Mexico’s Callie Cox has been transformed by Miss Missouri program

Mexico’s Callie Cox has been  transformed by  Miss Missouri program
Callie Cox, a Mexico native, will be competing in the Miss Missouri Scholarship Competition this month. [Submitted photo]
Dave Faries

Callie Cox grew up in Mexico, surrounded in June by the pageantry of the Miss Missouri Scholarship Competition. She even served in the Show Me Little Sisters program, experiencing the event alongside contestants.

But Cox doesn't see that as an advantage as she prepares to take part June 16-19 at Missouri Military Academy as the reigning Miss Zona Rosa.

“I didn't necessarily understand all the hard work involved,” she explained. “When I first walked in, the private interview was so intimidating.”

But that was two years ago. Now Cox bubbles over with confidence. An engaging speaker with a background in theater, her presence can dominate a room. Yet she prefers to communicate rather than captivate.

The Miss Missouri candidate uses her role as Miss Zona Rosa to spread the word about People First, an advocacy network promoting inclusion and providing services for people with disabilities.

“That crown and sash can get you in the door,” Cox said. “I'm able to spread the message, and minds can always evolve.”

Cox was initially hesitant about competing for a title. But several mentors in Audrain County convinced the University of Missouri student to give it a try.

She joined a world with a stage in the spotlight and a lot of training, preparation, appearances and most of all research in the background.

After earning the Miss Zona Rosa title, Cox sat down with the program's directors to gain some insights. A vocalist, she started working with a voice coach. Candidates meet a lot of people and must be conversant on a broad range of topics.

“It has definitely been different,” she observed. “You can study, but the application of it is unique to the program. It's not like taking a test.”

The once daunting private interview may be the most challenging aspect of the competition. Candidates have 10 minutes to prove themselves to a panel of judges intent on applying pressure.

Judges can ask any relevant question, with relevance defined as anything from knowledge of current events or world history to culture, morals and more.

Through the research, the appearances and networking, Cox says she has gained refinement and critical thinking.

“I've been able to dissect why I believe what I believe and to be firm in who I am,” she said.

Cox points out that this personal transformation, the confidence in any situation, is not something candidates expect going into the competition.

“But you see this strength in this group of women,” she added. “Miss Missouri is whoever she wants to be.”

Perhaps Cox was made for the spotlight. Growing up, she took part in performances at Presser Arts Center and danced with the Janet's Dance Studio troupe.

For the talent portion of the competition, Cox will perform Nina Simone's “Feeling Good.”

Like everyone involved in Miss Missouri and the Outstanding Teen events, the wait for June 16 has been drawn out.

“I am so ready it's at the point where my wardrobe is ready to be packed,” Cox said.

And when it comes to the private interview, she added, “The judges will know it's 100 percent authentically me.”


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