Competing against six other talented women for the title of Miss Northeastern State University, Tahlequah junior Katie Bowin wasn't sure of her chances.
"I thought I had a fair shot, yet it was still unexpected," Bowin said. " I don't think anyone could be sure how the judges would vote. I cannot explain how excited I was, and still am!"
Bowin's excitement is due to the decision of the judges, who at the pageant's conclusion named her Miss NSU 2012 at the Center for the Performing Arts on Nov. 1.
As Miss NSU, Bowin received a $1,600 tuition waiver, a $500 cash scholarship and $100 in prizes.
For her platform issue, Bowin chose "Special Olympics of Oklahoma." She has volunteered for the organization since she was a student at Tahlequah High School.
"I started by doing the Polar Plunge in 2010, and that got me hooked," she said. "Now I am a member of Alpha Sigma Alpha sorority and Special Olympics is our national philanthropy. It has really impacted my heart."
During the talent competition, Bowin performed a contemporary dance to "Paradise" by Coldplay.
"I have been a dancer at Melissa's Dance Studio (in Tahlequah) for about 16 years, so it was obvious that I would use dance as my talent," Bowin said. "One of my best friends actually introduced me to the song and it stuck."
First runner-up was Poteau junior Tori Giles, who received a $1,250 waiver, $250 scholarship and $75 in prizes. Second runner-up was Heather Butler, a Checotah senior, who received a $1,000 waiver, $100 scholarship and $50 in prizes. Butler received another $100 cash scholarship for winning the overall talent competition.
As third runner-up Holly Wilkerson, a sophomore from Eureka Springs, Ark., received a $900 waiver, $50 cash scholarship and $25 in prizes. She received a further $200 in cash scholarships for winning the physical fitness competition and being named Miss Congeniality.
Bowin is a chemistry major, but may "decide to change my major to organismic biology." After graduating from NSU she will attend dental school.
At NSU, Bowin was named an Outstanding Freshmen for 2010-11. She serves as a Rookie Bridge Camp volunteer during the summers and has been named the Kappa Sigma Sweetheart for two years. Her first appearances as Miss NSU will be at the Lights On event at Seminary Hall on Dec. 3 and at the Christmas Parade of Lights in downtown Tahlequah on Dec. 14.
"The Miss NSU pageant was one of the most amazing experiences that I have had at NSU thus far," Bowin said. "Winning the title was just icing on the cake. I may be a little biased, but my supporters were the best, by far. I thank my parents, family, friends and Alpha Sigma Alpha sisters for cheering me on."