A Quarter-Century After Being Named the First Black Miss America, Vanessa Williams Graduates From College

In 1983 Vanessa Williams, a student at Syracuse University, became the first black woman to win the title of Miss America. The Miss America pageant claims to be the largest provider of college scholarships to American women. But Williams never took full advantage of her scholarship opportunities. Nine months into her reign as Miss America Williams resigned the title after nude photographs of her surfaced and were subsequently published without Williams’ authorization in Penthouse magazine.

Williams left college and started an extremely successful career as an actress, singer, songwriter, and commercial spokesperson. Now 45 years old, Williams stars in the hit ABC television series Ugly Betty.

While pursuing her many faceted career, Williams finally found the time to complete her degree requirements. She was awarded a bachelor of fine arts degree at the Syracuse University commencement this spring.