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OMSAR staffer crowned the winner of ninth annual Ava Nichols’ Faculty Pageant (PHOTOS)


Ohio University faculty and staff delivered another round of pageantry, entering the audience at the ninth annual Ava Nichols’ Faculty Pageant, sponsored by OHIO’s chapter of the Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity.

Held Feb. 21 in the Baker University Center Ballroom, the Ava Nichols’ Faculty Pageant honors the event’s namesake, a 4-year-old girl from Marietta, Ohio, who was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. While Ava passed away shortly after the 2012 pageant, Alpha Phi Omega continues the tradition in her memory and as a means of raising funds for Camp Quality Ohio, a non-profit summer camp experience and year-round support system for children with cancer and their families. Representatives from Camp Quality Ohio again attended this year’s pageant, sharing information about the organization’s summer camp and attributing its success over the past 22 years in part to efforts like those put forward by OHIO’s chapter of Alpha Phi Omega.

Six OHIO faculty and staff members participated in this year’s pageant, competing in a new take on the formal wear round, a talent show and a question-and-answer session. During the formal wear round, contestants were challenged to “create” a look, in 10 minutes and with the help of Alpha Phi Omega members, out of tablecloths, hula hoops and streamers.

This year’s contestants, including several faces new to the event, showcased a plethora of talents, including:

  • Melissa Figueroa, an assistant professor who teaches Spanish, gave a cultural presentation on her native country, Puerto Rico, in a short, “creepy” story titled “¡Asalto!”
  • Jacob “Buddha” Hagman, an academic advisor in the School of Nursing, and his son, Judah, read a book titled “We Are in a Book!” 
  • Dave Lawrence, a lecturer in the Spanish department, performed in a six-piece band with multiple vocalists
  • Scott Miller, the resident director in Housing and Residence Life, delivered a stand-up comedy routine, centered on his likeness to B.J. Novak (Ryan Howard from “The Office”).
  • Thomas Raimondi, assistant director of leadership and scholar development in the Office of Multicultural Student Access and Retention (OMSAR), dubbed himself a “professional ice-breaker,” delivering a performance in which he encouraged audience members to talk to someone they were unfamiliar with and practice “laughter yoga” exercises.
  • Julie Suhr, a professor of psychology, performed “spalking” and “spinging” – spell-talking and spell-singing – as she effortlessly spelled every word she sang and spoke, asking the judges to “spalk” back to her.

The evening also featured a performance by the Tempo Tantrums, OHIO’s all-female a cappella group, who performed songs by Khalid and HAIM.

This year’s pageant was judged by former contestant Jenny Hall-Jones, senior associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students; Mike “Dog Shack” Carson, a local business owner; and Rachel Nagy, president of OHIO’s chapter of Alpha Phi Omega. The judges crowned Suhr as runner-up and Raimondi as the winner of the event. 

“This was a blast,” Raimondi said in accepting the event’s crown. “Thank you for inviting me and laughing with me!”

Tickets to the ninth annual Ava Nichols’ Faculty Pageant, along with four basket raffles and the sale of a plethora of vintage “APhiO” gear, raised approximately $800 for Camp Quality Ohio.

First-year Alpha Phi Omega member Caroline Saracina said that the event was everything she had hoped it would be. 

“I was curious about it,” she said. “It was great to learn more about the organization and have the opportunity to see faculty and staff that were willing to participate for the cause.”

Here are some memorable moments from this year’s pageant:

Scott Miller, resident director of Washington Hall, gets “dressed” with the help of Alpha Phi Omega volunteers for the formal attire round of the Ava Nichols’ Faculty Pageant.

Scott Miller, resident director of Washington Hall, gets “dressed” with the help of Alpha Phi Omega volunteers for the formal attire round of the Ava Nichols’ Faculty Pageant.

Melissa Figueroa, an assistant professor of Spanish, shows off her “formal wear” during the ninth annual Ava Nichols’ Faculty Pageant.

Melissa Figueroa, an assistant professor of Spanish, shows off her “formal wear” during the ninth annual Ava Nichols’ Faculty Pageant.

Jacob “Buddha” Hagman, an academic advisor in OHIO’s School of Nursing, reads a book on stage with his son, Judah, during the talent portion of the Ava Nichols’ Faculty Pageant.

Jacob “Buddha” Hagman, an academic advisor in OHIO’s School of Nursing, reads a book on stage with his son, Judah, during the talent portion of the Ava Nichols’ Faculty Pageant.

Thomas Raimondi, assistant director of leadership and scholar development in the Office of Multicultural Student Access and Retention, holds a carnation in his mouth and stretches while he is introduced as an Ava Nichols’ Faculty Pageant contestant.

Thomas Raimondi, assistant director of leadership and scholar development in the Office of Multicultural Student Access and Retention, holds a carnation in his mouth and stretches while he is introduced as an Ava Nichols’ Faculty Pageant contestant.

Audience members laugh and dance during Raimondi’s “ice breaker” performance.

Audience members laugh and dance during Raimondi’s “ice breaker” performance.

Alexis Moore, emcee at the ninth annual Ava Nichols’ Faculty Pageant, reads a series of “Would you rather” questions to the contestants during the question-and-answer portion of the evening.

Alexis Moore, emcee at the ninth annual Ava Nichols’ Faculty Pageant, reads a series of “Would you rather” questions to the contestants during the question-and-answer portion of the evening.

(From left) David Lawrence, a lecturer in the Spanish department; Julie Suhr, a professor of psychology; and Melissa Figueroa, an assistant professor of Spanish, laugh on stage during the pageant.

(From left) David Lawrence, a lecturer in the Spanish department; Julie Suhr, a professor of psychology; and Melissa Figueroa, an assistant professor of Spanish, laugh on stage during the pageant.

This year’s Ava Nichols’ Faculty Pageant judges (from left) Jenny Hall-Jones, Rachel Nagy and Mike “Dog Shack” Carson react to a contestant’s talent performance.

This year’s Ava Nichols’ Faculty Pageant judges (from left) Jenny Hall-Jones, senior associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students; Rachel Nagy, president of OHIO’s chapter of Alpha Phi Omega; and Mike “Dog Shack” Carson, a local business owner, react to a contestant’s talent performance.

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

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

Thomas Raimondi, assistant director of leadership and scholar development in the Office of Multicultural Student Access and Retention, waves to the crowd after being crowned the winner of the ninth annual Ava Nichols’ Faculty Pageant.

Thomas Raimondi, assistant director of leadership and scholar development in the Office of Multicultural Student Access and Retention, waves to the crowd after being crowned the winner of the ninth annual Ava Nichols’ Faculty Pageant.

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To learn more about Alpha Phi Omega membership and service opportunities in Ohio University’s chapter, email membership.aphiodeltagamma@gmail.com or service.aphiodeltagamma@gmail.com.