The Student News Site of Wofford College

Old Gold & Black

Old Gold & Black

Old Gold & Black

Wofford freshman hopes to bring beauty pageant, formal wear drive to campus

Photo courtesy of Promise Henry.
Promise Henry ‘25 competes in the Miss Collegiate NC/SC Pageant on Feb. 20. Henry was crowned Miss Centurion in 2020 and hopes to organize a pageant and clothing drive at Wofford.
Photo courtesy of Promise Henry. Promise Henry ‘25 competes in the Miss Collegiate NC/SC Pageant on Feb. 20. Henry was crowned Miss Centurion in 2020 and hopes to organize a pageant and clothing drive at Wofford.

On Feb. 20, 2022, Promise Henry ’25 competed in the Miss South Carolina/North Carolina Collegiate America Pageant at Converse University as Miss Wofford, the first in the college’s history. With pageant experience prior to Wofford, Henry jumped at the opportunity to represent her school and promote the cause she is most passionate about – her formal wear drive.

“The former Miss South Carolina Collegiate winner Marler Askew actually reached out to me and encouraged me to get involved and participate in the pageant,” Henry said. “She told me she had been following me and my cause since she is local and went to USC.”

While Henry ultimately did not win the pageant, – former Wofford student Ava Gracen claimed the title of Miss South Carolina Collegiate as Miss Coastal Carolina – she was able to further advance her community service that started in high school.

During her final year at local Broome High School, the Miss Centurion Pageant almost did not happen. According to Henry, she asked the pageant coordinator why the pageant was going to be canceled, and she was told that not enough girls had the dresses and money to participate.

Story continues below advertisement

“At that point, Promise drove home immediately, grabbed six of her former dresses and drove back to the school to donate them,” said Mandy McQueen, Henry’s mother and Wofford staff member. “She wanted every girl to have the opportunity to participate if they wanted to.”

This initial donation grew into a larger opportunity as Henry realized the impact she could have for years to come on the Broome community. The idea quickly grew into Formally Yours Formal Wear Drive.

After her donation, she began to reach out to friends, family and local businesses, effectively utilizing social media to help spread news about her mission. Social media and word of mouth helped her immensely, resulting in donations and attention from around the state.

“To this day, I still get phone calls from people wanting to donate dresses and formal wear to the clothing drive,” Henry said. “We helped seventy-five girls before COVID-19 hit, and even since then, have helped hundreds of girls.”

Beyond dresses for pageants, Formerly Yours has provided prom dresses, interview blouses and blazers, and even men’s formal wear for prom and interviews. The process is completely confidential, something that Henry stressed from the outset.

“Being able to look nice and get dressed up for prom and other events should never be a source of shame or embarrassment,” McQueen said.

Henry had two goals going into the Miss South Carolina Collegiate Pageant: promote the organization of an official Miss Wofford pageant and the start of a formal wear drive at Wofford like what she created at Broome.

Wofford is one of the only local schools in the Upstate who does not sponsor a beauty pageant for girls. Henry’s goal is to organize this pageant before she graduates and to attach a scholarship award to it to provide academic support and credibility to the mission.

Winners of each collegiate pageant are able to compete in their respective state collegiate pageants, and if they go on to win that, can compete in the Miss USA Collegiate Pageant with the chance to win a $10,000 scholarship.

“While there are some concerns and complaints about the nature of beauty pageants, my experience with them has been nothing but positive,” Henry said. “It is not just about looks or who is the ‘prettiest’. Pageants provide platforms for causes that young women are passionate about and provide academic and social opportunities that can be transformational.”

In addition to the pageant, Henry wants to create a formal wear drive at Wofford.

This spring, Grayson Carter ’22 and Carolina Hughes ’22 created the Recruitment Closet for girls in sororities. Sorority recruitment can be costly with the specific dresses and outfits needed for the various events, which can serve as a deterrent for many girls.

The two girls organized the closet for people to borrow and have dresses and outfits for each event without worrying about financial difficulties. Henry knew she could combine her experience with this initiative to make it permanent and expand beyond its current scope.

“If there was an award for Miss Congeniality, I believe Promise deserves it,” McQueen added. “She has a humbleness about her, and she wants everyone to have the same opportunities regardless of what they do or do not have, and that is what truly matters.”

Donate to Old Gold & Black
$0
$500
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists of Wofford College. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to Old Gold & Black
$0
$500
Contributed
Our Goal