Family members, friends and fans poured into the auditorium at the University of Miami’s Gusman Concert Hall to watch 16 dynamic young women compete for scholarships and the exciting position of Miss University of Miami and the new title of Miss Miami Hurricane 2009 at the annual Miss UM Scholarship Pageant on Tuesday night.
“There’s so many talented women we chose to have two title holders,” said Laura Stott, director of Student Activities and the pageant’s advisor.
The two winners, sophomore Jaife Calil, crowned Miss University of Miami 2009, and sophomore Jaime Lin Williams, who won the title of Miss Miami Hurricane, will go on to represent UM at the Miss Florida pageant and possibly the 2009 Miss America pageant.
“I came expecting to see some great performances [and]a lot of great looking women and to be totally entertained. I’m enjoying it” senior Sam Kugby said.
There was a noticeable increase in turnout this year in the audience as well as participants. The 16 contestants included Sharde Chambers, Mia Amato, Claudia Curiel, Megan Anderson, Jaife Calil, Christie Thomas, Jessica Rausch, Bria Walker, Jaime Williams, Kimberly Thompson, Veena Gursahani, Leslie Hood, Stephanie Gust, Rae Williams, Christy Castillo and Tia Dawkins-Hendricks.
From the beginning, it was clear this year’s pageant was not the stereotypical beauty contest.
“Pageantry is one of the best things that can happen to some of these girls. It’s not about beauty, it’s not about swimsuit, it’s about being able to present yourself and it helps them grow,” said Corilene Hudson, one of the five pageant judges.
The girls all had different cultural backgrounds but all shared one common goal – to be a role model for young women.
“The pageant is important because the winner can be the face to represent the University of Miami and show much the school is important to them and how much they actually care about their community,” junior Tia Dawkins-Hendricks said.
The five judges scored the girls on a scale of one to 10, as fit bodies flaunted swimsuits and each contestant had the opportunity to show off a talent.
“We all worked really hard the past few weeks but in the end it was great to compete and winning is awesome but the journey was a lot more important to me,” Williams said.
Some chose to sing, some danced, while others played an instrument or presented a monologue. Presence and poise were displayed in the last phase of the pageant when the girls answered questions in their elegant evening wear.
After deliberating, the judges crowned Calil and Williams, while Jessica Rausch, a senior, was first runner-up. Junior Raecine A. Williams took second runner-up and junior Kimberly Thompson placed third runner-up.
“I’m very excited and overwhelmed. I worked really hard and there were times I was discouraged but I kept on going,” Calil said.
Calil and Williams won a $750 scholarship and several other prizes.