This Pirate uses pageantry to promote
character education in youth groups.
Rahmeka Cox is making a difference with pageantry and her platform
Senior Rahmeka Cox is busy. She’s majoring in biology and Hispanic studies, working part time and creating a nonprofit, but she’s still managed to find time to prepare for Miss North Carolina 2016.
Cox competed in her first pageant at the age of 13. By age 14, she had won her first crown. After taking a few years break to focus on academics, she rejoined the Miss America organization while enrolled at East Carolina. Cox said she draws inspiration from ECU alumna Arlie Honeycutt who won the title of Miss North Carolina 2012.
"[Pageantry] taught me a lot about being selfless and…being a confident young woman,” said Cox, who placed in the top 10 at the Miss North Carolina Scholarship Pageant in June. “It teaches you self-confidence and how to speak publicly in front of thousands of people.”
Cox has used those skills to create a platform called “Hooked on Integrity,” where she promotes character education in youth groups. She hopes to form the Maggie McLeod Integrity Scholarship for high school students in the name of her grandmother.
“If it wasn’t for me doing a pageant I would have never thought of doing any of this,” said Cox, who used her reward money to help pay for school. “At some point, even when pageantry is over, I can have my own nonprofit organization."
Through competition, Cox said she has learned to push herself to limits she didn’t know existed. “I’m not the most athletic person so for me, winning the lifestyle and fitness award was a huge accomplishment,” said Cox. “I wanted to look my best, feel my best and get out there on that stage and show the judges that.”
When Cox is not competing on the stage, she is preparing for a career in public health where she hopes to use a foreign language. In the summer of 2014, after taking four semesters of Spanish, she studied abroad in Spain.
“It was just the best experience I ever had besides competing in Miss North Carolina,” said Cox. “I learned a lot about other cultures and how it’s important to have that cultural awareness.”
Cox has proved herself to be a leader on campus, serving as the at-large senator for SGA and vice president of professional development for the business fraternity, Alpha Kappi Psi.
Cox hopes to pursue a master’s degree in public health with a focus in epidemiology. She also plans to compete again, this time for the title of Miss North Carolina 2016.
Why did you choose ECU?
I felt like I was at home the first day I toured the campus. I came for an interview for the Williams Leadership Award Program. When I came, I was just interviewing for a scholarship, but the person who did my interview took it a step further and offered to give me a me a tour of the campus. He didn’t have to do that. He showed me where everything was and I really liked the proximity of everything because, as a Williams Scholar, you get to live in Jarvis Hall on central campus, so you get to be in the middle of everything. I really liked the feel of the school and campus, (plus) the school spirit.
What is the most rewarding thing you have gotten out of your college experience?
Being able to have a network of solid people. To be successful in the real world, of course you’ve got to be able to have talent and be willing to work hard, but you’ve also got to know the right people. I think that all the things that I’ve accumulated throughout my collegiate career have put me where I am now.
When was your first pageant?
The very first pageant I competed in was the National American Miss North Carolina Preteen pageant in Charlotte, N.C. I was 13 years old at the time of competition and placed first runner up. It was such a great experience that I decided to try again the following year as a Jr. Teen, and I won. I went to compete at Nationals later that year in Anaheim, Calif., where I competed with Miss America 2015, Kira Kazantsev. She was Miss California Jr. Teen at the time. I think that's pretty awesome to be able to say that you competed with a former Miss America.
Photography by: Cliff Hollis
Written by: Summer Tillman
College: Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences
Major: BS Biology, BA Hispanic Studies
Clubs & Organizations: Disabled American Veterans 9th District Ambassador, Alpha Kappa Psi Professional Business Fraternity, National Society of Leadership and Success, Pirate Academic Success Center (formerly the Pirate Tutoring Center), Volunteer at Vidant Medical Center, SGA Senate, Williams Leadership Program, Jarvis Leadership Program, BSU, and Signature Sounds, Miss Spivey's Corner
Hobbies & Interests: volunteering, pageantry, going to the beach, shopping, singing
Place on Campus: Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium
Hangout: Sup Dogs
Place to Eat: Sup Dogs
Musicians/bands: Janet Jackson
Movie: Anything Marvel-related
Most Influential Professor: Rosa Lopez-Cañete (Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures) and Marc Petersen (Department of English)
You Can't Live Without: My calendar
Role Model: My mother, Andrea Cox
Words to Live By: "Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one else alive that is youer than you." – Dr. Seuss
Advice for fellow students: "Live your life full of agape love, compassion, and integrity." – words from my children's book, "Hooked On Integrity," inspired by my personal platform.
"Make the most of your college experience, but no matter what, always be yourself and remain true to who you are. Never compromise your integrity for anything or anyone.
– Rahmeka Cox