OCPS's Ericka Dunlap

Ericka Dunlap

A former Miss America is among OCPS notable alumni
A former Miss America is among OCPS notable alumniOCPS alumna Ericka Dunlap dreamed of being Miss America from the time she was 6 years old. With three older sisters, one of whom was in college studying fashion design, she was the perfect “mini model” and developed a love of dressing up and walking the runway at age 3.

She began entering pageants in the first grade, and while she placed in the top 20 during her first outing, she didn’t win. But soon after, she won her first crown. As a self-proclaimed “girly girl” who loved dressing up, Dunlap was hooked. As she continued to compete, her mother started designing and sewing many of her dresses and costumes.

Dunlap attended private school through the eighth grade and traveled the country on the weekends competing in pageants. But she took a break in 1996 when she began as a freshman at Boone High School. Her goal was to have the full high-school experience and prepare for college. At Boone, she was freshman class president and participated in a variety of clubs and organizations.

Photos: Ericka DunlapAs Dunlap began contemplating college at the University of Central Florida, she decided to set her goal on Miss Florida, in part for the scholarship money. She won Miss Orlando in 2001 and Miss Heart of Florida in 2002. Both years she placed in the top 10 for Miss Florida. The following year, after being named Miss City Beautiful, she made it back to Miss Florida and won and went on to become Miss America in 2004.

During her reign, Dunlap traveled the country and the world, entertaining troops in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait, and sharing the importance of diversity and inclusion.
Later, she would realize another dream of hers by co-producing her own country music album. She also appeared on “The Amazing Race 15” with her former husband, placing third.

To inspire, motivate and educate young women to strive for excellence, Dunlap founded the Crown Jewel Foundation. In addition to also providing etiquette and grooming classes to Central Florida youth, she consults with businesses and those needing pageant coaching and executive branding.

Dunlap was inducted into the OCPS Hall of Fame in 2015.
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