Sharesa McCray was recently crowned Miss Claflin UNCF and will travel to Birmingham, Alabama to compete in the national Miss UNCF Pageant in early February.
“It felt great. It felt empowering,” said McCray, a junior sociology major from Conway, S.C. “I look forward to representing my University.”
Through her efforts, McCray raised more than $4,000 for the United Negro College Fund, the nation’s largest and most successful higher education assistance organization for minorities.
McCray raised the funds through a series of dinner and candy sales and donations from businesses in the Conway area. She credited the support of her mother, Lizzie, and family for their support in her successfully bid to be crowned Miss Claflin UNCF.
On Friday Jan. 21, McCray won the title while Aubrey Jackson, a sophomore mass communications from Greenville, was named first runner-up and Brittany Glover, a freshman mass communications and business major from Columbia, finished as the second runner-up. During the pageant, Jackson was also crowned Miss Claflin Pre-Alumni Council by a panel of judges.
McCray said capturing the crown proved “that hard work and perseverance will really goes a long way.”
This wasn’t the first or even the second time that McCray has worn a crown. She was Miss Sophomore at Claflin last year and was formerly the homecoming queen at Conway High School.
As Miss Claflin UNCF, McCray will represent the University at the national pageant, which will be held Feb. 2-6. In addition, she will serve as a student ambassador for the Claflin Pre-Alumni Council.
She is planning to address empowering self-esteem in African-American women during her reign. McCray is going to organize campus forums and speak to young girls at local elementary schools to tackle this issue.
“Promoting healthy self-esteem is vitally important in our society. A lack of it leads to contemporary social issues like teenage pregnancy, drug and alcohol abuse and low academic achievement,” she said.
Over the last six decades, the UNCF has raised more than $2 billion to help over 300,000 minority students attend college. The UNCF also provides operating funds and technology enhancement services for 39 Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Claflin’s affiliation with the UNCF began in 1984. Since becoming a member, the University has raised more than $1 million from its annual UNCF campaigns.
McCray is involved with several student organizations including the Pre-Alumni Council, the campus chapter of the NAACP and the Public Health Alliance. After Claflin, she plans to attend graduate school to study clinical psychology. Her dream is obtain a doctorate in psychology to ultimately own and operate a private practice.