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By Michael Peri

Arizona Daily Wildcat

With a little luck o' the Irish, a UA student won the title of "Miss Colleen" in a statewide Irish beauty and talent contest.

Cara O'Driscoll, an ecology and evolutionary biology sophomore, competed against 17 other Arizona women in the "Colleen Pageant" for various prizes and a trip to Ireland this summer to represent Arizona in an international pageant.

The pageant, which uses Irish culture as its central theme, is part of an international network of competitions for women of Irish descent, ages 18 to 26. There are five pageants in the United States and one in Australia. This summer, the winners of these competitions will meet competitors from Europe and Ireland in the county of Claire for the title of "Darlin' Girl of Claire."

O'Driscoll said she didn't realize what a big deal it is to compete to be the "Darlin' Girl" until after she was named the Arizona "Colleen" Feb. 4 in Phoenix.

"I think since I had such a laid-back attitude about it the whole time, I was like 'whatever happens, happens,' so I didn't realize how important it is," she said. "Especially in Ireland."

Competitors for the Colleen Pageant were required to submit a biography and essay, and participate in preliminary interviews. During the pageant, contestants participate in a talent contest and two interviews.

Talents included Irish folk-dancing and poetry writing. O'Driscoll played a violin rendition of "Londonderry Aire" and won a $500 U.S. savings bond, a set of luggage, and most importantly, the title of "Colleen."

As part of her duties, O'Driscoll will appear in the Phoenix St. Patrick's Day Parade March 11, and will attend the "Emerald Ball" later that night.

The positive response from the Irish community, especially that of O'Driscoll's Irish-born father, has been nearly overwhelming for her. Unlike her enthusiastic surroundings, O'Driscoll said she is waiting for the reality to hit home.

"I'm just waiting for it to happen," she said. "It probably won't really hit me until I get there."

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