Family comes first for pageant queen

Published 5:16 pm Saturday, January 2, 2010

Family comes first for Miss Virginia Homecoming Queen Jamie Michelle Hughes.

Hughes, 18, a graduate from Nansemond Suffolk Academy, was scheduled to appear with her crown in front of a sold out audience at the 51st Annual Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tenn. but had to cancel her trip.

“All the homecoming queens representing the 50 states were going to be there, and dads are part of the ceremony,” Hughes said. “My dad couldn’t come though, and I wasn’t going to go without him. I’m sad, but my family is such a huge part of my life.”

While in California for the Miss America Homecoming Queen pageant, in which Hughes placed in the top 10, she nearly had to “rent-a-dad” during the ceremony – a near miss she did not want to happen at the Liberty Bowl.

“They had rent-a-dads for girls who were competing without their fathers. They walked you down the runway,” Hughes said. “My dad hadn’t been able to come out with me, but they surprised me, and he was there! I cried when I saw him. It was quite a treat.”

Having graduated from NSA in June, Hughes is living with her family while she attends Old Dominion University as a biology major specializing in dental. Due to her academic achievements, Hughes won the 2009 Outstanding College Freshman Award at the Miss Teen America Pageant which she attended after being crowned Miss Virginia Teen America 2009. She also won the Community Service Award and $10,000 in college scholarships at Miss Teen America.

In addition to a full class load at ODU, Hughes works at a car wash part-time and practices gymnastics, models and acts.

“When I came out of the womb, my mom already had me doing everything,” Hughes said. “I started modeling when I was 6-months-old, I danced, I did cheerleading. Being busy is something I was cultured in to. If it’s not hectic, I get kinda bored.”

A large part of her busy schedule is her modeling career. Hughes spent part of her summer in New York City modeling and recently wrapped up a photo shoot at David Segal’s mansion in Florida. She has been featured in Pageantry, Prom and Supermodel magazines and has had offers to model in Japan and Ireland. She chose to pursue her college education first.

“College has always been in my plans,” Hughes said. “You can’t depend on modeling to turn into one or try to base a career off of it.”

Hughes upcoming plans include competing in the Miss VA Perfect Teen pageant during Spring 2010.

“Competing in pageantry is so rewarding,” Hughes said. “I get to speak on a national level about my platform issue, the Lost Boys of Sudan, and raise awareness and funds for them. It’s not just a beauty pageant.”