PASCO -- Quontica Sparks is no quitter, and she has the tiara to prove it.
The Pasco mother of five was recently named Mrs. Black Globe International after competing for the right to wear the Nefertiti crown in a competition held on a cruise in the Bahamas.
Sparks, 33, was one of nine delegates invited to the final, which included women from the Netherlands and both coasts of the United States.
The pageant, which began in 2007, is for married women who are at least a quarter black, Sparks said.
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Qualifying takes a lot of work and includes community appearances. Sparks made 28 appearances as Mrs. Washington Black Globe.
Sparks said she wanted to try something beyond her normal routine and comfort zone.
She works as a substitute teacher co-ordinator for the Pasco School District, goes to church and cares for her children, Deondre, 17, Marlando Jr., 16, NaTajiauna, 13, Elijah, 10, and Hezekiah, 8.
"I had never done anything like this before growing up," said Sparks, who enjoys reading, dancing, Zumba, cooking and attending to her children's activities.
Sparks wasn't sure she was going to be able to attend the Feb. 3-6 competition. She suffered second-degree burns from her waist to her knees when her pressure cooker exploded Dec. 27.
Despite the burns, Sparks said she told her husband of 151/2 years, Marlando Sparks, an associate pastor at Pasco's World Life Christian Center, she was doing it -- even if he had to push her in a wheelchair.
She didn't inform judges of the injury until after the pageant, and they asked her why she hadn't removed her wrap during the swimsuit competition.
For the competition, Sparks went through an interview and competed in multiple categories of dress, including a cocktail gown, evening gown, a fashion piece, swimsuit and a costume representing her region.
Sparks said she wore a purple dress with gold feathers, representing wine country. All of her dresses were from the Purple Parasol in Kennewick.
The pageant's focus on uniting women is something Sparks said she believes in.
Sparks hopes to use her profile as Mrs. Black Globe International to develop Daughters With Destiny, a mentoring group for women she created in 2009. It is designed to help women apply for jobs, find housing and learn budgeting and other life skills.
The 1995 Pasco High School graduate is working toward her business degree through online classes at Portland Community College with plans to transfer to Washington State University Tri-Cities in Richland.
Sparks' platform for the pageant was autism awareness. Her son Elijah was diagnosed at age 4 with Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism, and Sparks hopes to work with the Carson Kolzig Foundation and the Responding to Autism Center in Kennewick.
For the next 12 months, Sparks will appear in her tiara and sash at regional and international events, including Jamaica. Features in magazines and spots on talk shows likely will come her way too.
And next February, she will return to the Bahamas and crown her successor.
But Sparks said she won't have to give up her tiara. That is hers to keep.
* Online: For more information about the pageant, go to www.blackglobepageants.com.