By M.A. IX
The impending eight-and-a-half months of the school year may seem a bit tough to juggle for the average University student, but Boston University School of Public Communication senior Pamela Jenks, Miss Black America 1981, is excited by the challenge.
“I think that will be the key word for the year—juggle,” said Jenks, who will divide her time between student, job hunter, Patriots cheerleader and travelling promoter of the 14-year-old pageant.
Originally from Moon Township, Pa., Jenks said it was kind of a fluke how the idea of entering the competition came about. A bus stop advertisement drew her interest to the Miss Black Personality Contest in Boston last October. She won and entered the local Miss Black America preliminary, in which she won the chance to represent Boston in the July contest.
“I was in a cloud after winning but came down quickly,” Jenks said. “I’ve been in SPC three years and have been prepared for interviews, but now I was the object of those interviews which was quite eye opener!”
A public relations major, Jenks has found the best advantage of her new title has been the opportunity to travel and to meet contacts in her field. “People get to know my career goals and they begin to ask ‘What can we do for you?’” she said
Jenks is also interested in sports promotions and has worked with several sports organizations. “It springs out of being a die-hard fan,” she said.
During her reign as Miss Black America, Jenks would like to protray the image of today’s young black woman as being talented, perceptive, professional and one who can communicate well.
“The title evokes many images but you must bring your own in and promote yourself and then promote the contest,” Jenks said.
“I hope to reach young black kids who might ask ‘How did you do it?’ and I can say that I stayed in school and didn’t hanf out in the streets,” she said.
The oldest of seven children, Jenks said she wants to stress our generation’s responsibility to the young.
Thirty-six states were represented in the competition and Jenks is looking to get more involved next year. “Businesses sponsor the contest but some fail to see it as a good opportunity for young black women careerwise, but also to contribute back to the community in return,” she said.
Of her experience on stage, Jenks compared it to a movie, because its “uncomfortable taping for TV and there is a lot of waiting around.” She was the last finalist to be called after a swimsuit competition and jazz dance routine.
Along with her title and other smaller gifts, she won scholarship money, a $1000 wardrobe and a chance to travel extensively throughout the country. She has done print publicity in Boston and was featured on local talk show New England Today, Urban Update and Coming Together.
In ninth grade, Jenks failed to be persuaded by her mother to enter the Miss Black America Contest of Pittsburgh. “The night of the final I had a yearbook meeting so that was the end of that idea,” she said.
Between cheering rehearsals, jazz exercising and the start of some product endorsements, Jenks was able to enjoy some time to relax after the competition, which was held in the Poconos.
“It was my first summer not going to school or working so I lived the life of a typical New Englander; express to the Cape,” she said.
Jenks admitted one small disadvantage is the pressure to stick to priorities. “There are some days when you just don’t want to do anything but you have to make appointments and sessions, not to mention cracking books. I also must be careful with the public and private sides of Pam Jenks,” she said.
The months to follow will open even more doors for the prepared senior.
“I’m always thinking ‘How is this going to help me in the future?’ and I think this comes from BU,” Jenks said. “It’s a fantastic opportunity careerwise and that’s what it’s all about.”