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OHIO faculty, staff showcase talents at annual pageant (PHOTOS)


Equipped with their talents and a little bit of courage, six Ohio University faculty and staff members stepped into the spotlight the evening of Feb. 27 to participate in one of Alpha Phi Omega’s signature charity events. 

The eighth annual Ava Nichols’ Faculty Pageant was held in the Baker University Center Ballroom. Hosted by OHIO’s chapter of the Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity, the pageant asks Ohio University employees to share the talents they possess outside of the classroom and office – all to benefit a charity near and dear to the service fraternity. 

Six contestants battled it out in the pageant’s formal wear round, talent show and question-and-answer session. This year’s pageant contestants were:

  • Joe Brenckle, a graduate assistant for community engagement in OHIO’s Community Involvement Center, who – with a group of backup dancers – performed a dance mix featured in the recent BobcaThon, which benefits Ronald McDonald House Charities. 
  • Joy Cobb, a student success advisor in the Allen Student Advising Center, who provided insight into how to read the Degree Audit Reporting System, better known as DARS, through a rap accompanied by a PowerPoint presentation. 
  • Daniel Farkas, a lecturer in the Scripps College of Communication’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, who told jokes along with his daughter, Leah, who the crowd nearly unanimously decided was the funnier of the two. 
  • Jessica Hagman, social media coordinator for University Libraries and subject librarian for the Scripps College of Communication, who showed a video on how to make cookies with a toddler.
  • John McCarthy, associate professor of communication sciences and disorders and associate director in the College of Health Sciences and Professions, who sang “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’” from the musical “Oklahoma.”
  • Julie Suhr, a professor of psychology and director of clinical training in the College of Arts and Sciences, who sang “Can’t Help Falling in Love” with her daughter playing the trumpet and their dog, Elvis, howling along.

But there could only be one winner. The judge’s panel, consisting of Jenny Hall-Jones, senior associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students, Jacob “Buddha” Hagman, an academic advisor and advisor for Alpha Phi Omega, and Alex Malcolm, president of OHIO’s chapter of Alpha Phi Omega, declared McCarthy the winner.

“I don’t sing much anymore except for in front of my kids, but when I heard about this opportunity, I said absolutely,” said McCarthy, proudly donning the tiara he received for winning. “It’s a great cause, and I’d do anything for kids.”

While the event is a lot of fun for participants and attendees alike, it also serves a more serious purpose. The philanthropic event began eight years ago in honor of Ava Nichols, a 4-year-old girl who was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. Ava passed away in March 2012, but Alpha Phi Omega continues to celebrate her memory through the annual Ava Nichols’ Faculty Pageant.

All the proceeds from the event benefit Camp Quality Ohio, a non-profit summer camp experience that assists children with cancer and their family members. 

“Last year was a milestone for us,” said Brian Krebs, summer camp director for Camp Quality Ohio, who attended the faculty pageant. “We celebrated our 20th year in the state of Ohio. That wouldn’t have been possible without groups like you guys. We have a lot of support from Ohio University and not just from this event. In the last couple years, we’ve had 14 volunteers from Ohio University, and that’s awesome.”

Ava’s parents were able to attend this year’s pageant and experience the event that honors their daughter. Following a video tribute to Ava, her mother, Traci Nichols, came on stage to thank Alpha Phi Omega and those who attended the pageant. 
 
“The fact that you guys remember her every year—I just want you to know that we really do thank you from the bottom of our hearts,” Traci Nichols said.

“I really enjoyed the event, and I thought the contestants had a lot of fun with it,” said Taylor Ducker, a sophomore majoring in communication sciences and disorders. “I’m an Alpha Phi Omega pledge, so experiencing this event made me even more excited to become an active member of an organization that does this much good.”

Here are some highlights from this year’s pageant:

Dr. John McCarthy sings “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’” from the musical “Oklahoma” during the eighth annual Ava Nichols’ Faculty Pageant.

Dr. John McCarthy sings “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’” from the musical “Oklahoma” during the eighth annual Ava Nichols’ Faculty Pageant.

Event emcees Zach Pine (center) and Josh Brown (right) introduce Dr. Julie Suhr, one of the contestants at the eighth annual Ava Nichols’ Faculty Pageant.

Event emcees Zach Pine (center) and Josh Brown (right) introduce Dr. Julie Suhr, one of the contestants at the eighth annual Ava Nichols’ Faculty Pageant.

Dan Farkas, a lecturer in the Scripps College of Communication’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, and his daughter, Leah, tell jokes during the talent portion of the eighth annual Ava Nichols’ Faculty Pageant.

Dan Farkas, a lecturer in the Scripps College of Communication’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, and his daughter, Leah, tell jokes during the talent portion of the eighth annual Ava Nichols’ Faculty Pageant.

Graduate assistant Joe Brenckle, a contestant in the Ava Nichols’ Faculty Pageant, performs a BobcaThon-inspired dance during the talent portion of the event.

Graduate assistant Joe Brenckle, a contestant in the Ava Nichols’ Faculty Pageant, performs a BobcaThon-inspired dance during the talent portion of the event.

Judges (from left) Alex Malcolm, Jenny Hall-Jones and Jacob Hagman laugh during the talent portion of the eighth annual Ava Nichols’ Faculty Pageant.

Judges (from left) Alex Malcolm, president of OHIO’s chapter of Alpha Phi Omega; Jenny Hall-Jones, senior associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students; and Jacob Hagman, an academic advisor and advisor for Alpha Phi Omega, laugh during the talent portion of the eighth annual Ava Nichols’ Faculty Pageant.

Brian Krebs, summer camp director for Camp Quality Ohio, talks about the camp at the eighth annual Ava Nichols’ Faculty Pageant.

Brian Krebs, summer camp director for Camp Quality Ohio, talks about the camp at the eighth annual Ava Nichols’ Faculty Pageant.

The Tempo Tantrums, Ohio University’s female a cappella group, perform during the eighth annual Ava Nichols’ Faculty Pageant.

The Tempo Tantrums, Ohio University’s female a cappella group, perform during the eighth annual Ava Nichols’ Faculty Pageant.

Traci Nichols, the mother of Ava Nichols, addresses those attending the eighth annual Ava Nichols’ Faculty Pageant, held in honor of her late daughter.

Traci Nichols, the mother of Ava Nichols, addresses those attending the eighth annual Ava Nichols’ Faculty Pageant, held in honor of her late daughter.

Dr. John McCarthy takes the stage after Dr. Jenny Hall-Jones crowned him the winner of the eighth annual Ava Nichols’ Faculty Pageant.

Dr. John McCarthy takes the stage after Dr. Jenny Hall-Jones crowned him the winner of the eighth annual Ava Nichols’ Faculty Pageant.