Since being crowned Miss Black Pennsylvania in March, Shanay Ball is busy. She spends her time reaching out to youth, helping her community, working hard at a full-time job and attending Temple as a graduate student.
In addition to her busy schedule she is preparing for the Miss Black USA Pageant in October.
Ball resides outside of Philadelphia in Cheltenham, Pa., with her parents, little brother and puppy, Shadow. As a child, Ball attended Catholic school where she received straight A’s.
One of her favorite memories is of her school’s “Rainbow Excellence” awards, honoring students with academic excellence. After seeing a girl in her school win constantly, Ball was motivated to do the same and succeeded in racking up many similar awards.
As a young girl, Ball loved Barbie dolls and she had her mother to play with her. Ball said she is extremely close to her mother and tells her everything, but does not have many other close friends.
In her earlier years, Ball’s mother entered her in beauty pageants and Ball got into modeling, but because of the scams and the dishonesty associated with the business, Ball said she steered away from modeling and focused on her education.
In 2003, Ball entered the Miss Black Pennsylvania without knowing what to expect. She loved the stage and after that experience she began to search for new pageants.
Ball began to look for pageants that dealt with scholarships, tutoring and commitment to doing things in the community. She believes that it is not always about beauty and looks – leadership plays an essential role as well.
“There’s a lack of positive role models, it’s important to have a title because people will listen more,” Ball said. “I think it is important to have a positive influence in the community.”
Ball’s love for pageants is another reason for entering the Miss Black USA. This pageant focuses on fitness, talent and how well contestants represent themselves. There is also an evening gown section and an interview.
Although Ball enjoys pageants, she said she does not appreciate the expense of entering one. In addition to entrance fees, other factors include travel accommodations, hotel costs and wardrobe. Ball also has a pageant coach who she sees weekly for an hour. And in the Miss Black USA Pageant contestants raise money through sponsors.
Ball is currently studying quality assurance and regulatory affairs. She also works full time at McNeil Pharmaceuticals, the maker of Tylenol. Aside from school and work, Ball tries to make time to be an active community member, involving herself with Big Brothers Big Sisters as a tutor and volunteer. She started the “Miss Black Academic Diva” scholarship, which acknowledges young women for their academic excellence.
“I wanted to have something to award African American females for their academic excellence in school,” Ball said.
And she will soon have something for boys. It’s a part of Ball’s theme and motives of “Promoting Beauty through Excellence and Education.” Ball is also a motivational speaker at Philadelphia middle schools and will guest speak at Olney Elementary School’s graduation.
“You can do anything you want to do, but you have to believe in yourself,” Ball said. “Nothing is unattainable.”
In the future, Ball plans to remain active in the community and would like to do something with pharmacy and may even look into law.
Ball’s cousin, Monique Woods, said she is an inspiration, attesting to her innate leadership qualities. “She’s a leader and real enthusiastic, she’s really uplifting and helps others a lot,” Woods said. “She is also an extremely hard worker and she does multiple tasks with accurate results. She is also a motivator.”
Trish Fleurimond can be reached at email@example.com.