“Here’s to the ones who dream, foolish as they may seem.” No quote could be more fitting for this year’s Miss Mary Hardin-Baylor pageant theme, which is derived from the 2016 rom-com film “La La Land.”
Nineteen female students representing various organizations and campus buildings took to the stage to showcase their talents and passions. The pageant was split into numerous sections, such as the talent competition, special talent presentation, group dance, evening gown walk, behind the scenes video, and interviews of the top five finalists. In addition, the women were judged according to four categories – interview, talent, platform, and evening gown.
The person behind the pageant was Alexis Goddard, a senior social work major.
“I have loved the process of pageant,” Goddard said. “The audience only gets to see the final production, which is awesome, but it’s really fun to be there for every comical, creative, and captivating moment,” Goddard said. “Seeing the unique growth in each girl is what this pageant is all about. Being the director has reminded me that it truly takes a village to make this tradition happen.
Going into it, I had the mindset of ‘okay, I’ve got to do this, this and this,’ but if I tried to do it all on my own, the show would go horribly wrong,” she said.
“There are a million moving parts involved and I have had the most talented team surrounding me.”
Some of these talents featured spoken word, interpretive dances, musical skills such as singing and piano performance, and skits. Jordan Eilers, a senior English education major, represented an organization called Circle K, and performed a skit about a story close to her heart, called “Pinkalicious.” She chose this story because her platform is engaging struggling learners through reading.
“My favorite part has definitely been getting to know all the girls and making friends with people I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to meet,” Eilers said.
Senior Criminal Justice and psychology major Kelly Taylor represented Campus Activities Board. She performed a comedic skit about wrapping Christmas presents.
“Getting to know the other 18 amazing girls has definitely been my favorite part,” Taylor said. “Everyone is so encouraging and uplifting and they brighten my day at every practice.”
In addition, the contestants performed group dances to “La La Land” songs such as “Someone in the Crowd” and “A Lovely Night.” After the group dances came the evening gown walk. The women entered the stage in stunning dresses, and were escorted by male students as their background was described by the hosts.
The judges came to a decision about the top five finalists: Miss Student Foundation, Madison Henry, a sophomore pre-occupational therapy major; Miss Baptist Student Ministry, Lynsey May, a senior Public Relations major; Miss Independence Village, Scarlett Jetty, a senior education major; Miss Phi Alpha, Briana Frederickson, a senior social work major; and Miss McLane Hall, Hannah DeFranco, a junior marketing major. All took to the stage as the remaining contestants.
The women went through an interview process. They had to answer a series of two questions, one relating to their platform. One of the finalists, Frederickson, performed an original song and played on the piano. Her question was about how she worked through the song writing process.
“The song writing process is quite frustrating, to be honest,” Frederickson said with a simple laugh. “I’ll just grab whatever paper’s lying around and write a song here or there. Eventually, I try to make sense of all the words that I’ve written, however, the part that I like the best is when I see it all come together. I feel that in a way that represents how I’ve come together over the years. There’s so many parts of me that have been broken, yet God has been able to take them all and put them together, and so the song writing process to me purely represents that.”
Frederickson was also asked about her platform, domestic violence-breaking the cycle, and why she chose it.
“I believe that there are three things that everyone can do, regardless of what they do, or where they are at in their lives,” she said. “Number one is know the signs. If you see something, or observe that someone that you know is having to ask for permission for the smallest things, or they are becoming more isolated, these are some of the warning signs. Number two, see something, say something. If you see something that genuinely makes you worried, it’s better to report it, better to be safe than sorry… And number three, confide to a listening ear. If you have the opportunity to befriend somebody who is able to come to you in their time of need… you can then lead them to resources to help them rebuild their lives.”
In the end, Frederickson dazzled the judges and the audiences with her overall performance, and took the crown as the new reigning Miss Mary Hardin-Baylor of 2018. The show was just another day of sun on the UMHB campus.