Hatcher and Gayle to compete in Miss Louisiana Competition


Brynn Lundy

Miss Southeastern 2020 Janine Hatcher crowns Lily Gayle, a senior communication major, at the Miss Southeastern Louisiana University scholarship competition on Jan. 22 at the Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts.

Janine Hatcher and Lily Gayle will be representing Southeastern as they go to compete in the Miss Louisiana competition from June 17-19. 

Hatcher, Miss Southeastern 2020, and Gayle, Miss Southeastern 2021 who will compete with the title Miss Green and Gold, will be competing along with four other current students. 

The Miss Louisiana 2020 competition was canceled last year due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Due to this cancellation, Hatcher did not get the chance to compete for the title of Miss Louisiana 2020.

However, Hatcher will now have her shot at the crown and title of Miss Louisiana 2021 this year. 

 “It is an incredible feeling to be representing Southeastern Louisiana University at the state competition. I am only the second woman of color to represent the University, which hasn’t been done in 32 years,” Hatcher explained. “This is not because I feel like any other woman was incompetent of doing the job, but just often overlooked. This being said, I am glad that I get to reintroduce some form of diversity back into the lineage of Miss Southeastern on the Miss Louisiana stage for the first time in decades.”   

Miss Southeastern 2020 Janine Hatcher


Miss Southeastern 2021 Lily Gayle

Along with talents and beauty, each contestant has a social impact project that they bring awareness to while competing. Hatcher’s social impact project is called R.I.P.- Respect Individual Potential. 

R.I.P. is the social initiative established to combat the alarming rate of non-graduating teens, child suicide and adolescent violence that plauge communities. 

Hatcher added that this platform focuses on altering these detrimental paths through mentorship, advocation, education and through the support of youth while communities still can and while they’re still here.

“My initiative is something that I have been involved in since I was a child and something I grew into admiring after watching my parents impact the community in such a powerful way through mentorship programs that they’ve developed,” Hatcher said when reflecting on her project. 

Gayle’s social impact that she is promoting is the Lifter’s Project: Worth Your Heartbeat. She created this project to advocate for mental health patients going through recovery and relapse. 

Gayle noted how important not only this project is to her, but how she truly wants to be a supporter to those who are going through relapse and recovery. 

“The reason why it’s called the Lifters Project is because I’m a weightlifter and whenever you lift a heavy weight you need someone behind you in case you fall, that person is called a spotter. I am the spotter for people going through relapse and recovery,” Gayle said. 

In addition to Gayle and Hatcher, current Southeastern students competing in Miss Louisiana are Catherin Wooton, Alyssa Larose and Megan Magri. Recent Southeastern graduate Jessica Thonn is also a contestant.

When discussing her project, Thonn, Miss Dixie Stockshow, said that she plans to continue to work with her project even after Miss Louisiana. Thonn’s project, Why Add the Pain?, is centered on raising awareness and providing support for those who suffer from mental illness and helping victims of sexual assault. 

“After Miss Louisiana, I will continue to work with my social impact as regularly as I can, as I am also a full-time employee with Ochsner Health,” Thonn said.  

When discussing the upcoming competition Wooton, Miss North LA Bayou, said the interviewing portion is her favorite part. 

“I love that the judges get an opportunity to learn about when I’m not in a formal gown. That’s typically what all people think of when they think of pageants and I like being able to share my knowledge and heart with the judges on a personal level,” Wooton said. 

Gayle also said her favorite part of pageant competitions is the interview segment. She stated that it gives the judges time to get to know her and she loves to talk, especially since she is a communication major. 

In addition to interviews, Gayle noted she is really looking forward to participating in the Miss Louisiana 2021 competition. 

“I am looking most forward to being able to have a new experience. I love having something new thrown my way and making memories with all the girls around me,” Miss Green and Gold said. 

When discussing the Miss Louisiana 2021 competition one contestant, Larose, a graduate student at  Southeastern and Miss Lincoln Parish 2021, discussed how this year’s competition is going to be quite different compared to last year. 

“This year is really unique because most of the candidates have held their titles for over a year. The competition was canceled last year because of COVID so they have had all of this time to prepare,” Larose commented. 

While this may not seem the type of event for everyone, Hatcher recommends anyone try these types of competitions. 

When I was selected for the job of Miss Southeastern back in November of 2019 that was the first and only time I competed in a competition like this,” Hatcher said. “This will be my first and last year on the Miss Louisiana stage and I would encourage any young woman out there to compete. You’re always going to come up with an excuse as to why you shouldn’t participate or why you should put it off, so just do it.”

This year’s Miss Louisiana competition will be taking place in the Monroe Civic Center from June 17-19. There, Hatcher, Gayle and a total of 30 women from the state will compete for the crown and title of Miss Louisiana 2021. 

For more information on the Miss LA competition, visit https://www.misslouisiana.com/

To those interested in watching the Miss LA competition, it will be available on these tv stations: 

New Orleans: WUPL-TV Ch 54

Lafayette/Lake Charles: KATC-CW

Monroe: KAQY-TV Ch 11

Alexandria : KALB-TV Ch 5

Baton Rouge: WBTR- TV Ch 41

Shreveport: KPXJ-TV Ch 21

Morgan City, Thibodaux and Houma: KWBJ-TV CH 39

Thursday and Friday the Competition will be streamed live at https://watch.pageantslive.com/categories/louisiana-mao

Five current Southeastern Louisiana University students will compete at the 2021 Miss Louisiana Competition this week. Scheduled June 17 through 19, the pageant will take place at the WL Jack Howard Theatre in Monroe, La. From left are Catherine Wooten, Alyssa Larose, Vice President for Student Affairs Eric Summers, Lily Gayle, and Megan Magri. Not pictured is Janine Hatcher, Miss Southeastern 2020.