Temple Times Online Edition
    MAY 4, 2006
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Grad student pairs beauty, brains as Miss Black Pa. USA

Photo by Ryan S. Brandenberg/University Photography
Shanay Ball, who is pursuing a master’s degree in quality assurance and regulatory affairs at the School of Pharmacy, was named Miss Black Pennsylvania USA in March. Ball’s mission in her new role is to encourage young females to pursue academic achievement and to associate beauty with intelligence.

Life is suddenly far from dull for Shanay Ball, whose tiara adds sparkle to her seemingly “ordinary” existence.

Ball, who was named Miss Black Pennsylvania USA in March, is proof of that there is more to being a beauty queen than good looks.

In addition to being beautiful, Ball also has plenty of brains to complete the package.

She attends the School of Pharmacy, pursuing a master’s degree in quality assurance and regulatory affairs. She also works full time in the medical information and communications department at McNeil Consumer and Specialty Pharmaceuticals, the makers of Tylenol.

Unlike seasoned beauty queens, Ball is relatively new to the pageant scene. It all started in 2003 when Ball was just another name on the mailing list being asked to participate in the Miss Pennsylvania competition. After weeks of consideration, she made the decision to go for the title and see what it would be like to represent the Keystone State. Since it was Ball’s first pageant experience, she wasn’t disappointed when she didn’t make it to the second round. But it did spark her interest to compete again.

Two years later, Ball stumbled across a Web site sponsored by the Miss Black USA competition. Before long, she was putting the final touches on her application and practicing her phone interviewing skills.

“I was so impressed with the organization when I found out that they are the largest source of academic scholarship for African-American women,” Ball said. “I really liked their commitment to showing that being smart is a big part of being beautiful.”

Although Ball hasn’t actually won any prizes yet, she will be competing for the national title later this year. If she wins she will receive a $5,000 scholarship to help further her education at Temple, a trip to the Bahamas and a job as the spokeswoman for a cosmetic line.

Whatever responsibilities are directed her way, Ball said she is dedicated to promoting positive role models in African-American communities, with a focus on education. As Miss Black Pennsylvania USA, her mission is to encourage young females to pursue academic achievement and to associate beauty with intelligence.

Ball said she is committed to her education and that the School of Pharmacy’s program allows her to have the time to fit everything into her busy schedule.

“The program that Temple has is unique to the pharmacy profession because it gives me the opportunity to work full time and have the ability to do the volunteer work I want to do,” Ball said. “Even with the convenience of the program I still sometimes feel a little overwhelmed, but I really want to make a difference in the Philadelphia community.”

To accomplish this, Ball is sponsoring an essay contest for elementary school girls Philadelphia — affectionately called the Miss Black Academic Diva — to promote the academic achievements of young ladies and help bridge the gap between their ideas and beauty and intelligence. She is also starting an after-school program at Central East Middle School in Philadelphia to provide a place where kids can find help with everything from homework to family issues.

“I plan to use my title [as Miss Black Pennsylvania USA] to show these kids that I truly care about their development,” Ball said. “I am devoted to getting these programs in place and keeping them running because when my reign is over, I won’t forget about the people I impacted.”

Ball still has plenty of time to make her mark on Philadelphia public schools. She will also have to find time in October to compete against 50 other delegates in a national contest for the Miss Black USA title. The event will be held in Washington, D.C., where the delegates will get to bond and share their experiences while working together to complete a number of community service projects.

- By Karen Shuey