Beauty and Brains: Baylor dominates the Miss Texas 2012 pageant

July 17, 2012

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Media contact: Lori Fogleman, (254) 710-6275
WACO, Texas (July 13, 2012)- Even after winning Miss Texas and continuing the national headline-grabbing success of her alma mater, dubbed the "Year of the Bear", DaNae Couch, B.A. '10, is humble.
"It's kind of incredible. As this whole year has unfolded, I was just so excited to say that I was a Baylor alum. It was just so great--and now to be included in that just a little bit is just surreal," Couch said. "I feel like Baylor gave me so much. They didn't just give me an education, but showed me how to become a leader and develop a servant leadership attitude."
While at Baylor, Couch, an English major and public relations minor, was a twirler in the Golden Wave Band, a member of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, Baylor Ambassadors, Student Foundation and a part of the Honors Program.
"I did a lot of lobbying in Baylor Ambassadors and StuFu (Student Foundation). Because I was in the Honors Program, I had to defend my thesis my senior year. That really tests your ability to articulately express yourself and speak cohesively in a short period of time. That helped a lot with Miss Texas, because you're out in the community and talking to people," she said
Couch, who was named as Miss Texas 2012 Saturday, July 7, began competing in pageants as a way to earn scholarship money while at Baylor. Only one year away from obtaining her law degree from Texas Tech University in Lubbock, she will continue with her studies after her reign as Miss Texas, and hopes to do so debt free.
"I actually started competing for Miss Texas my senior year at Baylor. I am not sure of the exact total right now, but I think I have around $30,000 in scholarships from competing. The Miss America organization is the largest scholarship provider for young women in the world," Couch said.
Valerie Bell, the media contact for the Miss Texas Organization, echoed Couch's comment.
"The goal of Miss Texas is to give scholarships to the women of Texas. It's a scholarship competition--they just also happen to be beautiful and talented," Bell said.
Couch views her new position as an opportunity to spread her message about addiction.
"My personal platform is Hope for Family Recovery: Life Beyond Addiction," she said. "It is something that is close to my heart this year. I knew someone personally who was struggling with addiction. It is just so hard, because people don't have as much awareness about addiction as we would like to think. It's sad, because people don't know the signs and then the ones close to them who are struggling don't want to get help because they are scared to talk about it."
Couch said that she will spend a majority of the year talking in schools, discussing how to recognize the signs of addiction and how to get help for those who need it. She also has decided to take on a push for more scholarships for Miss Texas participants.
Couch, however, wasn't the only Baylor graduate on the stage at the pageant, as two other Bears were selected in the top five. Miss Fort Worth Natalie Baker, B.F.A. '10, was the second runner up and Miss Fort Worth Christine Tang, B.A '12, was the fourth runner up.
Baker graduated with a 4.0 GPA and has taught high school for the past two years. She will graduate with her master's degree in December. She hopes to eventually get her doctorate and work in school administration.
Tang graduated in May, and will begin law school in August.
The three women bonded during the time of the competition, which was no surprise to Bell.
"Even though they were competing against each other, I don't think that they will have a single thing to say about each other that isn't glowing. They were all great girls," she said.
Couch said that she knew Tang before through similar interests and the Greek system, but did not know Baker before the competition. They all three did, however, became quite close during the competition time.
"One of the things that most people don't know is that the contestants lived together this year. It was a great opportunity to get to know each other," Couch said. "It really just made me realize that all 39 women competing this year are so talented and gifted. They are going to change the world, if they haven't started already. We have the best girls in the country."
The Baylor ties do not end at roommates, participants and top selections, however. As a part of winning, Couch received many perks--one being a new Infiniti from Grubbs Infiniti in Euless. Owner George Grubbs III was also a Baylor graduate, and was excited to be gifting a fellow Bear.
"This has been a great year for Baylor and I am excited to see all the support. Baylor has always been known for great academic programs, and many different athletic programs including basketball, baseball and football, so I think it is fitting that now Baylor can add Miss Texas to the list," Grubbs said. "I am so proud of DaNae, Natalie and Christine. They have all worked very hard for many years and deserve to be recognized. I am also proud that Baylor played an important part of these ladies' lives and helped them become who they are today."
In another surprising Baylor connection, Melissa Merriman, director of communications for Dillard's and the Jessica Simpson brand, was not only a former participant in the pageant, but a Baylor alum as well.
"As a former Miss Texas contestant, it's been exciting for me to be able to bring the Miss Texas Organization, Dillard's and Jessica Simpson together as partners this year. And, as a life-long Baylor Bear, the fact that three of the top five Miss Texas contestants are fellow Baylor graduates makes it even more exciting," Merriman said.
The Miss Texas Organization and all Baylor Bears involved expressed excitement at Couch's win, and wished her luck in the next phase of the competition. She is already preparing for the Miss America competition, which is being held in Las Vegas on Jan. 13.
"It's been a little bit of a whirlwind," she laughed.

Baylor University is a private Christian university and a nationally ranked research institution, classified as such with "high research activity" by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The university provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating university in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions. -->

by Mallory Hisler, student newswriter, (254) 710-6805