On Saturday, March 2, the University of New Haven held an official preliminary to the Miss Connecticut Pageant. Three titles were given that night: Miss Shoreline, Miss New Haven County and Miss University of New Haven. Miss Shoreline and Miss New Haven County were open to any women aged 17 to 24 who live, work or attend school in the state. The Miss University of New Haven title was a closed competition to only students of the University. The winners of these titles will be competing in June for the title of Miss Connecticut in hopes of participating in Miss America. This pageant was put together and run by Ashley Abate, an admissions counselor at the university.
Here’s a look behind the scenes at what actually takes place for these women.
Competing for a pageant is not something that can be done overnight; it takes months of practice and coaching to be ready to compete in the fast-paced competition. The girls must have a resume, headshot and a platform for an issue they feel strongly impacts their generation. While the show may have started at 7 p.m. for everyone else, the girls competing arrived on campus at 9 a.m. to start prepping. For many of the girls, their days started even earlier, waking up as early as 5 a.m. to prepare their hair and makeup.
At 9 a.m., the women showed up with garment bags filled with dresses, interview suits, talent costumes and swim suits. Duffle bags were also in tow, filled with makeup, hair products, multiple pairs of high heels and other pageant essentials such as butt glue. The girls began their morning learning an opening number routine and walking patterns for the evening. Then after a few hours of practice, it was lunch time. After getting time to get to know each other and getting fed, it was off to Dodds Theater to get ready for competition and a little more practice.
With only a short time to prepare for the first part of competition (the interviews), the girls fixed their hair and makeup and got dressed in their suits. The interview portion consists of one contestant in front of the panel of judges. The contestant has nine minutes to answer the questions the judges present. These questions can vary about anything from current politics, personal views and the contestant’s platform. After this portion, the girls quickly changed into their regular clothes to do a run-through of their talents, their last chance to be on stage before the competition really began.
As people began to filter into Dodds Theater, the contestants were fixing their hair and makeup with the help of Daniela Marie. They were dressed with current titleholders, and mothers helped zip dresses and gave last minute advice. The show started with all female members of the Army ROTC as color guard and the current Connecticut’s Outstanding Teen Janie Coann LeFebvre singing the National Anthem.
The contestants started the show with a dance number to “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend,” which was immediately followed by an on-stage question relating to each contestant’s personal platform. As soon as this was over, the girls quickly ran to change into their talent outfit. The talents preformed varied from dancing, gymnastics, singing, baton twirling and playing musical instruments.
There was then a short intermission where current titleholders preformed a tap dance and gymnastics routine. The contestants came back on stage to model their swimsuits; the suits varied in styles and color, allowing contestants to show off their own personal style.
Then the evening continued with the formal wear portion of the evening. A member of the UNH Army ROTC escorted the girls. All the girls concluded the evening with a final walk in their formal wear gowns.
The awards began with a very special award given to the contestant who raised the most money for Miss America for Kids, which went to the Children’s Miracle Network. This was awarded to Lauren Fernandez who raised $425 dollars. There were also awards for top interview and top talent. The recipient of this award for the New Haven County was given to Ashley Hamel for interview. The University of New Haven recipients were Lauren Fernandez for interview and Kaleigh McIver for talent.
The overall title winners received $3,000 annual scholarships to the University of New Haven. Two titles were awarded to Outstanding Teenagers. For the Miss Shoreline East, it was Ashley Hamel with her platform of Global Literacy. For Miss New Haven County it was Amaryllis Rodriguez with her personal platform of the Make a Wish Foundation. Finally, Miss University of New Haven was Lindsay Bugryn with her personal platform of Random of Acts of Kindness.
A special thanks goes to Louise Abate, Ashley Reed, the University of New Haven Undergraduate Student Government Association, Kappa Gamma Rho, Army ROTC, University of New Haven Admissions and anyone else who donated time for their support in putting on this pageant. If you would like to donate money to the Miss America for Kids you can go to http://www.missamericaforkids.org