Oswalt Values Miss Arkansas Friendships

By Thursday morning of pageant week, adrenaline is a valued resource for each of the 44 women competing for the Miss Arkansas crown.

Madison Oswalt of Harrison, Miss Arkansas Tech University 2018, had already been through the rigors of preliminary competition in on-stage question, evening gown and talent when she paused to reflect on all that has happened and all that is still to come.

“I feel like this week has gone amazing,” said Oswalt on Thursday. “I’ve done my best in every phase of competition. Consistency is so important at Miss Arkansas, and I’ve given it my best in all that I’ve done. I can only pray that my best will be just fine.”

Oswalt qualified for Miss Arkansas 2018 by winning the 63rd annual Miss Arkansas Tech University Scholarship Pageant on Feb. 16.

Daughter of Laurie and Ryan Oswalt, she captured the Kristen Hayes Dance Award, the Nona Dirksmeyer Memorial Award and the interview competition on her way to earning the Miss Tech crown at the age of 18.

Oswalt’s critical issue is “That’s Not Love.” Her talent at Miss Arkansas is a ballet dance to the tune of “O Fortuna.”

Now 19, Oswalt is making her second consecutive Miss Arkansas appearance. She reached the event in 2017 as Miss Ozark Mountain.

“There are definitely nerves coming in that first year,” said Oswalt. “The difference this year is that I knew what I was expecting coming into the week. There’s hardly any sleep, and you get pulled in many directions. I am more confident than I was a year ago.”

Her good feelings are bolstered by the camaraderie she feels among her fellow contestants.

“The friendships mean everything to me,” said Oswalt. “Some have a stereotypical judgment about the pageant world. When I walked into this organization, I was instantly welcomed with friendships, love and encouragement. That’s what I love to give and receive, and it’s what makes this organization special.

“My success comes from hard work and what I put into this organization,” continued Oswalt. “Everything I’ve done with my platform means so much to me. All the personal connections I’ve made and children I’ve visited with…that’s what Miss Arkansas is to me. The crown is a cherry on top, but the connections I make throughout the year are what is most important.”

Oswalt is a pre-veterinary medicine major at ATU. She is a member of the Golden Girls dance team, and she feels the support of her university through the efforts of Dr. Jim Collins, Miss Arkansas Tech University Scholarship Pageant executive director.

“The support of your executive director is so important,” said Oswalt. “I’m blessed to have Jim Collins as my director. In addition to the $8,000 in scholarships I received as Miss Tech, he has done so much work in gathering sponsorships to support me. I’ve had to pay very little because of the hard work he has done. I’m not in this alone. I couldn’t pursue this dream without my family and Jim.”

Including Oswalt, four ATU students are among those competing at Miss Arkansas this week. Payton Marshall of Belleville (Miss Sweetheart of Arkansas), Kelsey Stone of Russellville (Miss Natural State) and Rebecca Ward of Clarksville (Miss Johnson County) are also in the field.

Miss Arkansas 2018 will be crowned on Saturday, June 16, at Robinson Center Auditorium in Little Rock. The winner will advance to the 2019 Miss America Competition, which will conclude on Sept. 9, 2018, in Atlantic City, N.J.

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