Faith, family and persistence have helped Morgan Warren reach greater heights.
That and her ability to sing beautiful songs from the heart.
Combining poise and grace, the 20-year-old Auburn woman shone brightly last Saturday night to capture the crown at the Miss Auburn Scholarship Program.
For Warren, it all came together in her third try at seizing the tiara.
“This means so much to me,” Warren said after receiving a wave of congratulatory hugs and kisses on the Lindbloom Center stage at Green River Community College. “I’m so excited to be able to be in the community, being a representative of Auburn, being able to go to state.”
Having prevailed against 13 other contestants in two nights of competition, Warren, a sophomore at the college, won nearly $7,000 in gifts and scholarships.
She automatically qualifies for the Miss Washington Pageant later this year. The Miss Auburn program, one of the largest of its kind in the country, is an official preliminary to the Miss Washington and Miss America scholarship pageants.
Heather Haggin was first runner-up, followed by Haley Henrickson (second runner-up) and Sarah Gleason (third-runner-up).
Lake Tapps’ Keely Franchini, 13, an eighth-grader at North Tapps Middle School, took the Miss Auburn Outstanding Teen competition. Amanda Enz was first runner-up.
The last to perform on stage in the talent segment, Warren stood out. Her classically-trained alto voice wowed the audience with “Habanera” from the opera “Carmen.” Her performance, worth 35 percent of the total score from the judges, was a big boost.
Warren is passionate about singing.
“It’s everything to me because that’s how I express myself,” she said. “You can portray so many emotions through music, and that’s why I just love singing.”
Warren, daughter of Penni and Bobby Warren, was third runner-up a year ago and fifth runner-up in 2013.
She returned to the stage this year much improved and better prepared.
“I really thought that this was my year. I was ready for it,” Warren said. “The past two years I’ve been growing and learning. I just think that this was the year. I’m so glad that they crowned me.”
Warren said her confidence comes from her faith-filled upbringing, which included early years of performing in her church choir.
“It all has to do with my faith,” she said. “I’m a Christian, and I believe 100 percent that it’s God behind me. He’s the one who goes on stage with me, and He’s the one who’s in the back room, too. He never leaves me.”
Warren performed on the platform issue of: Supporting Positive Body Image in Young Women.
“I’m excited to be a part of the community. I’m excited to talk to the women about my platform,” Warren said. “I’m ready.”
After she’s earned her associate degree, Warren plans to transfer to an in-state college and complete a degree in elementary education.
The Kiwanis Club of Auburn is her sponsor. Hannah Merritt is as her Little Sister.
In the teen competition, Franchini topped three other contestants. A member of the Allegro Performing Arts Academy, Franchini tap danced to “My Feet Can’t Fail Me Now.” She has been dancing for 10 years, following the footsteps of her mother, who also tap danced.
“It’s such a great opportunity to get out into the community. I am so thankful for this opportunity,” Franchini said of earning the title.
Franchini, daughter of Stacy and Brian Franchini, ran on a platform in support of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. She performed in honor of a close friend, Nick Konkler, an Auburn Riverside student who is fighting cancer.
HBT Insurance is Franchini’s sponsor. Lacee Williams is her Little Princess.
The Lindbloom Center served as a temporary home for the pageant while the Auburn Performing Arts Center is being renovated. Program officials expect to usher in the new-look venue next year. … The crowd raised more than $2,300 for the Auburn Food Bank
Photo below: Lake Tapps’ Keely Franchini reacts after hearing she had won the Miss Auburn Outstanding Teen crown. Rachel Ciampi, Reporter