Kendra Turley is a junior majoring in Mass Communication. She is from Houston, Texas and is involved with LSU Ambassadors, Tiger TV, the LSU STRIPES program, Freshman Leadership Council and Tiger Transition Team. In today’s post, Kendra shares a little bit about her experience in the Miss LSU Pageant.
I’ve always been pretty outgoing. I’m that stranger who initiates small talk while waiting in line. I’m that daughter who loves when her mom takes a million pictures of her. I’m that eager student who raises her hand before anyone else to volunteer in class. However, The Miss LSU-USA Pageant was something I wasn’t so eager about… at first. Let’s back up.
I competed in my very first pageant in February of this year of which I won the title Miss Imani 2014. As Miss Imani, I automatically advanced to compete in The Miss LSU-USA Pageant. WOAH. Just hearing the words “Miss LSU” made me nervous. Was I really ready to compete in a USA based pageant? Was I really ready to compete against girls who had been doing pageants for years? Was I really ready to compete for the title of Miss LSU 2014? My mind answered, “NOPE,” to all of these questions but my heart screamed, “You got it, girl!”
Delta Zeta Sorority has hosted The Miss LSU-USA Pageant every year during the spring semester since 1998. The pageant consists of an opening number, swim scene, formal scene and on-stage questions for the semifinalist. It is a charitable event, meaning all of the proceeds benefit the sorority’s charity. Over the years, The Miss LSU-USA Pageant has raised over $10,000 a year. The pageant raises so much money that it is capable of giving Miss LSU a $1,000 scholarship and paid entry into The Miss Louisiana Pageant. Talk about a double whammy!
Knowing that Miss LSU could compete and potentially win the title of Miss Louisiana was exciting yet intimidating information. If I wasn’t nervous before the pageant, hearing this information DEFINITELY made me nervous. However, I felt less and less nervous after each Sunday practice. The Delta Zeta ladies in charge of the pageant made sure all 21 contestants felt relaxed, prepared and confident. Talking with the other contestants helped ease my fears tremendously. The pageant veterans (girls who have competed in pageants before) told me what to expect on the day of the pageant and how to adequately prepare. The pageant newbies (girls who have never competed in a pageant) confessed their nerves and fears as well, making me feel like less of an outcast. My nerves turned in to determination. I was determined to show off all of my hard work and I was determined to be crowned Miss LSU 2014.
Time flew by and before I knew it, it was 7pm, Sunday, March 23rd. I was in my “urban jungle” themed outfit ready to dance for the opening number. In front of me were the five judges who interviewed me that morning. Beyond them were hundreds of people, including my family and friends. I was ready to show out for each and every one of them.
My heart raced as I stood in the wing of the stage before my swim scene walk. All types of thoughts ran through my head as I watched the contestants before me.
“I should’ve worked out more.”
“Maybe I should’ve went with a yellow swim suit instead.”
“What if I trip during my turn?”
Those thoughts immediately left my head when they called contestant number seven to the stage. My mindset during my walk was simple: Be Beyonce. I channeled my fierce side and strutted across that stage in confidence. That confidence carried through to my evening gown walk as well. After that, there was nothing else I could really do. It was all up to the judges.
All 21 contestants took the stage after intermission to hear which contestants placed in the Top 5. This was the first time I was completely calm on stage. I was pleased with my performance but something in me said it wasn’t enough to place as a semi-finalist. So, why stress out?
“Our next semi-finalist is…. Contestant number 7, Miss Kendra Turley.”
WAIT. WHAT? I made it in the Top 5? I fought hard to hold back tears of joy as I joined the rest of the semifinalists in the front of the stage. “To God be all the glory,” was the only thing in my head, as I stood there surprised and overwhelmed. Afterward, all five semifinalists answered an on stage question. The judges scored each of us on how well we answered the question.
Moments later, all five of us were lined up and ready to hear who would be crowned the next Miss LSU. At that moment, I didn’t even care if I won or not because The Miss LSU-USA Pageant was about much more than just a crown or a title. It was an experience! An experience that very few girls have the opportunity to take part in. This experience gave me a new sense of confidence, an even harder work ethic, a greater passion for my university and 20 new friendships.
I was awarded 3rd runner up! Not too shabby for my second pageant if you ask me. I’m extremely sad that the pageant is over, but I’m so thankful my newly found friendships continue to grow. The girls who competed in that pageant with me truly are some of LSU’s most intelligent, beautiful, responsible, compassionate, and successful women. In my heart, we’re all Miss LSU.