The Oklahoma State Senate honored two special Oklahomans today in the Senate Chamber. The Senate presented resolutions recognizing the accomplishments and talents of Jenks High School graduate Jennifer Berry, Miss America 2006 and Edmond resident Jennifer Warren, Miss Oklahoma 2005
Senate Concurrent Resolution 36, authored by Jenks-area Senators Nancy Riley, Mike Mazzei and James A. Williamson along with Rep. Ron Peters, congratulated Jennifer Berry for her victory at the Miss America competition last month in Las Vegas, Nevada. Senate Concurrent Resolution 41, authored by Sen. Clark Jolley and Rep. Marian Cooksey, commended Jennifer Warren for her many talents and for being chosen as Miss Oklahoma 2005.
"With their busy schedules, we were thrilled to able to congratulate both of these fine young women in person and recognize them for their many accomplishments. We are so honored that they could join us in the Senate for this special presentation," said Riley. "They are outstanding Oklahomans and we are very proud of them. These resolutions were just our small way of saying congratulations and giving them the recognition they deserve for all of their hard work and dedication."
Berry relinquished her Miss Oklahoma title to first runner-up Jennifer Warren when she was crowned Miss America on January 21, 2006 at the Aladdin Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. Over the next year, Berry will be leading a nationwide campaign against drunk driving and underage drinking in the memory of a friend who was killed in an alcohol-related car wreck when Jennifer was fifteen. Since that time, she has become an avid volunteer and spokesperson for Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and is currently a member of Project Under 21. She will travel 20,000 miles a month across the country in the next year fulfilling her duties as Miss America and speaking to people about the dangers of alcohol, making good decisions and creating healthy lifestyles.
"Jennifer's message against drunk driving and underage drinking is such an important one for our young people and even adults who don't always use the best judgment," said Mazzei. "We want to wish her the best in this effort and let her know that we are behind her one-hundred-percent."
Berry is the fifth Oklahoman to be crowned Miss America. Other winners have included Shawntel Smith of Muldrow in 1996, Susan Powell of Elk City in 1981, Jane Jayroe of Laverne in 1967 and Norma Smallwood of Tulsa in 1926.
"Jennifer follows a long line of excellence in Oklahoma and we are very proud of her for that," said Williamson. "Her story of perseverance and determination is an inspiration to us all. She is a truly wonderful role model for girls and young women everywhere and I can't think of a better representative to display the spirit of Oklahoma to the rest of the nation."
A 2001 graduate of Jenks High School, Berry is a senior at the University of Oklahoma majoring in Elementary Education. She has been on both the University of Oklahoma's Dean's Honor Roll and the President's Honor Roll. She is a member of the Student Oklahoma Education Association and a recent Committee Board member of the University’s Think If You Drink alcohol education program. She also studies with the highly acclaimed University of Oklahoma School of Dance. Since discovering her love of dance at the age of three, she has studied with such prestigious companies as The Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle, The Peoria Ballet in Illinois, The Tulsa Ballet and the David Howard Dance Center out of New York. After graduation, she plans on getting a Master's Degree in Education and becoming an elementary school teacher.
The new Miss Oklahoma, Jennifer Warren is a nursing graduate from the University of Central Oklahoma who is currently pursuing her Masters of Business Administration at Oklahoma City University. While at UCO, she was a member of the nursing honor society Sigma Theta Tau, the Student Nursing Association, the National Student Nurse's Association and the varsity pom squad. She was also a four-year member of the Dean's Honor Roll and a 2003 member of the National Dean's List.
During her reign, she will be working to bring awareness to Oklahoma's high teenage pregnancy rate. She will be advocating pregnancy prevention through strong character development, goal setting and getting young women involved in areas of interest to them.
"Jennifer's message is unfortunately one that is not stressed enough in Oklahoma. We do have a serious problem of children having children and we need to work to end this tragic trend in our state," said Jolley. "I applaud her for her efforts and wish her the best over the next year and in all her future endeavors. I know she will do great things."
Following the presentations, Berry and Warren were joined by family, friends, legislative staff and fans for a reception in the Senate Lounge.