Pageant showcases local talent, preliminary for Miss America

Brittany Westerberg

Brittany Westerberg

On Nov. 6 at 7 p.m., women from SDSU and the Brookings area will show off their poise, grace and talent in the Miss SDSU/Miss Brookings Pageant, sponsored in part by Alpha Psi Omega.

“This pageant is the preliminary for the Miss America Pageant,” Callee Bauman, a senior speech and rhetorical studies major and a former Miss SDSU, said. “It allows women from this campus to [compete to] represent South Dakota in that prestigious national pageant.”

There are 21 contestants this year, the highest number since 1972, according to Bauman.

The contestants have had practices already, on Oct. 28 and 30, and will have more before the actual contest.

There will be a private interview on Nov. 4, separate from what the audience will see. On Nov. 6, the contestants will compete on stage in Doner Auditorium. Judges will evaluate them in the Talent, Evening Gown, Swimsuit and Onstage question portions of the competition. The Interview is 25 percent of the competition, Talent is 35 percent, Evening Gown is 20 percent, Swimsuit is 15 percent and the Onstage Question is 5 percent.

“The judges score each girl individually on a scale from one to ten,” Bauman said. “The girls are judged on a scale based on their very best ? so how well she did versus how well she could have done. The highest score getters are Miss SDSU and Miss Brookings.”

According to Bauman, all the contestants are eligible for either title; the titles are randomly assigned to the top two contestants.

Last year’s Miss SDSU, Cori Bortnem, and Miss Brookings, Rose Heeb will crown this year’s winners, who will go on to compete in the 2008 Miss South Dakota pageant.

Heeb, a junior majoring in consumer affairs, said her favorite part of last year’s pageant was the theme, “Dreamgirls.”

“I think that women benefit from this program so much,” she said. “Not only is it a scholarship program, but it is an organization that helps women to grow and find out who they are as individuals. It’s a way to express yourself and build skills for later on down the road. It’s also a way to help others and be a good role model for young adults today.”

According to Bauman, traditionally Miss Brookings and Miss SDSU each get a prize of $1,000, and there are prizes for the first and second-runners-up, for the top scorers in the Swimsuit and Talent portions and for Miss Congeniality. There will be a new award this year, as well, to the top scoring Newcomer to the pageant scene.

“The Miss America Organization is the largest donor of scholarships for women in the world,” Bauman said. “So, once you tap into the system, there are quite a few scholarship dollars available to you.

The year Bauman was crowned Miss SDSU, she won the title of Miss South Dakota 2006 and went to the Miss America pageant this past January. Due to her participation, Bauman was awarded over $20,000 for her education.

Each contestant, along with a talent, a brilliant smile and good answers during the interview, is also required to have a platform, or a social issue, that is important to her. If that person becomes Miss SDSU or Miss Brookings, or later on Miss South Dakota, she will become an advocate for the issue and spokesperson for the year.

“The contestants have also raised $100 each for Children’s Miracle Network,” Bauman said, “doing a great service for children in our area and abroad.”

Admission to the pageant is $6 at the door, or $3 with a student ID. The admission goes directly toward scholarships.