By Lynn R. Mitchell
Jaclyn Oakes has spent the past week at the Hotel Roanoke and the Roanoke Civic Center with 26 other statewide contestants for Saturday’s Miss Virginia Pageant, talking with judges, attending meet-and-greets, attending dinners, all while remaining poised and ever aware of her role in this event that is one step away from the Miss America Pageant.
In April this Randolph-Macon College student who was a 2012 graduate of Robert E. Lee High School in Staunton and the Shenandoah Valley Governor’s School in Fishersville won the Miss Southwestern Virginia pageant. Her talent was dance, and her platform was “Charlie’s Cure: Bringing Awareness to the Dangers of Skin Cancer.”
A biology major with a minor in chemistry, Jaclyn plans to attend medical school with a specialty in dermatology, a field chosen due to a favorite uncle, Charlie, who lost his battle with melanoma a decade ago. His passing left a deep impression on his niece who has named her program, to warn of the dangers of sun damage, after him:
“I am so thankful for the countless people who have supported me along this journey this year, and your love and support has pushed me to where I am today. Thank you all for believing in me and believing in Charlie’s Cure.”
Recently while watching Sandra Bullock’s movie “Miss Congeniality” that featured pageant contestants who chose “world peace” as their platforms, I thought of Jaclyn and her passion for “Charlie’s Cure.” In competing at pageants throughout the Commonwealth, she has found a platform to inform and educate about this very important issue that is near and dear to her heart and, hopefully, help prevent unnecessary deaths from skin cancer.
To further spread the message, Jaclyn set up a Facebook page and made a YouTube video titled “Charlie’s Cure: The Whole Story.” In it, sans makeup, she encouraged others by noting, “This is all about learning to LOVE yourself, without the need for a tan, or make-up, or anything else. You are beautiful the way you are and you don’t need a dangerous tan to make you that way!”
Jaclyn is the daughter of Kenny and Andrea Oakes of Staunton. Her father is operations manager at the Staunton Best Buy Distribution Center, and her mother is councilwoman on Staunton City Council. She has a younger sister, who also attends Randolph-Macon, and younger brother.
We are wishing the best to Jaclyn as she prepares for Saturday night’s competition for Miss Virginia.