UNION — Makayla Thompson was crowned 2014 Miss USC Union on Saturday.
The third Miss USC Union Pageant since 1978 was produced by the University 101 class, under the instruction of Bobby Holcombe. For the third year in a row, proceeds from the pageant went toward the local Alzheimer’s Association, which has been a recipient of more than $10,000 raised by University 101 classes since fall 2011.
This year’s pageant theme “Celebrating the 1990s” showcased nine young women through on-stage interviews as well as casual wear, talent and evening gown competitions. The group’s opening number featured fun songs and dances such as “The Macarena,” “The Electric Slide,” and “Wannabe” by the Spice Girls.
The pageant’s first-place winner — Makayla Thompson — was crowned 2014 Miss USC Union by last year’s winner, Cristen Wheatley. Along with the title comes a $500 scholarship for Thompson. Kayce Edwards was named first runner-up; Shyanne Haney was named second runner-up and Miss Photogenic; and Jasmine Craig was named Miss Congeniality. Runners-up also receive scholarships from the university.
Makayla — the daughter of Rick and Cindy Thompson — graduated from Union County High School in 2012 and enrolled at USC Upstate that fall. She then transferred to USC Union in fall 2013. Saturday’s pageant was the first in which she had ever competed.
During interviews, Thompson, 19, described herself as “laid back, silly and brave.”
“I was just open and myself,” Thompson said.
She also told described her passion for college football to judges, who laughed and asked which team was her favorite. Thompson then joked, referencing South Carolina’s five straight wins over Clemson, “Does anybody wanna high-five?”
As part of her on-stage question, judges asked about the role of minorities in present-day government with a female state governor and an African-American U.S. President.
“Regardless of one’s political views, I feel that fact says a lot about our country and how far we’ve come with our political stance,” Thompson said.
Thompson said USC Union helped her realize she is a natural at one particular subject.
“I’m really good at chemistry, but I didn’t know it until I got to USC Union,” Thompson said.
Thompson explained that she feels she has had more resources to help with her studies at USC Union, such as University 101, OSP tutoring programs and more one-on-one time with professors.
“It makes everything so much easier, and it’s easier to ask questions when you know somebody on a personal level.
Thompson, a first-generation college student, is an active member of the university’s SGA as well as the USCU Players. She will take on the role of assistant stage manager for the university’s production of Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town,” which will be held April 26-27.
Thompson plans to attend USC Union for another year before transferring to pharmacy school on the Columbia campus.
Derik Vanderford can be reached at 864-427-1234, Ext. 29.