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Two PSU students claim titles

Two more PSU undergraduate students have won “beauty contests” in the Portland metro area. Shontina Gianotti has been crowned Miss City of Roses and Taryn Allen has won Miss Metro East. Both women won educational scholarships and are currently getting ready for the Miss Oregon Pageant.

Gianotti, who is studying education and planning on getting a degree in liberal studies in the fall of 2003, is a full-time student, works 25 hours a week and enjoys snowboarding.

She has been competing in pageants since the late 1990s and has won other titles like Miss Oregon American Coed (2000) and was the 3rd runner up for Miss Teen Oregon American Coed (1999).

“I compete in hopes of winning scholarships to help me pay for school. I also did it for the experience,” Gianotti said. For her title, she won a full year paid tuition at PSU and $450.

Since she was crowned on the night of March 29,2002 her life has been busy with school, getting ready for Miss Oregon (which entitles a lot of shopping), making appearances and staying in shape.

Gianotti lifts weights five or six days each week for twenty minutes and participates in a cardio-vascular kickboxing program. Being active is nothing new for her. In high school she was a cheerleader and gymnast.

Besides looking good and being able to walk with confidence in front of judges, Gianotti can sign. She has been learning ASL for four years now, “I use sign to express myself,” she said. “It is an art form and a culture.”

Taryn Allen, another PSU contest winner and senior, is majoring in Arts and Letters. She also won a scholarship for competing and winning Miss Metro East. She received a $1,000 scholarship that can be applied to any vocational school, university or college. Like Gianotti, Allen competes for the chance to earn scholarships.

Allen’s day includes school, work, being a part of her sorority Alpha Chi Omega and working out at the gym.

She also likes to perform. At the Miss Metro East contest she sang “Some Enchanted Evening,” from the musical South Pacific.

This was not Allen’s first contest. It was actually her sixth try in three years to win a title. “I was hesitant to compete again, but after seeing Katie Harmon win, I thought maybe I could do this again,” Allen said.

Allen got interested in these types of contests as a freshman. Her peer mentor, Darcy Debok, gave her the inspiration to try.

“She was so awesome,” Allen said. “I am not a beauty pageant stereotype and Debok encouraged me to try,” she said.

According to Allen, at some contests women are given $400 just for competing.

The Miss America Organization is a large donor of money for scholarships. According to the Miss America Web site, the program is non-profit and “in 2000, at the local, state and national Miss America competitions more than $40 million in cash and tuition-based scholarships were made available.”

It also stated that the program has “maintained a tradition for many decades of empowering American women to achieve their personal and professional goals, while providing a forum in which to express their opinions, talent and intelligence.”

Both women say they love their titles and are trying to get used to the added business in their lives. “Overall, it has been a wonderful experience,” Allen said.