In her first "real" pageant, Sharla Goates-Fultz '02 walked away with a crown and the perfect platform for inspiring young people. As Mrs. Arkansas 2013, she will represent Arkansas in the 2013 Mrs. America pageant in Tucson, Ariz.
Sharla Goates-Fultz, a 2002 Ozarks graduate, was crowned Mrs. Arkansas 2013 during the annual pageant, held Oct. 12 in Hot Springs, Ark.
Fultz, who has been teaching elementary school in Clarksville for the last 10 years, graduated from Ozarks in 2002 before going on to earn a master’s degree in teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) from Arkansas Tech University.
Two years before she graduated from Ozarks, Fultz lost her father to a massive heart attack. In her grief, she took a semester away from college and passed the time substitute teaching. It was that experience that first sparked a desire to impact the lives of young people.
"It was my experience as a substitute that led me to teaching," Fultz said. "I’ve been told I’m a natural born teacher. Since graduating from Ozarks, I taught 4th grade for four years, then 2nd grade for the last six. I love it."
Fultz may have a wealth of experience helping young people develop positive and goal-oriented attitudes, which would eventually become her platform, but her background doesn’t include pageants, an unusual occurrence for the winner of such a prestigious crown.
"I competed in the Miss U of O pageant my freshmen or sophomore year. I had no clue what I was doing. This is the first ‘real’ pageant I have ever done," Fultz admitted. "Naturally, I was shocked when I won."
Fultz also won Mrs. Congeniality and the swimsuit competition during the Mrs. Arkansas Pageant on Oct. 12 in Hot Springs. She said she decided to sign up and compete for Mrs. Arkansas 2013 after meeting Michelle Flake, Mrs. Arkansas 2012.
"I met Michelle Flake, who won Mrs. Arkansas in 2012 and 2010, at the Miss Arkansas Pageant in July. She convinced me to sign up and compete. It was such a rewarding experience, but a lot of hard work," Fultz explained.
"For me, the tough part was the interview. It was so intimidating. My favorite part was getting to know all the other girls. I made a lot of new friends that I plan to keep," she said.
Fultz is scheduled to represent Arkansas in the Mrs. America pageant next August in Tucson, Ariz.
"I’m a little nervous and excited about the Mrs. America Pageant," she said. "But, I know that my wonderful director, Lynn DeJarnette, and Michelle Flake, who has become a good friend, will make sure that I am ready to compete at the national level."
"I’ll do my best, and we’ll see what happens," she smiled.
Fultz lives in Clarksville with her husband, Josh, her son Rhett,7, and her daughter, Analeise, 4.