HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, KY (FOX19) - Northern Kentucky University students Sara Cox, Christin Stoops and Marissa Raisor will compete in the Miss Kentucky USA pageant for the chance to become Miss USA.
Each woman who applies for the Miss Kentucky USA pageant, including this trio, is interviewed by a selection panel. Those chosen as contestants attend an orientation session and are asked to participate in charity events leading up to the pageant.
Cox, a 21-year-old Alexandria resident, entered the pageant with the mission of increasing public awareness of post traumatic stress disorder, one of the factors that led to the death of her father. If she wins, she'll have the ideal platform to advocate for people like her father.
"My father committed suicide when I was eight years old," Cox said. "He proudly served in the army and fought over in the Vietnam War. He suffered from severe depression, post traumatic stress disorder and alcoholism. Suffering from the three at the same time is what led him to commit suicide."
Cox recently completed her fourth semester at NKU as a pre-dentistry major and she is waiting to be accepted in a dental hygienist program. She was runner-up in four previous pageants, including the 2011 Miss Kentucky Wool Festival.
"When I enter a pageant, my first intentions are not to walk away with the title, but to gain friendships, confidence and the tools and practice to help me in the future," said Cox.
Cox recalls meeting Stoops and Raisor in the days following the selection process. "I met both Christin and Marissa recently at our pageant orientation," said Cox. "They are both beautiful and sweet girls, and I look forward to seeing them again at our pageant."
Stoops, a 20-year-old Carrollton native, is an education major and plans to teach social studies at the high school level. She was named 2010 Miss Carroll County Fair and placed among the top 15 in the 2009 Miss Kentucky Teen USA pageant.
"I grew up watching both the Miss USA and Miss America pageants, and it would be a honor to hold either title, but Miss USA is more my style," Stoops said. "Miss USA focuses more on glamour, fashion and work with our servicemen and women, each of which I am very interested in."
Raisor, of Shelbyville, is a 20-year-old marketing major at NKU. In 2006, she won the Miss Teen Shelby County Fair crown and went on to place second in the Miss Kentucky Teen Fair pageant. A former high school basketball player and distance runner, she hopes to work in the marketing department for ESPN.
"The experience and knowledge I gain from competing in pageants is what compels me to continue," Raisor said. "I learn many skills that I will be able to keep with me and utilize in my professional career, as well as the importance of confidence."
At the pageant, judges will score each contestant in three phases of competition - interview, evening wear and swimsuit - with the winner advancing to the nationally televised Miss USA competition.
The Miss Kentucky USA pageant will be held on Jan. 21 & 22 in Bowling Green, KY.