2024 Benefactor Designated Scholarships

Application Deadline: May 15, 2024

Twenty benefactors will fund 25 Benefactor Designated Scholarships with a value of $33,100 for members of the Miss North Carolina Class of 2024. These scholarships are available to delegates in addition to any other funds earned in the state competition. They are subject to the 2024 Scholarship Rules and any terms and conditions expressed by the benefactor. The Application Guidelines for these scholarships have been posted to the Miss North Carolina Candidate Portal and ncesfund.org/BDS. Candidates must follow these guidelines when applying for a Benefactor Designated Scholarship.

Benefactor Designated Scholarships


In memory of longtime state volunteer Beverly Adams, the Miss North Carolina Sisterhood has established this scholarship to honor her lifetime of contributions to North Carolina. This scholarship seeks to identify a young person of exceptional character, academic excellence, and one who understands the devotion to public service, dedication to community, and the elevation of the Arts as central to public discourse, demonstrated through volunteerism and the continued pursuit of higher education. Like Beverly, this individual continually strives to lift up those around them; one who exceeds expectations while quietly encouraging others to become the best version of themselves. Applicants should demonstrate an understanding of the interrelationship of good government, volunteering, and the importance of the Arts. Candidates should consider describing their journey of faith (secular or religious) in their calling for the greater good and why their educational goals can result in doing something for the greater good in their life’s calling. A minimum 3.5 GPA is required.


Phyllis Hicks and Karen Bloomquist Elson of will fund the Four Points $2000 scholarship in honor of Wayne Hicks and his 55 years of service to the Miss North Carolina Organization. A graduate of King’s College and career business executive with the NC Department of Transportation, Wayne began working with the Miss Southern Pines Competition in 1968. He served as the North Carolina Jaycee Chair of the Miss North Carolina Program, business manager for nine Miss North Carolinas, a Miss North Carolina Field Director, and Chief of Field Operations. Currently he serves as Director, Vice President, and Treasurer for the North Carolina Educational Scholarship Fund. This scholarship will be awarded to a 2023 candidate who best exemplifies the four points of the original Miss America Crown – – Style, Service, Scholarship, and Success. Applicants should present their commitment to these four points and to the Miss America Program.


A graduate of NC State University, Dakeita is an alumna of the Miss North Carolina Program having held the titles of Miss Charlotte-Mecklenburg and Miss Cabarrus Counites. She went on to earn the title of Miss Connecticut 1983. After returning to the Tarheel State, she established the Miss Western Piedmont Pageant which for many years was among the largest preliminaries in the Miss North Carolina Program. Dakeita will fund a $1500 scholarship for a 2023 Miss North Carolina Candidate who can demonstrate an entrepreneurial spirt for long term economic growth and development opportunities.


This award is sponsored by Dana Reason, Miss North Carolina 2003, who not only won this award at the state level but placed second out of the entire nation at Miss America 2004 for her community service platform. Through her body of work, Dana has been a policy advocate, succeeded in the passing of pediatric cancer legislation and has committed her professional career to related initiatives. This scholarship will be awarded to the individual who demonstrates through application and private interview their ongoing commitment to community service now and in the future.


Competing for and winning the title of Miss North Carolina 1994, Dana Stephenson Dixon dedicated her platform to CRUSADE, a project focused on bringing together community to fight drug and alcohol abuse through volunteerism and advocacy. In that spirit Dana is sponsoring this scholarship which seeks out young women who are focused on improving the health and welfare of their community. Applicants should demonstrate the problem they have and will continue to address, how they plan to bring a community together to solve the issues and what the benefits will be through consistent volunteerism and advocacy.


This scholarship was established under the Will of Eric Ennis and is funded by an endowment from his estate. Eric studied music at ECU, earned a master’s degree in opera at the University of Michigan and was a member of the United States Army Chorus having performed at the White House many times. He began his career singing opera in New York before finding his true talent as a gown designer. For more than 50 years he was one of the preeminent clothing designers in the Miss America Program having dressed a dozen or so Miss Americas and an untold number of young women competing in the Miss North Carolina Program. Class of 2023 candidates who are pursuing a degree in music or have received a degree in music and are actively pursuing a music career are eligible to apply for this scholarship. A 90-second video performance is required as part of this application.


In memory of longtime Miss America volunteer Harold Garner, his community has created this scholarship to honor a man who lived his life selflessly and to be the best leader he could be, dreaming big and knowing every single contribution can add up for a big impact. Applicants for this scholarship should exemplify the following qualities: leadership skills, love of public speaking, passion for fundraising, an executor of big ideas, a hometown helper and a young woman who is unapologetically herself in every part of her life.


For more than 40 years Janice Barbee has been a high school guidance counselor and has advised thousands of students on career and school choices. She will fund a $1000 scholarship in honor of someone who presents a record of academic excellence. Since 1945, the Miss America organization has established itself as one of the earliest scholarship resources to ensure higher education opportunities for women. North Carolina takes pride in not only those who achieve education goals, but also those who reach top honors in academics. This award will recognize a young woman who most exemplifies academic excellence. It takes a unique individual who not only recognizes the value of education but also strives with dedication and commitment to exceed expectations. Applicants for this scholarship should demonstrate the character traits they developed to achieve academic excellence and how they will apply the lessons learned to reach career and personal goals in the future. The application must include high school and college GPA, noting any scholastic awards, research projects, papers or other evidence of academic accomplishments.


Gary Hurst will fund an Innovation Scholarship in honor of Jennifer Vaden Barth, Miss North Carolina 1991. Jennifer is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill and holds a Master’s Degree in Music Theater from The Boston Conservatory. As a 25-year proud member of Actor’s Equity she enjoyed leading roles in the US and Europe before expanding her impact as a business executive working in the industries of technology and renewable energy. Candidates who value creativity and academic excellence while pursuing studies in research or innovation may apply for this scholarship.


The Public Service Scholarship was established in 2018 and is funded by Julie Caudle Fields, retired Director of Planning and Development for the City of Asheville. A Duke University honors graduate, with a law degree and Master’s in City and Regional Planning from UNC-CH, Julie is an alumna of the Miss North Carolina Program. She was a Top Ten contender as Miss Thomasville, and 4th Runner-Up to Miss North Carolina and Miss Congeniality as Miss Durham. Preference will be given to a candidate with a specific interest in government service.


The Kay Dickinson Teaching Scholarship was established and is funded by McNeil and Sandra Chestnut in honor of Kay Dickinson, a legendary elementary school teacher and Hostess for the Miss North Competition for more than 45 years. Kay was honored by the Governor of North Carolina with membership in the Order of the Long Leaf Pine and by the Triad Region of North Carolina for her commitment to public education. Candidates who are actively pursuing a degree in education, or who are currently teaching in the North Carolina public schools, may apply for this scholarship.


With a lifestyle enriched by focusing on the benefits of sports and wellbeing, an anonymous donor has created this scholarship in honor of Karolyn D. Martin, Miss North Carolina 2022. Karolyn played volleyball competitively for over ten years and continues to participate recreationally. Her community service initiative, #SelfKare: Eat to Success, serves to promote nutrition while taking the focus off of weight and appearance. She credits this idea to learning about the importance of fueling your body as an athlete. During her time in the Miss NC Scholarship Organization, she published a cookbook, hosted national wellness summits, and partnered with the United States Department of Agriculture’s “Team Nutrition” school program. This scholarship is open to applicants who can speak to the benefits they have experienced being involved in sports and/or are pursuing a sports-related career field. Applicants must demonstrate what they have learned to care for their mind, body and spirit through sports and which lessons they will carry through life as they continue to excel personally and professionally. Applicants should speak to at least two of the following attributes in their statement: Leadership, Discipline, Resilience, Teamwork. This scholarship is limited to non-dancing athletics.


Lane was an accomplished member of the community with longtime professional experience in the fields of Education, Finance and ultimately in Marketing for the North Carolina Zoological Park. His heart for entertainment is where he truly let his light shine. Lane’s prowess as a singer, actor, emcee and storied cabaret producer is known throughout the state. His creative expertise was only surpassed by his gift for storytelling, impersonations and a phenomenal sense of comedic timing. Most of all, Lane is remembered for his commitment to the Miss North Carolina Pageant family as exhibited by 50 years of volunteer service. Lane is legendary in these circles and is respected and admired dearly by the pageant community. The Love and Light Scholarship will honor the life of Lane Ragsdale. Applicants will be called upon to demonstrate a body of work that exemplifies passion, commitment and inclusion.


Laura Matrazzo-Ryan and her husband Forrest Ryan will fund this $1000 scholarship as a testament to the belief that empowering individuals with Financial knowledge is key to fostering economic independence and stability. This scholarship aims to recognize and support individuals, particularly women, who demonstrate a profound understanding of financial literacy principles and actively advocate for their dissemination within their communities. The recipient of this scholarship embodies the spirit of financial empowerment, not only by mastering personal finance but also by actively engaging in initiatives that promote financial education among their peers. With the Matrazzo Financial Literacy Scholarship, Laura Matrazzo continues her Miss North Carolina 2018 platform legacy to inspire a new generation of financially savvy individuals who will lead the charge in creating a more economically resilient and equitable society. Applicant criteria should include a demonstrated understanding of basic financial literacy principles, engagement in activities promoting financial education within communities; commitment to personal financial management and planning; potential to positively impact others through financial literacy advocacy; leadership skills and ability to inspire others in financial matters; creative approaches to disseminating financial knowledge; demonstrated initiative in seeking out financial education opportunities; overcoming financial challenges and demonstrating resilience; diversity of background, experiences, and perspectives; passion for improving financial well-being for oneself and others.


North Carolina culture and tradition are steeped in dance history beginning with the birth of clogging in the NC mountains. Miss NC audiences have been entertained for decades by great dancers across the state. The Miss North Carolina Sisterhood proudly boasts quite a few accomplished dancers including our Miss America 1962 Maria Beale Fletcher, already an accomplished professional dancer with the Radio City Rockettes when she won the Miss America title. The Miss NC Sisterhood will fund this $1000 scholarship in honor of Maria and in recognition of the rich history of accomplished dancers who grace the Miss NC stage. Applicants who are dancing for their talent should include in their essay any forms of dance they have studied as well as share the benefits and impact of dance on their lives. Applicants will be required to submit a 90 second video as part of the application.


An alumna of the Miss Georgia Program, a graduate of the University of Georgia and Harvard University, Mikaya is a Public Relations Strategist who helps companies and clients achieve their branding goals. She’s spent more than a decade honing the power of messaging and her award-winning career began as a journalist including WRAL-TV in Raleigh. As Mikaya put it, so much of what she has accomplished, and where she is today, is because of her participation in the Miss America Program. She now wants to give back and will fund a scholarship to support the career aspirations in Mass Communications. The essay underlying the application should speak to the values of resilience, integrity and authenticity while also demonstrating the applicant’s goals for the future. The benefactor will require a virtual interview of the top three candidates.


Robert and Michelle Gregory will fund a $1300 Scholarship for a member of the Miss North Class of 2024 studying or actively pursuing a career in the fields of science, technology, engineering or mathematics. Michelle, Co-Executive Director of the Miss Morganton Program, is a high school mathematics teacher. She and her husband Robert understand the career opportunity that STEM offers and are pleased to encourage young women in the Miss North Carolina Program to pursue a STEM course of study.


This scholarship was established in 2017 and is funded by Smithfield, one of North Carolina’s leading agricultural enterprises, to honor a candidate from an agricultural background, including parents or grandparents who are farmers. The application must show work experience in an agriculture related field, an agricultural course of study or family involvement in farming. Preference will be given to a candidate who has a direct link to the swine industry.


The Healthcare Impact Scholarship was established by Victoria Baskett in 2017. Victoria’s scholarship is funded by the Victoria Baskett Patient Safety Foundation, and will be awarded to a candidate pursuing studies in the field of healthcare. As a Miss North Carolina Program alumna, she held the titles of Miss Greater Cape Fear, Miss Goldsboro and Miss Fayetteville and was awarded the Miss America Community Service Award and was a two-time top ten contender at the state competition. Victoria completed her undergraduate degree at UNC Chapel Hill, where she also earned her Master’s in Healthcare Administration. She is an internationally renowned advocate for patient safety and holds several healthcare performance improvement credentials. Victoria is a Managing Director at PG Forsta, an international healthcare company, where she works on client management, growth and strategy.


A scholarship was established in 2019 and is being funded by an anonymous donor in honor of Victoria Huggins, Miss North Carolina 2017, the 80th Queen of the Tarheel State. The benefactor has provided that the scholarship recipient must “exemplify a joyful spirt of style and service that reflects her commitment to her community and the greater good of the State of North Carolina.”


The first Benefactor Designated Scholarship, the World Changer scholastic award was established in 2014 by Ward Black Law, founded by Janet Ward Black, Miss North Carolina 1980. Janet Ward is a graduate of Davidson College and Duke University School of Law. A very prominent attorney and recognized leader in the North Carolina legal community, she has served as President of the North Carolina Bar Association and the North Carolina Advocates for Justice. This scholarship is given to a candidate who can demonstrate her vision of how she could improve the world through non-profits or business endeavors. The funds may be used to help accomplish this recipient’s vision through continued education.


The Miss America’s Teen competition is a vital part of the Miss North Carolina Scholarship Organization. To recognized and incentivize young women to continue their Miss America journey from the Teen to the Miss division, this $1000 scholarship is created by The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Organization and McKenzie Jade, who made history as the first Miss North Carolina’s Outstanding Teen (2011) to become Miss North Carolina (2016). Any delegate who has competed in a Miss America teen local preliminary is eligible for this scholarship upon providing a signed contract from that local competition. The winner will be randomly selected and announced at the NCESF Scholarship Awards event.


An anonymous benefactor has donated a $3000 contribution with which to fund three Community Service Impact Scholarship at $1000 each. An independent review panel will consider an applicant’s quality and extent of community service provided. Applicants should show the amount of fund raising, if any, as well as the number of hours of community service and the results of any projects or initiatives.