As consolations prizes go, $16,000 isn’t bad.
That’s the amount of scholarship money won by North Little Rock’s Laura Leigh Turner in last Saturday’s Miss Arkansas Pageant.
Turner was 1st runner-up in the pageant that was won by Claudia Raffo. Turner is the daughter of Jenny Gosser Turner and Tab Turner of North Little Rock and will be a senior at Oklahoma City University this Fall.
“It was just a matter of time before I entered,” Turner said of the Miss Arkansas pageant. “I was the 2012 Miss Outstanding Teen and I always knew I wanted to but I also wanted to focus on school.”
As 1st runner-up Turner received a $10,000 scholarship that sponsored by Dr. Rhys Branman.
Other notable scholarships received were:
* Bill Tarkington Overall Evening Gown - $2,500 scholarship given by Sharon and Johnny Bale
* The Savannah Skidmore Overall Alpha Swimsuit Award, in the amount of $1,000 and provided by Kim & Jerry Skidmore
* The Savvy Shields Overall Alpha Evening Gown Award, in the amount of $1,000 and provided by the Miss America Homecoming Celebration
Turner got to Miss Arkansas by winning the title of Diamond Lakes last November.
“I felt ready,” she said, “and I chose what preliminary to do.”
After winning her way, Turner began intensive preparations to get ready.
“There’s a lot that goes into that,” she said. “And for my talent, I wanted to do musical theater, but that’s kind of a niche, and you only have 90 seconds, so you have to practice and there’s a lot of preparation, I just wanted to get it right.”
Turner was the only contestant to sing and tap dance in the talent portion of the pageant.
She said the training she got at North Little Rock High School was key to getting her to Miss Arkansas.
“If it wasn’t for the musical theater program at North Little Rock,” Turner said. “I never would have gone into musical theater and they, teachers like Christen Pitts and Mike Noland, they took such an interest into my talents from a very young age.
“They supported me the entire way.”
And speaking of support, Turner also noted the large contingent of people who went to the pageant at the Robinson Center to cheer her on, which also caught the attention of the judges.
“That was something they asked me about,” she said with a laugh. “When my sister competed [in Miss Arkansas] it was in Hot Springs and to have to it in Little Rock, and at the Robison Center, one of the places I danced when I was young, was really special.”
Just 21, Turner is already eyeing the future and when asked if she would be back in Miss Arkansas, she said, “I for sure want to compete again.”
Besides Raffo and Turner, Miss Arkansas had 13 other finalists.
2nd runner-up (receiving a $8,000 scholarship sponsored by the Former Miss Arkansas Association): Northwest Arkansas Darynne Dahlem
3rd runner up (receiving a $6,000 scholarship sponsored by Miss Arkansas Scholarship Foundation): White River Gracie Stover
4th runner-up: (receiving at $5,000 scholarship sponsored by Don and Robin Houseworth): Natural State Kelsey Stone
The five semi-finalists were (each receiving a $3,000 scholarship sponsored by Miss Arkansas Scholarship Foundation) – finishing 6-10 and listed in random order:
* Arkansas Valley Mady Rottinghaus
* River Delta Ellie Stafford
* Southwest Arkansas Julie Williams
* Greater Little Rock Jessica Miller
* Greater Jacksonville Brooke Cornelius
Also announced were those finishing 11-15 in random order (each receiving a $1,500 scholarship sponsored by the Miss Arkansas Pageant)
* Northeast Arkansas Ashley Ehrhart
* Greater Hot Springs Tiffany Lee
* Texarkana Twin Rivers Kyla Soden
* Lights of the Delta Alexis Ungerank
* Metro Bethany Kasper