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Celi Dean hugs her younger sister, Shannaka.

Newly crowned Miss Black USA 2005 Celi Dean takes a moment to pose with her 7-year-old sister, Shannaka.

U student wins Miss Black USA crown

By Bob San and Rick Moore

Published on August 18, 2005

If this is indeed her last pageant, Celi Dean is going out in style. Dean, a junior at the University of Minnesota, was crowned Miss Black USA 2005 on August 7 in Washington, D.C. She overcame 23 other challengers in the pageant to win the title and a $5,000 scholarship. Dean earned the right to compete for the Miss Black USA by winning the Miss Teen Minnesota International in the spring of 2004.

The Miss Black USA Pageant was founded in 1986 to develop leadership among African American women. This year's contest emphasized fitness and health, and each contestant had to present a leadership platform and a plan to make positive changes in the world.

Dean's platform--"Education: A Degree of Importance"--is an issue near and dear to her. Dean is the seventh of 11 children in her family and the first to attend college. An honor student who has made the dean's list numerous times, she is majoring in family social science in the College of Human Ecology after spending two years in General College.

Dean, 20, is active in her community and has been involved with the East YMCA for five years. She was the president of the Black Achievers Youth Group, the youth chair of Y'Partners, a member of Youth in Government, and the 2001 YMCA Youth of the Year. She also mentors a group of young African American girls ages 13-18 in Minneapolis.

Dean graduated from Hill Murray High School as an honor student and was involved in cheerleading, dance, and track. She has also modeled since the age of 6. As the Miss Black USA winner, Dean will be the "new face" model for the Flori Roberts line of cosmetics. She enjoys dancing, music, drawing, and writing poetry, and one day, Dean says in her pageant bio, she plans to publish a book of original poetry.

The book may have to wait for a while, as Dean will be making numerous appearances in the coming year. She'll meet with the Congressional Black Caucus, speak to the Women's Empowerment Conference in Arizona, and travel to Africa, Austria, and the Bahamas. She's also scheduled to meet with U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings.

But other than guest appearances, this may be the end of the runway for Dean when it comes to pageants. Following the coming year's activities, she plans to stick to her platform and turn her full attention to--what else--education.