Picturesque Pageant: Through the technical hiccups, blinding spotlights and treacherous staircases, contestants demonstrate poise and grace

The set was reminiscent of a Broadway production as many beautiful and talented women on campus competed for the coveted honor of Miss Mary Hardin-Baylor. For this year’s theme, “Bright Lights, Big City,” the Chapel was decorated with many colorful lights and small cutouts of familiar skylines. Large spotlights lit up the night sky.

The 2009 pageant was sponsored by the Campus Activities Board and was a student-led production in which young women on campus represented organizations, classes or resident halls in competition. Alumni judges were asked to rate the contestants based on their interview, evening gown and individual talent performance.

Photo by Janie Wayland, The Bells

“I’m really proud of all of the girls. They did a great job,” Mike McCarthy, director of campus activities, said. “You fall in love with all of the girls, and although it sounds cliché, when the night gets here, you want them all to win. The biggest reward for me is just to see them all do what they do well. Everyone did a great job.”

Senior art education major Allison Daniel was this year’s pageant director.

“I think (pageant) exceeded every expectation,” she said. “It was really cool after all was said and done, and after all our work, to just sit and watch each of these girls shine.”

Daniel said the most common question she was asked during the pageant was who she thought would win.

“Honestly, out of the girls we have, I could not pick one,” she said. “Every time I would think that one of the girls was pulling ahead of the rest, all of the other girls would step up and do just as well. I would’ve been pleased with any of these girls as Miss MHB.”

Photo by Janie Wayland, The Bells

This year’s winner, sophomore vocal performance major Brianna Edwards, said she had no idea that she would receive this honor. The McLane Hall representative said her original goals were to meet a lot of new people, make a lot of new friends and hopefully get to learn something in the process.

“Now I’m standing on the stage with a heavy crown on my head,” she said. “It’s kind of surreal. I feel like the best description of this moment would be the scene in Talladega Nights when Will Ferrell wins the race and doesn’t know what to do with his hands. It’s kind of like that.”

Edwards’ platform was “Empowering Students to Achieve Boldness.”

“I want to talk to Shawn Shannon at the Baptist Student Ministry and set up actual courses to teach students boldness before they are sent out on the mission field,” she said. “So many times, students get caught up in this bubble of UMHB, and then as soon as we leave, we expect everything to be the same, and it’s not.”

Edwards said that she looks forward to her reign with excitement.

“I have a lot of little goals that I have for this upcoming year,” she said. “I’ve gotten to know each of these girls, and I would love to get at least part of each of their platforms involved here on campus. Each of them had the boldness to step up on stage and stand up for something that they are passionate about. I believe those passions are God ordained, too, and I don’t want what God has put on their hearts to end with pageant.”

Photo by Katelyn Dean, The Bells

Sophomore psychology major Amanda Clemmons, Miss Campus Activities Board,  was this year’s winner of best talent, performing Rogers and Hammerstein’s “In My Own Little Corner” from the film Cinderella.

Sarah Potter, Miss Junior Class, was 1st runner up. Kristen Grogan, Miss Gettys Hall, was 2nd runner up. Allison Hankins, Miss Student Foundation, was 3rd runner up. Erica Jackson, Miss Beall Hall, was 4th runner up. Miss Freshman class, Corbin Simmons, received two awards: best evening gown and best interview. Miss Congeniality went to Brittany Tice, Miss Baptist Student Ministry.

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