For 22 accomplished young ladies, they could hardly believe that this day had come. Finally, it was time to crown Miss WCU 2013. After weeks of practice, the night had finally arrived.
The pageant contestants came from a myriad of majors and organizations. Contestants for Miss WCU 2013 were Molly Callanan, Melissa Christie, Haley Shutt, Devon Becker, Emily Desiderio, Mercedes Johnson, Nicole Vigilante, Elle Berry-Johnson, Margo Loggia, Samantha Gogets, Emily Sharp, Heidi Brooks, Caitlin O’Connor, Cassandra Thompson, Morgan Stewart, Julie Cramer, Stormy Milburn, Kim Bydlon, Deneen Friend, Tiffany Hundley, Ilana Berger, and Jenna Romansky.
The pageant opened with an amazing rendition of the National Anthem by Courtney Daniels. Daniels was followed by the Opening Production Number, a lively dance number that included all of the pageant contestants, as well as Miss WCU 2012, Alexis Stinson, who incorporated flag twirling into her performance.
The next portion of the competition was a video that introduced each contestant. They were filmed at several different areas all around campus and used the time to introduce themselves, say what organizations they were involved in and explain their platforms. Some of the platforms were To Write Love on Her Arms, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, The Arts in Action, and Restore the Shore.
Next, the audience met the judges. The emcee of the evening was Robin Vitale, Mrs. New Jersey 2012. Other judges included Dann Dunn, who was recently named Philadelphia’s Best Director and Best Choreographer by the 2012 BroadwayWorld Awards, and Courtney Thomas, Miss Pennsylvania 2010.
The next portion of the pageant was the casual wear competition, which gave contestants the opportunity to show their personalities. Then, Miss WCU 2012 prefaced the talent competition by playing the piano and singing Elton John’s “Your Song.” The talent portion of the pageant included a gymnastics routine, several dance numbers, a stand-up comedy act, singing, a photography slideshow, monologues, and even a sword-twirling act. Not to mention, two different contestants accompanied themselves by using cups, which fans of the movie Pitch Perfect would surely recognize.
After a brief 10-minute intermission, contestants graced the stage in their formalwear to answer questions about their platforms, their dreams, and West Chester University. Recognition of the 14 former Miss WCU titleholders followed, several of whom were in attendance. Next came special remarks from the mayor of West Chester, Carolyn Comitta, during which she offered hugs to students who wanted them, and gave Alexis Stinson a key to the city of West Chester. Stinson then stayed on the stage as a video played of her farewell presentation as she explained everything that she was able to accomplish in the last year.
Finally, the top five finalists were announced in no particular order: Molly Callanan, Melissa Christie, Elle Berry-Johnson, Emily Sharp, and Ilana Berger. These finalists were then asked a question, some of which were “If someone were to write a book about your experiences at West Chester University, what would its title be?” and “What do you think are the three most important qualities to have in Miss WCU?”
While the judges deliberated, emcee Robin Vitale received the Miss WCU Fan of the Year award for always supporting the pageant and visiting titleholders were recognized, women of all ages from all over the country. Finally, Stinson graced the stage again, this time with two backup singers, to play the piano again and sing “Hallelujah.” When she finished, the time had finally come to give awards.
The Congeniality Award went to Emily Sharp; the People’s Choice Award, which was chosen by the audience, went to Elle Berry-Johnson. Mercedes Johnson received the Photogenic Award, and Elle Berry-Johnson won the Leadership Award. Melissa Christie received both the Academic Award and the Community Service Award. The Newcomer Award for a first-year contestant went to Margo Loggia, and Stormy Milburn received the Spirit Award. Jenna Romansky received the Non-Finalist Casual Wear Award for highest score in casual wear, and Haley Shutt won the Non-Finalist Talent Award. Cassandra Thompson won both the Poise and Presence Award and the Non-Finalist Interview Award. Finally, Ilana Berger won both the Platform Development Award and the Fan Club Award for the loudest cheers whenever she came on stage.
“It was incredible [to win the Fan Club Award] because every time I walked on the stage, it seemed like the whole concert hall was cheering for me,” Berger said. “The amount of love and support I received leading up to the night and throughout truly warmed my heart.”
Finally, the time had arrived to crown Miss WCU 2013. Of the top five finalists, Melissa Christie was fourth runner up, followed by Elle Berry-Johnson at third runner-up and Ilana Berger at second runner-up. After it was announced that Molly Callanan was first runner-up, the crowd went wild with cheers for Miss WCU 2013: Emily Sharp, who had blown the audience away with a beautiful rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream” from the musical Les MisÃ©rables, and her platform was Mirror Mirror, “a program to make the best of the reflection you see in the mirror.”
“If I ever find the words [to talk about winning Miss WCU], I promise to call you,” Sharp said. “It was simply a dream come true. I’m so honored to represent West Chester University.”
Clare Haggerty is a second-year student majoring in English. She can be reached at CH757342@wcupa.edu.