Black and gold mixed with glitz and glamour filled the Pegasus Ballroom of the Student Union as Sara York was crowned the 2010 Miss UCF on Saturday night.

About 700 students attended “A Knight of Fame,” the 2010 Miss UCF Scholarship Pageant, presented by the Campus Activities Board.

Thirty-five women auditioned for the competition. Sixteen were chosen to sing, dance and tumble their way across the stage.

Contestants were required to be full-time students, have at least a 2.5 GPA and have a talent that can be performed onstage.

“It is our mission tonight to find the ideal UCF Knight,” said Dasha Gonzalez, Miss UCF 2009 and a senior micro & molecular biology major. “She should be dedicated to our community and its betterment, talented and able to entertain, articulate and ready to represent her university with poise and pride.”

Contestants were judged on private interviews, lifestyle, fitness, talent, swimwear, evening wear and a final onstage question.

Except for a few of the women, most had never competed in pageants.

“A lot of the times the girls come in [to auditions] not really knowing how serious the pageant is,” said Samantha Nemeroff, a senior event management major and Spectacular Knights and CAB director. “Unlike Mr. UCF, she could go on to Miss Florida with the chance of becoming Miss America.”

When the pageant kicked off, contestants danced a choreographed number to “Fame” as Gonzalez took center stage.

While many of the women chose to serenade judges and audience members during the talent portion of the competition, others took a different approach.

Alejandra Kato spiced things up with a flamenco dance, and Nicole Salce, the winner of the interview portion of the competition, donned a fuzzy pink bathrobe and slippers for her “Guys and Dolls” performance.

Natalia Vighetto, a former competitive gymnast, was the non-finalist talent winner with her acrobatics-infused dance routine.

“It’s not just a talent show,” Nemeroff said. “It’s not just ‘Hey look at me, I’m pretty’-it’s about your integrity and really representing your school.”

Mr. UCF 2010, Michael Newman, read an original poem about the perfect woman before the onstage interview segment of the pageant began.

During this time, contestants were given a chance to positively push their platforms. Sara York, the newly-crowned Miss UCF and event management major, wants to work with nonprofit organizations after graduation.

“Crafting a vision, creating a future, for me, is all about promoting self-confidence in today’s youth,” York said.

She goes to local youth organizations and makes vision boards to help children materialize their hopes and dreams, she said.

As Gonzalez prepared to pass on the title and the crown to her best friend, she said, “Holy guacamole! It’s been a year already.”

She said she’s had the opportunity to let the community know “who and what UCF stands for.”

York also took home the audience favorite award after Knight-Thon’s fundraiser for Children’s Miracle Network determined the winner. Audience donations totaled more than $1600.

Veronica Livesay, executive director of the pageant, said, “It takes parents and it takes role models to help these students develop.”

Livesay is celebrating 25 years of working with Miss UCF pageants.

Kelly Cox, Jacqueline Boehme and Lauren Murphy were awarded first, second and third runners-up, respectively. All finalists won scholarship money, free textbooks for a year and a class ring.

Source : Central Florida Future, by Aimee Hoyt, Contestants perform for scholarship and crown: Published: Sunday, February 7, 2010, updated: Sunday, February 7, 2010