For Severna Park resident Heather Noelle Davis, the worst moment of the 1998 Miss Maryland pageant occurred when judges narrowed the pool of 22 contestants to five finalists. Four names were called, and Davis' wasn't among them.
"That was kind of nerve-racking," Davis, who competed as Miss Southern Maryland, said yesterday.
But Davis, 23, was not only the fifth finalist, she went on to win the competition and $17,250 in scholarship money during the pageant Saturday night at Maryland Theatre in Hagerstown.
Davis, who attended Severna Park High School for two years before transferring to Annapolis Area Christian School, impressed the judges by describing an anti-drug campaign she created during her senior year in high school.
Called LIFE -- Loving Instruction for Elementary -- the program combats drug use through a mentoring program that pairs high school students with elementary school pupils.
"I look forward to a year of promoting my platform," said Davis, who won the interview portion of the competition and a community service award.
Davis, who graduated with a bachelor's degree in communications from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and holds a master's degree in mass communications from Louisiana State University, plans a career in broadcast journalism and teaching. She said she will use the scholarship money to pursue a doctoral degree.
She defended the bathing suit segment of the competition, which has been attacked by critics who question why a woman's figure would qualify her for an academic scholarship. "Miss Maryland needs to be physically fit" to keep up with a grueling schedule, Davis said.
Davis will compete in the Miss America pageant in September.
She credited her parents, John and Sharon Davis, with keeping her spirits high for the contest. As Davis and other contestants rode a bus to the competition site, they spotted John Davis standing along the road, waving a sign saying "We love you, Heather, Miss Southern Maryland!"
Pub Date: 6/22/98