Mountain Home-Grown Beauty Queen

Among the guys, it usually starts towards the end of freshman year. There are rumors of a better place, where the girls can’t tie you in knots talking about Kant, where the nubile coeds hang on a Harvard man’s every word.

Go south to B.U., or west to Wellesley, or north to Tufts, they say—the grass is greener over there.

But FM is here to remind its readers yet again that there are beauties at Harvard.

This year, the Class of 2006 boasts at least three women who are real live beauty queens. Nina Vasan ’06 won West Virginia’s Junior Miss competition. Kristi L. Jobson ’06 won Maryland’s Junior Miss competition. Susanne C. Chock ’06, who is the only first-year from Arkansas, three-peated, winning Arkansas’ Junior Miss competition, Miss Teen of Arkansas and Miss Teen of the South.

Officially, none of these competitions judge a contestant’s looks. That is no longer politically correct. Instead, they judge a contestant’s “poise,” in addition to more tangible criteria like GPA and extracurricular activities.

But whatever you call it, Chock has lots of poise.

Her perfectly ordered, perfectly white teeth shine whenever she smiles, which is often. She has long brown hair and hazel eyes that match.

Beauty pageants weren’t always her thing. She says she’s really more of a tomboy and had to practice walking in heels for the evening gown competition.

Her friends back home thought it was all pretty funny. One even sent her a fur-trimmed bra, joking about her new status as an ambassador of charm.

In Cambridge, Chock says she hasn’t gotten any flak about it (though, being from Arkansas, she has heard “every Clinton joke under the sun”).

“I love it,” she says of Harvard. “After coming from Arkansas, there’s so much to do here.” In her little north Arkansas town of Mountain Home, right up against the Missouri border, the main activities are going to the lake and to the movie theater. “Everyone knows everyone else,” she says.

Many of her classmates at Harvard worked as lifeguards or camp counselors to make money when they were young. As a child, Chock caught crawfish (also known as crawdads, mudbloods and mudcritters) and sold them to local fishermen for bait.

She is hardly a typical Arkansan, however. For one, she’s figured how to talk all Yankee, and two, well, she’s the only person from Arkansas in her Harvard class.

She explains that her parents aren’t from the South (her father is Chinese and her mother is German), she’s spent summers in Washington, D.C. and she travels a lot.

For Chock, the beauty pageants weren’t about affirming her good looks or popularity. She needed the scholarship money—which came out to around $2,000 in total winnings.

But that’s still a pittance when compared to the cost of a Harvard education. Her shot at the big money will come in two years, when her current reign ends and she becomes eligible for the Miss Arkansas competition, which leads up to the Miss America pageant.

Lauren Elizabeth Davidson, who won this year’s Miss Arkansas competition, won over $50,000.

Chock says she’s “thinking about” entering that pageant, and just in case, she’s training—taking voice lessons, gliding through the Science Center with a touch of grace and charm, and working on that winning smile.

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