Southeastern breaks the Top Ten at Miss Louisiana Competition 2021


Brynn Lundy

Miss Southeastern 2021 Lily Gayle placed in the Top Ten during the 2021 Miss Louisiana competition this past weekend in Monroe, La. Gayle, a senior communication major, received multiple scholarships as a semi-finalist.

On Saturday, June 19, Lily Gayle, Miss Green and Gold, was announced as a finalist in the Top Ten on the final night of the Miss Louisiana competition.

Gayle is the first Southeastern representative to break the Top Ten since 2014 when Lacey Sanchez was crowned Miss Louisiana for that year. While Gayle did not make it into the top five, she won a $500 best instrumentalist scholarship from her talent and a semi-finalist scholarship.

Miss Green and Gold performed a vocal and piano piece titled “Psalm 46” on the second night of the preliminaries on June 18.

When competing as a Top Ten finalist, the contestants must again compete in the evening gown, on-stage interview and talent portions of the competition just as they did during the previous preliminaries.

“It felt like I was on top of the world. I’ve only ever won one competition for talent, but at this level and magnitude? I never knew,” Gayle said when remembering receiving the scholarship on the final night.

Lily Gayle finishing her piano and vocal performance of “Psalm 46” for her talent. Gayle broke the top ten on finals night and performed her talent, and competed in the on-stage interview and red carpet portion of the competition, all for a second time.

Gayle also added that her favorite part of the experience was fellow contestant and former Miss Southeastern 2018 Alyssa Larose’s reaction when she made the Top Ten on Saturday.

Other Southeastern women who competed in the pageant were also awarded scholarships.

Megan Magri, Miss Pride of the Twin Cities and a kinesiology major, won a $500 non-finalist talent scholarship for her lyrical dance titled “Clean.”

“Words cannot describe how it felt to be announced as a non finalist talent. When they did, my dressing room went crazy and everyone cheered. Tears instantly flowed from my eyes because there were phenomenal talents on stage,” Magri recalled when thinking back to the moment of the announcement.

She added that it was a humbling experience winning talent out of the 20 contestants, not in the Top Ten.

While competing, Magri pushed for her social impact initiative called Lifting Up Military Families, dedicated to raising awareness about the struggles of being a child in a military family.

A second-year graduate student and Miss Lincoln Parish, Larose, received a $1000 scholarship on June 18 for her achievements as a woman in education.

“I am overjoyed to have come with the Women in Education scholarship. I proudly represented Southeastern this entire week, so being awarded a scholarship for my bachelor’s degree was icing on the cake,” Larose said.

Alyssa Larose receiving her scholarship for being a woman in education on one of the preliminary nights. Larose competed as Miss Lincoln Parish in the Miss Louisiana 2021 Competition.

Larose’s social impact initiative that she promoted was TD1: Living without Limits, where she wanted to raise awareness and advocate for those with Type 1 diabetes.

Three other women from Southeastern also competed in the Miss Louisiana competition. Janine Hatcher, Catherine Wooton and Jessica Thonn enjoyed their time overall representing Southeastern at the competition, and each received a $500 non-finalist award. Magri and Larose also received the non-finalist award along with their scholarships.

Hatcher said, “One of things I enjoyed throughout the week the most is allowing the judges, audience, and other candidates to get to know me better during the week. I have been a certified mentor since the age of 13 and I am overjoyed to have had the opportunity to share my heart for service and the message of youth advocacy that I have with everyone.”

When people are considering competing Thonn, Miss Dixie Stockshow, says go for it.

“It’s worth the shot and the memories that come with the experience. Even if you don’t walk away with a crown, you’ll walk away with amazing friendships and experiences that are very unique to the Miss America Organization,” Thonn said.

Larose mentioned that there is so much to gain and nothing to lose from competing in the Miss America Organization and that if anyone’s interested, they won’t regret it.

Gayle also commented that scholarship competitions are a great way to learn a lot about themselves.

“You learn so much about yourself. I learned that I was braver than I expected and I was capable of making the judges see me for who I am,” Gayle added.