Whitney Roach, a Northeastern State University sophomore from Tahlequah, is the 2018-19 Miss Cherokee.
Roach, 20, was crowned Saturday during the annual leadership competition at Cornerstone Fellowship Church in Tahlequah.
As Miss Cherokee, Roach will represent the Cherokee Nation as a goodwill ambassador to promote the government, history, language and culture of the tribe for the next year. She also receives a $3,000 scholarship.
“The role of Miss Cherokee has long reflected the best qualities of our Cherokee youth, and I believe Whitney Roach will admirably fulfill her duties as a Cherokee ambassador,” Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “Whitney will travel across not only Oklahoma, but the United States, educating people of all ages and from all walks of life about the Cherokee Nation, its people, its culture and its history. She will no doubt leave a lasting impression, and I look forward to working with her.”
Roach is the daughter of George and Lisa Roach. She is majoring in cellular and molecular biology at NSU and hopes to one day be a physician for the Cherokee Nation.
Roach competed against six other young women for the Miss Cherokee crown. The Miss Cherokee Leadership Competition judges contestants on their use of the Cherokee language, cultural and platform presentations, and responses to impromptu questions.
“That moment I was announced as the new Miss Cherokee, there are literally no words to describe it,” Roach said. “It was unreal. I’ve been involved in the Cherokee Nation my whole life. I grew up here. I grew up working the powwow, I was in Tribal Youth Council and the choir, and all of those experiences really made me into the person I am today.”
For her cultural presentation during the Miss Cherokee Leadership Competition, Roach presented a story, “The Legend of the Kingfisher.” Her platform is the preservation of traditional stories.
“I picked the preservation of traditional stories because I grew up with all these stories that were told to me to help me learn morals and important lessons,” Roach said. “That’s honestly what shaped me into who I am. I don’t see as many Cherokee storytellers as there once were, but hopefully now there will be one more person to share more of our heritage, our culture and our stories.”
Miss Cherokee first runner-up was Meekah Roy, 21, of Salina, who earned a $2,000 scholarship. The second runner-up was Madison Shoemaker, 20, of Muskogee, who earned a $1,000 scholarship.