The University of Central Arkansas crowned a new queen during its annual pageant on Friday night in Reynolds Performance Hall.

UCA senior Ebony Mitchell, of Harrison, will serve the university as 2019 Miss UCA for the next year.

The 22-year-old daughter of Hulene Ongola, was sponsored by the UCA Cheer Team.

After competing against 10 other contestants in five-phases including on-stage question, private interview, lifestyle and fitness in swimsuit, talent, and presence and poise in evening wear, Mitchell took home a $6,000 tuition scholarship and more than $8,500 in other awards and prizes.

That, she said, is a big reason she decided to run.

Mitchell said while she didn’t know she would win, she did hope for the best.

“When they had called me as the winner, I was shocked, speechless, and in awe,” she said. “I couldn’t believe that they had just said my name.”

Mitchell was crowned by 2018 Miss UCA Megan McAfee with the help of 2018 Miss Arkansas Claudia Raffo.

“I have loved Ebony since the day I met her,” McAfee said. “She is genuine, kind, and has an undeniable love for UCA. We’ve become great friends over the last two years together at Miss Arkansas and she’s a friend I’ll have for the rest of my life. I can’t wait to watch her serve UCA in the best job ever.”

Raffo said she has also had the privilege of knowing Mitchell for years.

“She is genuine, sincere, and dedicated,” Miss Arkansas said. “The University of Central Arkansas is lucky to have a representative as wonderful as Ebony.”

To the other women in the competition, Mitchell said, “you are all winners."

“There is not a better group I’d want to compete with,” Mitchell said.

The new queen said during the next year she hopes to make more appearances than any other Miss UCA before her.

“I also hope to make the absolute best out of each and every day as Miss UCA,” Mitchell said. “I can not wait to see what this year has in store for me, and the [university].”

She said she is looking forward to the people she will meet and being able to talk about UCA at Miss Arkansas.

“I am so excited to represent my school for the entire year,” Mitchell said. “I am so blessed with this opportunity.”

The event, which was sponsored for the past 23 years by the Miss UCA Pageant Association and Alpha Sigma Alpha Sorority and began in 1965 as the Miss Arkansas State Teachers College, featured appearances by Raffo, the Alpha Sigma Alpha Phoenix Dancers, the UCA Honeybear Dance Team, Miss UCA 2017 Kelli Collins.

Miss Arkansas 2017 Katie Bailey Harris also served as mistress of ceremonies for the evening.

“My favorite part of doing events on college campuses in Arkansas is meeting students,” Raffo said.

She said she loves hearing their stories and seeing how much they love their university.

“I definitely saw a sense of pride each student had for UCA last night,” Raffo said. “The University [of] Central Arkansas is a beautiful community with a big heart.”

She described the pageant Friday night as “wonderful,” with her favorite part being able to look around at the end of the show and see that each and every contestant that competed had won a scholarship to further their education.

“That is what the Miss Arkansas System is all about,” Raffo said.

Look for a feature on the new 2019 Miss UCA in the Log Cabin Democrat in the weeks to come.