UT alumna Miss Texas gains popularity for Trump criticism

Danielle Leighninger

Miss Texas Margana Wood made national headlines Sunday night for her response to a question about President Donald Trump’s reaction to the Charlottesville protest in mid-August.

Wood, a UT alumna, made it to the top five finalists of the Miss America pageant and reached the final question round. During that round, Wood was asked to respond to the president’s statement that there were “very fine people on both sides” of the Charlottesville protest, which turned violent and began a national discussion on white supremacy.

“I think that the white supremacist issue, it was very obvious that it was a terrorist attack,” Wood said in her response. “And I think that President Donald Trump should’ve made a statement earlier addressing the fact and in making sure all Americans feel safe in this country. That is the number one issue right now.”

Wood’s response drew applause from the crowd and has since been shared widely on social media. 

Textiles and apparel senior Ellie Bazil said she appreciated Wood for her brave comment.

“I felt (Wood’s) comment was very powerful,” Bazil said. “I completely disagree with his statement on the Charlottesville protest and I’m glad someone finally called him out.”

Wood’s personal platform from the pageant was “You Belong,” in which she aims to spread the message of inclusion and respect. 

As a victim of bullying in middle school and high school, Wood tried to use her platform to educate audiences of the different kinds of bullying, according to the Miss Texas website. Wood said she looks forward to using her position as Miss Texas to continue to promote her message.

Woods graduated from UT with a degree in corporate communications. Nick Hundley, director of communications at the Moody College of Communications, said he is glad to see how far Wood has come since she graduated. 

“Moody College is proud of Margana Woods’ recent accomplishments as a graduate from the Department of Communications Studies and in her selection as Miss Texas 2017,” Hundley said in an email.

Wood said now that the pageant is over, she plans to go to graduate school to pursue her master’s degree.

“I have secretly always wanted to live in another country,” Wood said in her Miss Texas bio. “After my year of service, I hope to use the scholarship I have earned to continue advancing my education.”