By Jade Ortego
Killeen Daily Herald
After three-and-a-half hours of questions and answers, wardrobe changes, and programmed and impromptu musical performances, Briana Aleman, 16, of Killeen High School, was named Miss Killeen 2010 at the annual Miss Killeen Pageant. There were seven contestants, aged 14 to 22, and seven competitions. The first runner-up was Eugenia Azo Hart, 22, who was in the Air Force and has been to Afghanistan. She plans to study psychology at the University of Texas. Hart also won the Ms. Congeniality Award and the Panel Interview Award, wherein contestants were asked a question they picked out of a box.
Aleman won the Audience Choice Award, the Formal Competition Award and the Talent Competition Award. For the talent competition, Aleman came on stage dressed as a homeless veteran in oversized fatigues and said a prayer before going to sleep. When she "awoke," she danced to "A Change Is Gonna Come" by Sam Cooke.
DeKesha Butler, 14, was second runner-up, and also won the Director's Choice Award. Third runner-up was Malika Buzaubayeva, 14, who won the Swimwear Competition Award.
The other contestants were Jasmine Williams, 18, Chelcey Leanman, 17, and DeLantra Moore-Wesley, 17, who each got trophies for participating. "The Duchess" and Raymond Goosby, aka "Jon Boi," acted as hosts. The show began at 7:41 p.m. with a prayer and a singing of the national anthem by local performer and Fort Hood soldier Jude Valentine. Valentine and Goosby performed an acoustic/rap song they wrote together while the judges tallied votes.
Whitney Thompson, a former winner of "America's Next Top Model," and model Erika Stewart served as guest judges. Mookie Durant, a barber and stylist, Margaret Young, a police captain with the Killeen Police Department, Edwin Munakea Jr., a retired command sergeant major and the president of MECA, and Ana Luisa Tapia, vice president of LULAC and correctional officer with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, served as local judges. Miss Killeen 2009 took the stage and thanked Nine Wesson, who organized the event, and Mayor Timothy Hancock for the opportunities afforded to her during her "reign." Hancock told the audience that he was proud to live in Killeen. "We are a city with diversity and no limits," he said. Young children with the Spotlight Dance Company performed throughout the event, as did "Roy D.," who sang an R&B song he wrote, and Daisy Ashford, who did a gospel rendition of "I Believe I Can Fly" by R. Kelly.
When asked what motivates her, Aleman, who plans to be a fashion designer and a model, said "the men and women in the military," because, "if they can risk their lives, then there should be nothing I can't accomplish in this life."
She said her hero was President Barack Obama, and that her most frustrating moment was her first day at Killeen High School. She said she expected to gain "self-confidence, elegance and poise" from participating in the pageant. After Aleman was crowned, she stared and waved for a moment, seemingly shocked and unsure of what to do.
"There are so many girls that are so pretty," she said. "I never thought they would have picked me."
Contact Jade Ortego at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7553. Follow her on Twitter at KDHcourts.