There will be no do-over after Hilary Tuttle’s sparkling victory in the 15th annual Miss LSU-USA Pageant on Sunday.
The winner of the pageant, hosted by Delta Zeta sorority, automatically qualifies for and receives paid admission to the Miss Louisiana competition, where recent LSU winners have gone on to be finalists and one went on to win Miss Congeniality, according to elementary education student and Delta Zeta member Allie Bruce.
Tuttle, a mass communication senior, said she was in awe when she was announced the winner.
“It’s been my dream to be Miss LSU,” Tuttle said. “I was shocked; I honestly had to pinch myself.”
Tuttle said she hopes to recruit for LSU by being an ambassador for the University and looks forward to representing LSU at the Miss Louisiana pageant.
Tuttle said she was the third runner-up in last year’s competition, her first pageant, and participated in two others in preparation for this year.
The 21 contestants were judged on their interviews early Sunday morning, as well as their abilities during the swimsuit and evening gown portions of the pageant. Then the field was narrowed to the top five, who finished the competition with an on-stage question portion.
The questions asked to the top five varied from the Student Government elections, pros and cons of online courses, admission requirements and the newly combined position of system president and chancellor.
All proceeds of the event go to Delta Zeta’s philanthropic organizations: the Starkey Hearing Foundation, the Painted Turtle Camp, the Baton Rouge Hearing and Speech Foundation and Alzheimer Services of the Capital Area, Bruce said.
“Winners participate in at least seven on-campus activities while wearing the crown, such as riding in the homecoming parade, going to Fall Fest and being at freshman orientation,” Bruce said.
Delta Zeta President and civil engineering student Kristen Gahagan said Miss LSU is the sorority’s biggest annual philanthropy event, and it raises around $50,000 each year.
It was announced during the event that over 15 years, Miss LSU-USA has raised more than $500,000 for Delta Zeta’s philanthropies through ticket sales, advertisements and program sales.
“Most of the girls don’t have much pageant experience behind them, so they are learning,” Gahagan said. “It’s not just a philanthropy, but a professional production.”
Gahagan said they tried to acclimate the competition to serving more non-Greeks than usual by having meetings in the Union instead of the sorority house.
“We tried to make the pageant more campus-wide, not just Greek-wide,” Gahagan said.
Bruce said this year’s candidates were willing and excited to compete to become the face of the University.
“The reason they are here is they want to represent LSU,” Bruce said. “They were all accommodating and easy to work with.”
Bruce said the candidates practiced over a five-week period, working on a choreographed dance, how to walk, interview and on-stage question preparation and what to wear.
The judges for the competition were selected based on knowledge of the University, interview questions and knowledge of pageant background, Bruce said, and they could not have a connection to any candidates.
Bruce said winners also work with three University organizations, such as Tiger Athletic Foundation, Student Government or the Greek Board of Directors, while also getting involved in community charitable organizations like the YMCA, Habitat for Humanity and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.