FRIDAY, JANUARY 16
OKLAHOMA CITY – Miss Oklahoma City University Heather Harris is a picture of confidence when she sings on stage or puts on her pageant crown. However, the vocal performance junior didn’t always find it easy to speak up.
As an elementary student in Angleton, Texas, Harris was silent as she was badly bullied. Other students teased her, called her names, formed clubs against her and vandalized her home.
“For two years, I didn’t tell my mom and I didn’t know who to talk to,” she remembered. “But when I finally spoke up, people did listen.”
Harris adopted the anti-bully platform titled “Speak Up, I’ll Listen” at the age of 13 and she proudly carries it today. As Miss Texas’ Outstanding Teen, she enjoyed visiting schools and talking to students from kindergarten to 12th grade about the negative impacts of bullying and the importance of reporting it to adults.
“When I visit schools, the children are my primary focus, but I also take time to visit with the faculty and let them know about my experience,” Harris said. “We must take a stand and listen. We must let victims know they are not alone.”
Harris said she is proud to wear the Miss OCU crown and represent a school that has meant everything to her.
Harris is a student of legendary OCU voice instructor Florence Birdwell. She has studied opera since the age of 14 and came to OCU with dreams of becoming an opera singer. Another of Harris’ goals is to become Miss America and she quickly discovered that OCU could help her achieve both dreams.
“The first time I came to OCU, I saw the Miss America statues and learned about all the support OCU puts into the Miss America system,” she said. “I remember thinking ‘Wow, I can go to OCU and have the best of both worlds.’”
Harris said she has enjoyed becoming a member of the OCU family.
“I am so honored to be here where you really are a name, not just a number,” she said.
Harris said her new role as Miss OCU is beginning to feel like reality.
“I’m just about out of the awe stage of it,” she said. Harris was crowned Nov. 22 and will compete in the Miss Oklahoma pageant this summer.
Harris said she hopes to work on Broadway someday.
“What I enjoy about singing is that I can tell a story,” she said. “Singing is like life and you can’t really sing unless you are free.”
Harris has won a variety of awards for her vocal talents and public speaking skills. She also was a finalist on the television show Gimme the Mike, Houston’s spinoff of American Idol.