Miss UM Pageant highlights cultural diversity on campus

Family members, friends and fans filled the auditorium at the Gusman Concert Hall Tuesday night to watch 12 pageant contestants compete for the ultimate position of Miss University of Miami 2007.

Since the beginning of the night, this year’s pageant was not the stereotypical beauty contest-this year it was greatly rooted on cultural backgrounds, differences and diversity. The contestants represented different cultures, coming from countries ranging from Vietnam to India to Nigeria.

As any traditional pageant, bathing suits showed fit bodies and each contestant had the opportunity to show off a talent. Some chose to sing, while others played an instrument or presented a monologue.

Some found that their talent was best represented by their cultural background, such as Veena Gursahani who danced to a traditional Indian song.

“The contestants showed how different cultures are present at UM, and how many of these pageants and competitions are striving to be diverse,” said Jonathan Franklin, a freshman and pageant attendee.

Before the coronation, the Indian Student Association performed their award-winning Indian dance. Similarly, Nicole Henry, a judge and UM graduate class of 2006, received a standing ovation after singing a song that she dedicated to the contestants who “seek to make a difference in the lives of others with their different platforms.”

Brenda Edwards, a Miss America judge, said judges had a difficult job in choosing a winner and the contestants were tremendously talented.

After deliberating, judges crowned Olusola Bamishigbin, a senior, Miss University of Miami 2007. Tears flowed down her face as a crown was placed on her head by Sarah Pachter, Miss University of Miami 2006.

Bamishigbin not only won a $1,000 scholarship and several other prizes, but most importantly, she will go on representing UM and her country of Nigeria at the Miss Florida pageant and possibly the Miss America pageant 2007.

Gabriela Campos may be contacted at gcampos@umsis.miami.edu.