Miss Ohio keeps title

Friday, September 25, 1998


MANSFIELD, Ohio -- Miss Ohio 1999 did not misrepresent herself and will keep her title, the Miss Ohio Board of Trustees said Thursday.

Cheya Watkins, 21, of Evendale told Miss America pageant officials she was a freshman at the University of Cincinnati, majoring in computer science, but UC officials said they have no current record of her.

Chairman Steve Cobb said Thursday that by the board's definition Miss Watkins has been a student at the University of Cincinnati because she had taken classes at a branch campus.

"We define student as someone who has been accepted for enrollment and has participated or intends to participate in academic classes and activities," Mr. Cobb said.

Miss Watkins was a part-time student at the university's Raymond Walters College campus in the fall of 1995, he said.

According to the Raymond Walters College registrar's office, Miss Watkins completed a class in human sexuality in 1995. In 1996, she registered for a freshman English course, but later withdrew. In 1997 she paid a registration fee, but never selected courses. Mr. Cobb said her transcript from the university is clear that she has earned credits toward a degree. He said she will return after she completes her commitment as Miss Ohio.

"Cheya's reputation is important to all of us," Mr. Cobb said. "We wanted to set the record straight. . . . She didn't intend to misrepresent herself."

If Miss Watkins had lost her title, she may have had to forfeit state prizes, including $13,500 to be used for education. She also received $3,800 for winning a preliminary.

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