A UCF student was told she was ineligible to compete in the 2015 Miss UCF Scholarship Pageant because she has a 2-year-old son.
Alma Hill, a junior journalism major, auditioned for the pageant and was subsequently notified that she had been selected as a contestant. However, due to a dead car battery, Hill missed a crucial meeting regarding the pageant.
Hill, who is currently engaged, then sent an email to event organizers who said that to proceed, they needed her birth date and her expected date of her marriage ceremony — the latter of which is currently unset.
In the email, Hill said she voluntarily offered the information that she had a child, to which Miss UCF officials responded, on Oct. 13, rescinding her acceptance.
"Unfortunately, one of the Miss America Organization rules is that contestants are not allowed to have children," Sara Sanchez, Mr. and Miss UCF director, told Hill in an email. "At this time, I must let you know that you are no longer able to be a contestant for our Miss UCF pageant. I regret not being able to share this experience with you, but I wish you the best this rest of the semester. "
The winner of Miss UCF goes on to compete in Miss Florida and subsequently Miss America.
"So their reasoning was because of the fact that I could potentially get to a pageant where those would also be the rules, I was disqualified from this one," Hill said.
In response, on Oct. 13, Hill posted on Facebook regarding the disqualification. That post now has 22 shares and roughly 140 likes.
"UCF has 63,000 [students] and so I think that a huge talking point about this school is diversity," Hill said. "You can't pretend that one demographic of students is all that we see. Being someone who's in that position will be a very interesting yet realistic representation of the student body population."
Hill filed a letter of appeal with the pageant asking officials to reconsider her situation.
On Oct. 14, Hill received a reply to her appeal letter from Lamar Walker, coordinator for the Office of Student Involvement.
"I promise you that Sara Sanchez [Mr. and Miss UCF Director] and I are looking into a way to let you compete in the Miss UCF Pageant," Walker's email stated. "I want to thank you for being forthright with us and assure you that as we have more information we will communicate it to you."
David Oglethorpe, communications coordinator for the Office of Student Involvement, said that Walker notified Hill by telephone that she would be allowed to compete in the pageant. Hill confirmed that she was told she will be able to participate in the pageant.
Hill said she will be running under the platform of education for young mothers.
"I've given up a lot and I've made a lot of sacrifices to be in school," Hill said. "I share custody of my son with a family member, which is very difficult for me, so most of the time he's not with me. But I made that choice because when I had him … I had a conversation with a family member, and his father and I decided that we needed to finish school so that he could have better opportunities."
If Hill were to win the Miss UCF pageant, however, she would not be able to compete in the Miss Florida pageant as that pageant also follows the rules of the Miss America Organization, said Mary Sullivan, executive director of the Miss Florida pageant.
Contestants for the Miss Florida pageant are required to sign a contract to compete and as Hill's situation deviates from the Miss America Organization's rules, she would be unable to sign the contract.
Editor's Note: To provide full disclosure, Alma Hill is a contributing writer for the Central Florida Future.