Photo by Jay Paul
In addition to working full time as a human resources manager at a local IT consulting firm, maintaining a 4.0 grade point average as a part-time student at Virginia Commonwealth University and being a mother to her 4-year-old son, Jennifer Gray volunteers with Special Olympics Virginia, the Autism Society of Central Virginia, Greater Richmond SCAN (Stop Child Abuse Now) and many more organizations.
"My sash always has stains on it because I'm out here working in it," the 25-year-old from eastern Henrico County says with a laugh. In August, Gray will compete as Miss Virginia Essence at the Essence Pageant in Washington. She says of her role in the pageant, "It gives you a platform to get out there and really work in your community and have people take notice." Other local residents participating in the national competition are Niasia Ellis, 15, of Richmond as Miss Virginia Teen Essence; Tinitra Torian, 24, of Chesterfield County as Miss Lover's State Essence; LaFonda Parham, 33, of Henrico as Mrs. Virginia Essence; and Maria Beall, 47, of Chesterfield as Ms. Classic Virginia Essence.