Indiana Daily Student

Hoosier brings title back to Bloomington

Miss Indiana contestants perform the opening number to start off the pageant Saturday at the Zionsville Performing Arts Center.
Miss Indiana contestants perform the opening number to start off the pageant Saturday at the Zionsville Performing Arts Center.

When Gabrielle Reed first began competing in the Miss America Program, it was not just for the title.

“The first year I competed, two years ago, was the year I won Miss IU,” she said. “If I would not have won Miss IU, I would have had to leave IU. I wouldn’t have been able to pay my tuition. That meant a tremendous amount for me personally.”

Reed, an IU student, was crowned Miss Indiana at the 70th annual Miss Indiana Scholarship Pageant on Saturday at the Zionsville High School Performing Arts Center in Zionsville.

Reed was selected by a panel of judges including four former Miss Indianas in the categories of talent, swimsuit and fitness, evening gown and question-and-answer.

As part of her duties, Reed will represent Indiana at the upcoming 2011 Miss America Pageant in Las Vegas.

Reed, although confident she had done well, was not certain that she would win.
“There was another girl actually who didn’t place that I thought would do well,” she said.

After Reed’s name was called, she was crowned by Miss Indiana 2009 and IU alumna Nicole Pollard.

“Nicole is a dear friend of mine, so that was really special for me,” Reed said.
One of the judges was Kit Field Kruger, Miss IU 1967, Miss Indiana 1967 and fourth runner-up to Miss America 1968.

Kruger said Reed exemplified many of the qualities of Miss Indiana.

“So much goes into being a winner,” Kruger said. “Her talent was exceptional, and her interview was exceptional.”

Four other contestants who attend or have attended IU competed, including first runner-up Brittany Hagan.

“I thought they’d called the wrong person at first,” Hagan said. “It was pretty shocking because I competed last year and didn’t make the top 10.”

The Process

Saturday’s final event was the last in the weeklong process of selecting Miss Indiana.

The contestants began the week by participating in the Zionsville Merchants Pet Parade. They also attended several fundraisers and spent time with various volunteer organizations.

Throughout the rest of the week, the women were split into two groups for evaluation by the judges in preliminary rounds.

Reed and Hagan both won honors during the preliminary judging for their interview sections. Reed also won best talent in her group.

Other preliminary winners included IU alumna Katie Rayl for the lifestyle and fitness section.

During the final event, the 29 women competing for the title was pared down to 11. These women competed one more time in front of an enthusiastic audience bearing pins, fans and flyers displaying their favorites to win the competition.
The semi-finalists competed on stage in talent, swimsuit and fitness, evening gown and question and answer.

“After they announced the top 10, I felt good about my whole performance for the whole week,” Reed said.  “But the thing you have to remember is that your score only gets you into the top five. ... Nothing is for sure. But you’ve done all you could, and all you could do is hope it works out. And it did. I was speechless.  I was really just speechless and unbelievably thrilled and excited.”

Growing through the pageants

The Miss Indiana and Miss America programs are pageants that provide scholarships for young women across the nation. The programs’ stated purpose is to provide an opportunity to “gain additional life experience, work on issues of importance to society, enhance personal and professional skills and developing your performance-related and other talents.”

Reed agreed.

“It’s not a beauty pageant,” she said. “It is about the girl who is going to go out there and promote a program that is teaching young women skills that they need to be successful in the work force, to be successful in the arts — whatever field you need to go into. This is a program that teaches you those things.”

Hagan said she has grown as a person through her association with the Miss America program, particularly through her platform, which raises awareness of autism.

“Nothing’s more empowering than reaching out to others,” Hagan said. “I think that’s helped me to grow over the past two years.”

“Other than that, it really helps with being confident on stage, poised, being articulate and feeling comfortable with whoever you are. I would definitely suggest it for anyone who wants to be involved in Miss America.”
Responsibilities of Miss Indiana

In addition to representing Indiana in the Miss America pageant, Miss Indiana must fulfill several responsibilities.

During her tenure as Miss Indiana, Nicole Pollard got a chance to do pretty much everything, she said.

“Miss Indiana wears many hats,” Pollard said. “Most of my work was revolved around service organizations. ... But there’s really nothing out of the job description for Miss Indiana.”

As Miss Indiana, Pollard got the opportunity to sing at several Indianapolis sporting events as well.

“It was a very busy year, but when you think about it there’s so much that I’ve done within one year,” she said. “I keep thinking about all I wish I could have done. Those are the things you work on after the year’s over: getting those things under your belt and really making a difference just as yourself.”
It is a big job, but Reed said she can handle it.

“I just feel ready,” she said. “I was ready for the job of Miss Indiana when I took it. I feel really prepared and I think going to Miss America is going to turn out really well.”

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