To attend the annual Miss Arkansas Tech University Scholarship Pageant and experience the performance by Dr. Jim Collins as master of ceremonies is to witness someone who enjoys and has great passion for what he is doing.
That passion was rewarded this month when Collins, professor of agriculture at Arkansas Tech, was named executive director of the year by the Miss Arkansas Pageant organization.
The Miss Tech Pageant is an official preliminary to the Miss Arkansas Pageant. It is one of 45 such preliminary pageants conducted around the state each year.
Collins was selected from among the leaders of those 45 pageants as the 2010 executive director of the year.
“It was on the Friday night of Miss Arkansas week,” said Collins of the night he received his award. “It was a total shock. I was seated around several people from Russellville and other friends, and when they announced my name they all yelled. I wasn’t half paying attention. I’m just glad I was wearing shoes. It was fun.”
Collins has served on the faculty at Arkansas Tech since 1983.
This was his 10th year as executive director of the Miss Tech Pageant. He became involved after Delta Zeta purchased the franchise.
“(The Miss Tech Pageant) was run by the Student Government Association for years,” said Collins. “That was a challenge because students come and go. Looking back at it now it must have been difficult because every year you’d have new people learning how to run it all over again.
“I take a lot of pride in it,” continued Collins. “I try to make it fun. The scholarship money is big. We’re right up there among the top preliminaries in the state in terms of scholarship money. We awarded $8,000 in scholarships at this year’s Miss Tech.”
And beyond everything else, those scholarships are what drive Collins to continually improve Miss Tech. It is a drive that dates back to a helping hand he received from a family member when he was an undergraduate student.
“One week before my sophomore year at Mississippi State, my mother died unexpectedly,” wrote Collins for the 2010 Miss Tech Pageant program. “My mother was a nurse and my father was retired — not a huge income family. My uncle, Lewis Cook, a family practitioner, sat me down one day after her funeral and told me not to worry about funding my education. He would take care of it. Wow. His only condition was, that if I ever had the opportunity, to help someone else pay for his/her college tuition.”
Colllins keeps his end of that bargain with his Uncle Lewis by selling advertisements and gaining sponsorships for the Miss Tech Pageant every year.
“I want it to keep growing, keep getting that scholarship money up,” said Collins. “Once you’re Miss Tech, you’re always Miss Tech. I’m always rooting for them to go on and do well. When girls realize the scholarship money they can earn in pageants without even winning, they want to get involved.”