Beauty and brains

October 4, 2012

Baylor grad named Miss Texas 2012, one of three Bears in top five

Miss Texas 2012 top five finishers: Christine Tang, BA '12, Natalie Baker, BFA '10, Miss Texas DaNae Couch, BA '10, Adrianna Nelson, Rachael Turner.

When the Miss America 2013 pageant is held in Las Vegas on January 13, the state of Texas will be represented by a Baylor Bear.

Even after winning Miss Texas and continuing the national headline-grabbing success of her alma mater, DaNae Couch, BA '10, of Coppell, is humble.

"It's kind of incredible. As this whole year has unfolded, I was just so excited to say that I was a Baylor alum. It was so great -- and now to be included in that just a little bit is surreal," Couch said. "I feel like Baylor gave me so much. They didn't only give me an education, but showed me how to become a leader and develop a servant leadership attitude."

While at Baylor, Couch, an English major and public relations minor, was a twirler in the Golden Wave Band, a member of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, Baylor Ambassadors and Student Foundation, and a part of the Honors Program.

"I did a lot of lobbying in Baylor Ambassadors and Student Foundation. Because I was in the Honors Program, I had to defend my thesis my senior year. That really tests your ability to articulately express yourself and speak cohesively in a short period of time. That helped a lot with Miss Texas, because you're out in the community and talking to people," she said.

Couch, who was named Miss Texas 2012 on July 7, began competing in pageants as a way to earn scholarship money while at Baylor. Less than a year away from obtaining her law degree from Texas Tech University, she will continue with her studies after her reign as Miss Texas, and hopes to do so debt free.

Couch has garnered approximately $30,000 in scholarships thus far from competing. She views her travels as Miss Texas as an opportunity to push for more scholarships for Miss Texas participants, and more importantly, spread her message about addiction.

"My personal platform is Hope for Family Recovery: Life Beyond Addiction," said Couch, who also holds the Miss Dallas title. "It is something that is close to my heart this year. I know someone personally who was struggling with addiction. It is hard, because people don't have as much awareness about addiction as we would like to think."

Couch said that she will spend the majority of the year talking in schools, discussing how to recognize the signs of addiction and how to get help for those who need it.

Couch, however, wasn't the only Baylor graduate on the stage at the pageant, as two other Bears were selected in the top five. Miss Fort Worth, Natalie Baker, BFA '10, was the second runner up, and Miss Plano, Christine Tang, BA '12, was the fourth runner up.

Baker graduated with a 4.0 GPA and has taught high school for the past two years. She will graduate with her master's degree in December, and she hopes to eventually get her doctorate and work in school administration.

Tang graduated in May, and began law school at SMU in August.

Couch said that she knew Tang prior to the pageant through similar interests and the Greek system, but did not know Baker beforehand. All three, however, became quite close during the competition.

"One of the things that most people don't know is that the contestants lived together this year. It was a great opportunity to get to know each other," Couch said. "It really just made me realize that all 39 women competing this year are so talented and gifted. They are going to change the world, if they haven't started already."

Outside of the top five contestants, there were even more Baylor connections to this year's competition. Former pageant contestant Melissa Merriman, BBA '05, now director of communications for Dillard's and the Jessica Simpson brand, helped to bring the companies together as partners with the Miss Texas Organization. As a part of winning, Couch received a new car from Grubbs Infiniti in Euless, owned by George Grubbs III, BBA '96.

Reigning Miss Texas DaNae Couch, BA '10, joined the cast of Baylor alumni, students and faculty in the production of this year's university television commercial. The commercial will run during each televised athletic event and in various athletic venues.(photo by Randy Woodruff)

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