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Two Monmouth students crowned at beauty pageants

Mike Diamond
Jackie Driscoll (left photo in center) and Jessie Howes (right photo) pose with their crowns at their respective beauty pageants.
Two women with Monmouth College ties recently fulfilled lifelong dreams by winning beauty pageants.

May graduate Jessie Howes was crowned Miss Louisa (Iowa) County as a part of the Miss America sequence, while junior Jackie Driscoll of Cambridge won the title of Miss Henry County Fair as part of the Miss Illinois Fair track.

Competing in the Miss Iowa contest, Howes and the other contestants assisted service organizations in Iowa City, including the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital and the Iowa Rotary and Kiwanis clubs.

“It was great bonding with the other girls in the competition, but I especially enjoyed reaching out to the community and seeing the kids whose day we brightened,” said Howes.

Each competitor needed a platform for their candidacy, and Howes performed volunteer work for an organization specializing in therapeutic animals in schools. She was also involved with Monmouth College’s Big Brothers, Big Sisters program. Her other MC activities included the Pi Beta Phi sorority and two vocal ensembles – the Chorale and the Sound of Five.

The competition included a 10-minute interview, evening gown and swimsuit competitions, and a 90-second talent portion, in which Howes sang “Angels.”

“I feel like Monmouth prepared me through my public relations courses,” explained Howes, who is now headed to law school. “I learned excellent public speaking skills which helped me in the competition.”

A pageant competitor since the age of seven, Howes participated in the Little Miss Iowa pageant as a 10-year-old and, four years later, was the third runner-up in the Miss Iowa National Preteen pageant. Following that finish, Howes took a hiatus from pageants.

“I love being involved with pageants and I wanted to compete at the ‘Miss’ level, but I didn’t want to miss any school if I was crowned Miss Iowa,” said Howes.

Driscoll, a history and secondary education major, won the Junior Miss Henry County Fair title in 2004, and she made a little local history by being the first such champion to be crowned Miss Henry County Fair.

Crowned the day before the fair began, Driscoll made many public appearances and wore the crown for the week-long affair. 

“This was exciting because ever since going to the fair, I have always dreamed about winning a pageant like this,” she said.

Driscoll volunteers as a youth soccer coach in her community, and she assists the Humane Society, Big Brothers, Big Sisters and a local food pantry. She also holds the title of assistant director of Up ‘til Dawn, a philanthropic event which raises money for cancer research.

“All of the experiences giving back to the community is great, even though it isn’t required for the pageant,” she said.

Driscoll is involved in the service honor society Blue Key at Monmouth, where she is also a Scot Ambassador and a member of the cheerleading squad.