Two UAFS Students to Compete for Miss Arkansas Crown
Getting dolled up and competing in front of an audience is nothing new for two University
of Arkansas – Fort Smith students. Junior Jayson Toney, a media communications major, and senior Callie Scherrey, a nursing major, will call Little Rock home for the week of June 3-10 as they contend for the
title, and crown, of Miss Arkansas 2023.
Pageants may be a way of life for these UAFS students, but it’s their education and their commitment to the community they call home that defines both Jayson and Callie.
As the girls grew up, UAFS was part of their hometown and their lives. The pageant world may be a way for some to pursue higher education away from home, but no amount of scholarship money earned in competition could pull the two Fort Smith natives away from home.
“I’m absolutely thriving,” exclaimed Jayson. “I love it here at UAFS, and I don’t think that I could have chosen any better place to be.”
As a high school student, Jayson took concurrent classes at UAFS, but the global events of March 2020 flipped her education upside down. She admits that transitioning to online classes due to the COVID-19 pandemic was difficult. But the support she received from Megan Bowling Fudge, director of student information system initiatives at UAFS, helped smooth the transition to university.
However, Callie decided to attend UAFS from a passion outside the classroom.
“I was really involved in cheerleading,” Callie said. “I actually graduated high school early to start at UAFS and be on the cheerleading team and compete at the NCA nationals.”
At UAFS, while both competed in the Miss UAFS Pageant they made education a priority. Callie started college with an ambition to become an attorney, but that dream changed. After two years and navigating life as a student during a pandemic, she chose to pursue nursing instead. For Jayson, her education in media communications has opened the door for her to become the co-editor-in-chief of the student newspaper, the Lion’s Chronicle, and as a member of NuMedia.
But where the two believe they have made the most impact on the UAFS community has been through pageants.
“There’s a sisterhood aspect to them [pageants], but there’s also valuable interview experience I’ve been fortunate to receive because I see a lot of other women on campus who don’t have that,” said Callie.
“Pageants teach the specific skill set of interviewing and having different conversations,” echoed Jayson. “But what’s so unique is that I’m part of something special. It’s women uplifting women; it’s all the things you take away after the pageant, not the gifts, not the crown, not the sash, it’s everything you carry on through life that makes it so special.”
At the start of June, both Jayson (Miss North Central Arkansas) and Callie (Miss River Valley) will represent UAFS as contestants in the Miss Arkansas pageant in Little Rock. It’s a platform both use to help younger contestants become interested in coming to UAFS to further their education and opportunities in the pageant world. For Callie, it’s also a way to spread her involvement with the Hamilton Center for Child Advocacy in Fort Smith.
“We have over 9,000 children who are abused or neglected in Arkansas every year,” explained Callie. “It’s a lot closer to home than you think, but that’s why bringing light to it is so important. I love to help educate and help kids around the state.”
Jayson and Callie will soon take the stage to compete for the Miss Arkansas crown. The winner will go on to compete in the Miss USA competition. Before they do, hear Jayson and Callie’s story shared with Little Rock news station KATV.
In addition to pageant scholarships, Jayson Toney was a recipient of the 2022-2023 John and Mary Whitt Scholarship.
In addition to pageant scholarships, Callie Scherrey received financial assistance from the UAFS Foundation to complete her studies.