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Four women represent the university

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Miss Southeastern Louisiana University Alyssa Larose won the $500 Non-Finalist scholarship.

Miss Southeastern Louisiana University Alyssa Larose won the $500 Non-Finalist scholarship.

Annie Goodman

Annie Goodman

Miss Southeastern Louisiana University Alyssa Larose won the $500 Non-Finalist scholarship.

Annie Goodman, News Editor

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At the 2018 Miss Louisiana Pageant, four women represented the university. Along with 2018 Miss Southeastern Louisiana University Alyssa Larose, two former Miss SLUs and a freshman at the university competed.

Larose, a junior special education major, competed in her first pageant when she was a toddler. 

She explained how that early introduction has influenced her. 

“I started competing in scholarship pageants when I was 4 years old,” said Larose. “My dance teacher introduced my family and me to pageants. After a local prelim and the state pageant, I went on to win the international title and was awarded around $4,000 in college scholarships.”

Although this was Larose’s first time competing in Miss Louisiana, she had attended many times to support friends in the past.

“I competed in the Miss Louisiana’s Outstanding Teen Pageant in 2013 and won the Non-Finalist Talent award,” said Larose. “When I competed in Miss Southeastern, I had not been in a pageant in five years, and my main goal was to become Miss Southeastern to get more involved on campus.”

According to Larose, representing the university as Miss SLU has been “a dream come true.” 

So, she set a long list of goals for herself.

Larose said, “After winning the title, my plan was to be the best Miss SLU I could by: being visible on campus and in the community, having fun and doing my best at Miss Louisiana, helping CAB produce an amazing pageant in the fall, getting more sponsorship for future Miss Southeasterns, and guiding the future title holder throughout her reign.”

Although Larose had a goal to have fun at Miss Louisiana, she was surprised at just how fun it ended up being.

“It really was an emotional and empowering feeling modeling on the Miss Louisiana stage in a bathing suit and evening wear,” said Larose. “I’m extremely grateful that I got to experience that as Miss Southeastern. It was not until after the pageant was over that I started thinking about going back to compete again, and it was because complete strangers came up to me to say how much they had enjoyed watching me compete throughout the week.”

Currently, Larose is focused on her duties as Miss SLU and does not yet know if she will compete for any titles next pageant season.

“I would love to compete again,” said Larose. “As of now, I plan to enjoy my last five months as Miss Southeastern. There is a ton of traditions and events that I am looking forward to, and I will be going out and recruiting contestants for the pageant. The Miss America Pageant is in September, and I’ll decide then if I want to compete for another local title.”

Larose found the 32 other contestants to be what made the pageant most memorable for her.

“Previous contestants and titleholders often say, ‘The sisterhood is real,’” said Larose. “I can honestly tell you they are right. It did not seem like we were there competing against each other. We were bonding, helping each other, and representing our areas to the best of our abilities. We would all sing in the limos on the way to events, calm each other’s nerves backstage and stay up late telling funny stories. I gained 32 talented, intelligent and amazing friends.”

Due to the formations of the dance numbers, Larose was able to build a bond with 2019 Miss Louisiana Holli’ Conway.

“We are all so excited for the new Miss Louisiana Holli’ Conway,” said Larose. “She stood next to me in the opening and closing productions, so I got to know her pretty well. I can remember holding Miss Benton Chloe Burkett’s hand as they announced the winner. We both were ugly crying big happy tears for Holli’.”

Larose finds it hard to pinpoint a difficult part of the experience.

“The week went by so smoothly because of those people who truly care about each contestant and believe in opportunities of the organization,” said Larose.

2018 Miss Shreveport Emily Randon, who graduated from the university in 2016 with a degree in kinesiology, competed in her first ever pageant in 2014, taking the title of 2015 Miss Southeastern Louisiana University.

“I was honored to represent my university at Miss Louisiana and place second runner-up,” said Randon. “After that, I competed at Miss Louisiana again as Miss Crescent City New Orleans 2016 and as Miss St. Tammany Heritage in 2017.  I placed second runner-up to Miss Louisiana three times in a row in 2015, 2016 and 2017. This year, I broke my ‘second runner-up streak’ by placing first runner-up.”

In addition to placing first runner-up, Randon received scholarships for Lifestyle and Fitness and Women in Medicine.

Randon is determined to compete in the Miss Louisiana Pageant again next year.

“I would love to compete one last time before I age out,” said Randon. “I am a very driven person, and I won’t give up on my dream of becoming Miss Louisiana and competing at Miss America.”

During the Miss Louisiana Pageant buildup, Randon made a personal connection with a Monroe citizen she met at a nursing home.

“Miss Louisiana week is filled with rehearsals as well as community service appearances,” said Randon. “I enjoyed visiting the nursing home in Monroe and playing bingo with the senior citizens that lived there. I met an elderly woman, Mrs. Dale, who told me stories about how she, too, used to be a ballerina.”

Due to the packed schedule of Miss Louisiana contestants, Randon found it difficult to work in her daily exercise routine.

“The most challenging part of Miss Louisiana week was finding time to workout,” said Randon. “I am a fitness junkie and usually workout every day, but it was hard to find the time to exercise with the rigorous schedule of rehearsals and events.”

Randon appreciates the community service opportunities being a title holder opens up to her.

“Although I do not need a crown and sash to serve, the Miss America Organization has provided me with incredible opportunities over the years to give back to my community,” said Randon. “Just this past spring, I hosted a peanut butter drive in Hammond where I collected over 700 jars of peanut butter for the Food Bank of Northeast Louisiana. I have also been able to serve in several children’s hospitals as well as raise funds for many different charities.”

Much like her late start to pageants, Randon was a late comer to the world of dance as well. 

“I began my ballet training at the age of 12, which is considered old to start dancing,” said Randon. “However, I was able to catch up and train on a pre-professional track throughout high school. I have been dancing for 12 years now, and I am a classical ballet instructor for several schools in St. Tammany Parish and Tangipahoa Parish.”

Randon performed a classical ballet en point piece to an excerpt from Georges Bizet’s famous opera “Carmen.”

“Classical ballet en pointe is my forte,” said Randon. “I thoroughly enjoyed dancing the intriguing and flirtatious character of Carmen for my talent piece. I know many of my ballet students were watching at home, and it was my goal to inspire them to dream big.”

During the preliminary competitions on the first night, Randon won a $500 scholarship for Lifestyle and Fitness.

“Although this was my third time winning Lifestyle and Fitness in Swimsuit at Miss Louisiana, I felt especially excited and accomplished when I heard my name called,” said Randon.” It meant that all of my hard work had paid off.  Also, with the new changes in the Miss America system, specifically the elimination of the swimsuit portion, it felt extremely sentimental to have won this award.”

Freshman marketing major Chloe Burkett, who competed as Miss Benton 2018, has been involved with pageants since childhood.

“I started pageants when I was 10 years old and ever since have become more in love with it,” said Burkett. “Starting this ‘sport’ was an action taken by my mom because she just wanted me to be more involved with girls my age. I’m thankful that she did because I’ve made lasting friendships.”

Burkett received a scholarship for Community Service First Runner-up.

According to Burkett, the lack of sleep made the week a challenge. 

“We had early mornings and late nights, but I was able to get through it because we all were delirious by the end of the week,” said Burkett. “It was the best week of my life.”

Junior early childhood education major Kristyn Gary began her Miss Pageant career at the university when she was named Miss Southeastern Louisiana University 2017.

 “I was interested in the experience and the scholarships,” said Gary. “The Miss Southeastern Pageant opened up so many doors for me and led me to where I am now.”

Since Miss SLU, this was Gary’s second time competing at Miss Louisiana. 

“I would love the opportunity to compete again,” said Gary. “It is such a great experience and has taught me so much.”

Gary was the recipient of a $1,000 Women in Education Award.

Gary, whose platform is Book it to Success: Promoting Early Childhood Literacy, enjoyed being able to visit a local Monroe library and read to children.

“The most memorable part of the Miss Louisiana Pageant was when we visited the local library in Monroe,” said Gary. “As an early childhood education major, being able to read to the children and play games was a blast. During a week of long rehearsals and preparation, appearances like that are a great way to bring the contestants back down to earth. It really reminds us what is important.”

Gary felt a little homesick during the week-long pageant experience.

“The most challenging part of the Miss Louisiana Pageant was being away from family for a whole week,” said Gary. “Also, running on little sleep was challenging, but it was worth it.”

Larose expressed her gratitude for her supporters leading up to the pageant and is planning a moving farewell speech.

“I’m extremely thankful for my family, friends and the Southeastern administrators that helped me during my preparation for the pageant,” said Larose. “It is hard work balancing appearances, work, school, preparation and a job, but I got through it because I had an awesome support system. I can’t thank those people enough. There’s no doubt in my mind that this year’s Miss SLU pageant will be a huge success.”

Miss Southeastern Louisiana University Alyssa Larose won the $500 Non-Finalist scholarship.

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