The Miss Texas organization is much more than a beauty pageant, it is a Scholarship Pageant. Founded in 1936 by a group of civic minded citizens concerned about higher education for women in a time when most women didn’t attend college, the Miss Texas pageants purpose is to provide personal and professional opportunities for young Texas women and promoting their voice in culture, politics and community. For many young women, Miss Texas provides much needed assistance with college funds while giving them a voice to lend to important causes in their communities. Every year the reigning Miss Texas sets aside school and job to represent the Miss Texas organization by putting in countless hours of travel and community service during her reign. When her year is over and she crowns the next Miss Texas she will have earned scholarships to help advance her education and her future that may not have been possible without this opportunity. Last year alone, the Miss America state level pageants nationwide gave 46 million dollars in scholarships to young women participating in the scholarship pageant program across the country.
On Saturday, April 5 the Miss Texas Organization held their annual Women of Achievement Luncheon during the weekend of the 2nd annual Little Miss Texas Stars Pageant at the Renaissance Hotel in Richardson. Little Miss Texas Stars was designed as a fundraiser to support the Miss Texas Pageant Scholarship Fund as well as to prepare younger girls for future Miss Texas Outstanding Teen and Miss Texas pageant opportunities. It was an exciting weekend for Miss Texas pageant girls and alumni with the annual Spring meeting being held, the Tiny, Mini, Miss and Junior divisions pageant and the annual luncheon that had a very special announcement to be made. The banquet was sold out with extra chairs being pulled into tables set for ten, to make them a dozen. The invocation was given by Bellinda Myrick-Barnett, Miss Texas 1970 – Miss West Texas 1969 -Miss America USO Show 1971 to the War in South Vietnam. A Ceasar salad followed by a main course of filet of beef atop garlic mashed potatoes and baby carrots with a slice of cheesecake for dessert was served and the Speaker and honoree, Dr.Shirley Cothran-Barret, Miss America 1975 – Miss Texas 1974 – Miss Hurst Euless Bedford 1974 – Miss America USO Show 1972 was introduced. Dr. Cothran-Barret had the attention of all the local title holders and their mothers in the room, as Shirley is the last Miss Texas to have one Miss America and everyone surely wanted to know how she did it. Shirley had many fascinating stories to share and probably spoke for longer than had been planned but no one minded, as she kept them laughing! Shirley grew up meagerly in Denton Texas, the daughter of a mother who had been orphaned at a very young age. Being quiet and shy, yet smart in school, she found that by volunteering to be the librarian she could avoid P.E. Years later she would run across a man that she went to high school with whom proclaimed to her, “When they announced your name as the winner I couldn’t believe it!”. What an inspiration Dr. Cothran-Barret is to all those young women in that room. If a poor, shy librarian can win not only Miss Texas, but Miss America, every single one of those girls have a chance. The Miss Texas/America program completely funded all the letters behind this very articulate and educated woman’s name, she said. In her honor, it was announced to her surprise that the Women of Achievement Luncheon shall be re-named and forever known as The DR. SHIRLEY COTHRAN BARRET WOMEN OF ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS LUNCHEON.