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Atlantic City bound

Texas pageant veteran to represent D.C.

(Published August 13, 2001)

By JULIE BELLAMY

Staff Writer


Photo by Julius Tolentino/Miss D.C. Organization

Marshawn Evans waves to well-wishers after being crowned Miss District of Columbia 2001 at the conclusion of the annual pageant on July 14.

As Miss District of Columbia 2001, it is Marshawn Evansí responsibility to represent the District in the Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City, N. J., on Sept. 22. Will representing the District be a problem for the pageant winner, since she was born and raised in Texas? Not from her perspective.

"I donít think that women in D.C. are any different from women in other places," Evans said. "Being here for a year, I think I have become part of the community."

Evans, who lives in Arlington, was allowed to compete in the pageant because the only requirements are that the contestant live, work or go to school in the District.

Evans, 22, has her bases covered. She works in the District as a fellow for the National Crime Prevention Council, and while she deferred her studies for a year to participate in the Miss America pageant, she will begin school at Georgetown University Law Center in the fall of 2002.

"D.C. is a very transient city," Evans said. "And I moved here to start a new chapter in my life."

Evans, who someday hopes to become a juvenile court judge or attorney general, said that the District is a good place for her to follow her interest in crime prevention.

For the interview part of the Miss D.C. competition, Evans talked about how it is important that youth avoid what she calls the "Three Dís": Drugs, Delinquency and Destructive Decisions.

"The issue of youth violence needs to be discussed, particularly in the District, because many problems here do not get dealt with," Evans said. "Everyone should be concerned about what young people are doing."

As Miss D.C., it is her responsibility to work with national and local organizations to raise awareness about youth violence. It also makes her something of a role model. "Miss D.C. is a position of visibility, so I will try to act in a way that will make kids look up to me," she said.

Evans began her interest in crime prevention when she was in high school by founding a youth crime prevention program, called America CAN! (Americaís Children Achieving Now).

In college, she was the founding member of the National Youth Network, a project of the U.S. Justice Department Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

Evans competed in her first beauty pageant when she was 17. Since then, she competed in the Miss Texas Pageant for four consecutive years, faring well. Evans made the top 10 semifinals in 1997 and 1998, was second runner-up in 1999 and third runner-up in 2000.

A contestant from the District hasnít won the Miss America Pageant since 1944, although the District had the first Miss America when the pageant began in 1922.

Still, Evansí supporters are crossing their fingers that she brings home the national title.

Evans is used to winning. As a senior at Texas Christian University, where she graduated magna cum laude with a degree in political science and a minor in criminal justice, she was named Miss TCU homecoming queen in 2000.

For winning the Miss D.C. competition, Evans received a $4,000 scholarship. She also won the Miss America National Community Service Award, taking home $1,000.

The runner-ups were first runner-up Melissa Stamps, 24, a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison in political science and journalism; second runner-up Safiya McClinton, 20, a student at Howard University; third runner-up Mary Amanda Evans, 23, a student at Georgetown University School of Medicine; and fourth runner-up Heather Hedegus, 22, a student at Georgetown University Law Center.

Copyright 2001, The Common Denominator