5 On Your Side

Wake student finally receives pageant prize, but not without frustration

Posted February 12, 2015 6:00 p.m. EST
Updated February 12, 2015 6:43 p.m. EST

— A Wake County student who was crowned Miss Black USA Talented Teen in 2012 says she has finally received her scholarship winnings but not without some frustration. 

WRAL's 5 On Your Side reported on Naya Coard's story on Jan. 21. She had the crown, the trophy and the title, just not the $2,500 scholarship.

Miss Black USA Talented Teen promised her the winnings for use at Spelman College for the 2013-14 academic year, but Naya said in January that she still hadn't received the money. 

“It’s really frustrating,” she said. “I currently have a hold on my account, and I’m applying for internships and I’m applying for different scholarships, and they ask me for my unofficial transcript. And the fact that I have a hold on my account doesn’t allow me to get my unofficial transcript from the school or online.”

Naya's mom, Stephanie Irby Coard, called 5 on Your Side after going back and forth with pageant staff about the scholarship for more than a year and a half. 

"I feel as if they're just waiting for me to forget about this or somehow just go away, but I'm not, because it's not right,” she said. “We have documentation saying that she is going to get it. We have documentation showing that it was sent but never received. We have documentation saying it will be re-issued. We have dates. We have deadlines. They just never get met.”

After 5 On Your Side's story aired, pageant spokeswoman Renee Stallworth emailed claiming, among other things, that the organization did not pay the money because Naya did not meet the scholarship conditions until last June. When asked what those conditions were, Stallworth would not say. She also wouldn't explain why the scholarship wasn't paid then.

Naya's mother said she doesn't understand Stallworth's response. She pointed to a letter from the organization a year and a half ago, saying the money would be paid. No flags were ever raised in any of the multiple emails pageant officials exchanged with the Coards, all of which said the payment was being processed.

Finally, Miss Black USA sent a cashier's check directly to Spelman College last week.

Naya's mom said she is thrilled her daughter finally got the scholarship she won two and a half years ago. She thanked 5 On Your Side for helping her daughter get the money.

"I truly believe if it wasn't for you, we would have never received Naya's scholarship money," she said.

Stallworth, the pageant's spokeswoman, said in an email to 5 On Your Side that "the matter is now resolved and we wish Ms. Coard a successful academic year."