By Debra Gonzalez
Contestants of the 12th annual Miss Phi Iota Alpha scholarship pageant will showcase brains and beauty at 7 p.m. this Saturday in Waco Hall.
Pageant vice president David Luna says that they try to make every year better than the last, with more contestants and more money.
“We give $5,000 in scholarships to the top four contestants,” Luna said. “First place gets $2,500, second place gets $1,200, $800 and $500, respectively, for third and fourth.”
Pageant contestants are judged on a variety of things, including how they present themselves.
“They have business attire, where they dress up in women’s suits and stuff like that. They have an evening gown, formal dress they have to wear,” Luna said. “Also, their public speaking abilities are ranked on how well they can speak and how well they can answer the questions that the judges will be asking.”
Though the pageant sounds fun, Luna said it can be a lot of work.
“Usually the girls take about six weeks to prepare themselves, learning dance routines and learning all these different things,” Luna said.
Senior Aanchal Bhatia, a first -time pageant contestant, says she wanted to compete because of friends that previously participated.
“They loved it,” Bhatia said. “They thought it was such a great experience and they met so many new people. This year, I just happened to have the time for it and I wanted to do it before I graduated. Also, I believe that the skills that you learn during the pageant, you can always use that. Interviewing and talking to people, fundraising, I just wanted to polish those skills for myself.”
The dances were what Bhatia looked forward to.
“We had a choreographer, and she was amazing,” Bhatia said. “It was just fun practicing and we had the option to have our opinions in there. I actually looked forward to it every time I went to practice after a long day because we just had such a good time just dancing.”
Though she isn’t ready yet, Bhatia said she will get there.
“I’ve had some nightmares about it, but the pageant chairs and all the boys are really supportive. They really help you out, getting over anxiety,” Bhatia said. “I think I should be ready by Saturday, for the stage at least.”
Bhatia recommends the pageant to any women interested for next year.
“It’s so much fun. It’s such a great experience,” Bhatia said. “You get to meet so many new people and it’s not like a typical beauty pageant, like you have to look pretty all the time, or anything like that.”
She adds that the pageant helped her find herself.
“When you’re writing your speech, when you’re doing your interview with the judges and just practicing, you really see what you’re capable of doing,” she said. “If you have the time for it, definitely do it.”
But Luna warns that it’s not all fun.
“Most of the recruitment we want to do within the first two or three weeks [of the fall.] We also have informationals, so you can sign up if you’re interested and go to informationals and find out in depth what it’s about,” Luna said. “We want girls to be fully aware of what it takes. It’s a lot of fun, but it is some time commitment. If you win the scholarship, that’s a lot of money. So if you put in the effort, you get rewarded very nicely.”
Phi Iota Alpha has been hosting the event for 12 years, and Bhatia said they’ve been doing a great job.
“I think it’s a great accomplishment for them and we’re all really excited.”
The pageant is free and open to the public.