Ashley Durham is hoping a recent walk down the runway will lead to bigger journeys
around the world.
|U of M junior Ashley Durham was crowned Miss Tennessee USA in October. Photo courtesy
of Clarksville Montgomery County Convention Center and Visitors Bureau.
Durham, a journalism major at the University of Memphis, was crowned Miss Tennessee
USA 2011 in a pageant in Clarksville, Tenn., in October. The junior will represent
the state in the Miss USA pageant in Las Vegas this spring with a chance to move on
to the Miss Universe competition.
“This really opens doors for me,” said Durham, a native of Adamsville, Tenn. “Pageants
can do so much for you. They improve your interview skills and your people skills
— things that can be used in everyday life.”
While the U of M has never had a Miss USA before, two co-eds have been named Miss
America: Barbara Jo Walker Hummel (BS ’48) in 1947 and Kellye Cash in 1987. And Claire
Ford (BA '81), who went on to star in an episode of Fantasy Island, was crowned Miss
Black America in 1977.
Durham said preparing for a pageant of this magnitude is no easy task and she plans
to take the spring semester off to prepare.
“I have interview coaches and a personal trainer to help me get ready,” she said.
She is also hoping to put to bed the myth that beauty pageants are filled with shallow
“The stereotype that goes along with pageants is so hard to overcome,” she said. “There
is so much self character that goes into this, so much hard work.”
Durham carries a 3.75 grade point average and is a member of Alpha Gamma Delta sorority.
She is also active in campus charity events, including Up ‘til Dawn, a fundraiser
for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Durham also won the Miss Teen Tennessee USA pageant in 2005 for the 2006 year. She
is the daughter of Harvey and Charlotte Durham of Adamsville, which is about two hours
east of Memphis near Selmer, Tenn.