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Dance student on the road to Miss America

JACOB KONST/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Dance graduate student Andrea Hashim was crowned Miss Tucson Valley April 2, beating out nine other contestants. Hashim moves on to compete in the Miss Arizona pageant June 25 in Gilbert.
By Alexis Blue
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
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Andrea Hashim dreamed of becoming Miss America since she was a little girl, and she has just taken one step closer to making that dream a reality.

Twenty-two-year-old Hashim, a first-year dance graduate student, beat out nine competitors to be crowned Miss Tucson Valley April 2 and is gearing up for the Miss Arizona pageant in June. Miss Arizona goes on to compete for Miss America in Atlantic City.

But as Hashim prepares for the next step on her road to the crown, she wants to set the record straight about one thing - Miss America is not just a beauty pageant.

"Everyone thinks it's a beauty pageant, and I'm here to clarify that," Hashim said. "I want to stop that stigma. That's not what this organization is about. It's the biggest women's scholarship program in the United States. It's about intelligence and giving women money to go to school so they can rise up."

It's the biggest women's scholarship program in the United States. It's about women money to go to school so they can rise up. Andrea Hashim,Miss Tucson

Unlike the Miss U.S.A. and Miss Universe pageants, Miss America is more than a modeling competition, and for Hashim, it is a means of working her way through college.

Hashim won a $250 scholarship when crowned Miss Tucson, and all prize monies from pageants in the Miss America program come in the form of scholarships.

Tomas Navan, director of the Miss Tucson pageant, said the majority of the Miss Tucson contestants were either UA or Pima Community College students.

Navan said 40 percent of a contestant's score is based on a private interview with a panel of judges and 30 percent is based on talent, while evening gown, swimsuit and an onstage question are just 10 percent of the score, each.

"The stereotype of Miss America is this Barbie doll," Navan said. "The whole waving, parade-riding beauty queen is not what Miss America is anymore."

Navan said the most common complaint from critics is about the swimsuit competition but said the only reason swimsuits are part of the pageant is to satisfy television viewers, and televising the pageant is necessary to get scholarship sponsors.

"Nobody wants to watch a bunch of smart girls sitting around talking, unfortunately," Navan said.

JACOB KONST/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Andrea Hashim performs her own choreographed ballet routines for the talent portion of pageants.

Since competing in her first pageant in California at age 17, Hashim said she has gotten used to stereotypes, and although she fights against them, she continues to compete because it is what she loves.

"Who didn't want to be Miss America as a little girl, right?" Hashim asked. "A ballerina or Miss America."

For Hashim, both childhood dreams live on.

A dancer since age 7, the Bakersfield, Calif., native performs ballet for her pageant talent, and her love of the arts is the foundation of her issue-based platform, which all contestants on the Miss America track are required to have.

Hashim's platform is dance education outreach, and she plans to visit Tucson schools to promote children's involvement in dance and other fine arts.

Navan, who has worked with pageants for more than 20 years, said Hashim's passion for the arts will take her far.

"She's actually going to do something and I truly believe that, and I don't get that very often," Navan said.

The whole waving, parad

-riding beauty queen is not what Miss America is anymore. Tomas Navan,pageant director


Melissa Lowe, a dance professor and Hashim's ballet instructor, credits Hashim's success to her high energy and positive attitude.

"When you first meet her, there's a vibrancy there," Lowe said. "Her eyes are wide open and her spirit is on the tip of her tongue."

Hashim called herself "very opinionated."

"I'll get down and dirty with everybody and tell them what I think about things," she said.

Her role models include President George W. Bush because she admires "a person who sticks to his guns regardless of what people say about them" and dance division head Jory Hancock, who she says is responsible for the UA dance program's "superb" reputation.

Hashim will compete in the Miss Arizona pageant along with Miss Pima County Kumari Fulbright June 25 in Gilbert.

In the meantime, Hashim will continue to juggle coursework, dance rehearsals, pageant preparation and a job at Urban Outfitters all while trying to remain grounded, since she thinks her down-to-earth personality is one of her strongest qualities.

"I don't have an ego or anything like that," Hashim said. "I'm just a grounded person, and I do what I do because I love it."

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