he based his judging criteria on the contestants’ presence and on how well they answered the questions. He said he especially appreciated the platforms that each of the pageant contestants represented. Hawkins said they talked about real issues, such as bullying in schools, heart disease and underage drinking.

Although Hawkins entered the pageant with little experience in or knowledge of the pageants, he believed his role as the dean of students here at Eastern benefited him while in Altoona.

For instance, he said that talking with students in his office helped him talk to the young women at the Miss and Miss Teen Pennsylvania International Pageant about what they are interested in.

When Miss Teen Amber Marlowe, Miss Pennsylvania International Yasmine Shaffie and Mrs. Pennsylvania International Deborah Wright were crowned, Hawkins said he felt good about the outcome and that he would do it again without hesitation.

With the experience he gained from the weekend, Hawkins said he now knows what it takes to win.

“I could coach now,” he said.

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