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2013 Mr. and Miss UCF pageants begin this weekend

By Rachel Williams
On February 6, 2013

Poise, talent, fitness and the ability to think on ones feet are not the only aspects of pageantry required by CABs annual Mr. and Miss UCF competition.

About five hours a week have been dedicated to the pageant since October. It is more than I was expecting, Mr. UCF contestant and political science junior Austin Heffernan said. Heffernan has been preparing for this pageant since freshman year.

But, as has happened many times throughout the event since it started almost 30 years ago, participants have dropped out of the pageant due to time commitment.

The pageant does not require student participants to spend great amounts of money, but it does require time commitment from them. Swimsuits can come from any store, such as Target, and girls can have dresses donated to them or they can be borrowed. They can even wear old prom dresses.

Despite the small money requirement from students, these pageants Miss UCF in particular have seen success and growth through the years.

Miss UCF 2012 Alexa Schmidt placed first runner-up in the Miss Florida pageant. This was huge for us because everyone else saw we were in the game, Spectacular Knights director of Campus Activities Board Taylor Dudley said.

The Miss UCF pageant is an official Miss America pageant; therefore, Miss UCF is also expected to compete in Miss Florida.

The girls have it a lot harder because they need to prepare for some serious questions on stage. The winner must also make a platform for Miss Florida, Mr. UCF 2012 Zach Cabrera said.

Schmidts platform was no texting and driving, and, because of the resources she had at her fingertips, her platform spread to high schools across Florida.

Mr. and Miss UCF contestants are similarly judged based on a private interview, an on-stage question, their lifestyle and fitness, their talents and evening wear.

The contestants are extremely talented this year. The talent portion is seeing a whole new caliber, Dudley said.

Part of the reason the girls questions are tougher is because three of the five judges for the Miss UCF pageant are Miss America trained, which ensures the winner will be competitive at Miss Florida. Miss UCF not only needs to be prepared for a college level but also a state level. UCF faculty and a celebrity judge will occupy the remaining seats on the judging panel. Student Government Association President Cortez Whatley will be a judge at the Mr. UCF pageant, while the celebrity judge is radio host of Power 95.3, Estee Martin.

Besides the crown, contestants are competing for scholarship money and certificates to various businesses. Scholarship money comes from SGA, the UCF Alumni Association and advertisement sales. Dudley said contestants are also given the necessary materials they need to generate advertisement revenue.

Businesses are more willing to donate money for advertisement sales when they realize it goes toward scholarship money, Schmidt said.

About $20,000 will be split among Mr. and Miss UCF pageant contestants. All contestants receive a scholarship, but the winners of each pageant receive a base amount of $1,500 plus a percentage of advertisement sales they were responsible for and certificates from local businesses.

Titles first through fourth runner-up, non-finalist talent winner, non-finalist interview winner, top advertisement sales and Mr. and Miss Congeniality are also awarded.

You get so much more than just scholarship money, Schmidt said. Its a family and friendship, and you will never regret doing this.

Winners of Mr. and Miss UCF are the faces of the university during their reign. The 2012 pageant winners had appearances at events such as Knight-Thon, Relay for Life, Campus Movie Fest and IHOP Pancake Day.

Event appearances were pretty spontaneous. It has been very fun at all the events and meeting great people, Cabrera said.

Schmidt recognizes the impact the pageant has made on her beyond being the face of UCF.

It has shown me I have more abilities than I ever realized. Career wise, I am ready for any interview I may face, Schmidt said. She currently works as a neurotherapist at Whole Family Healthcare in Winter Park and is also a dancer for the Orlando Magic.

Ten students will compete in the 2013 Mr. UCF Pageant on Friday at 8 p.m. in the Pegasus Ballroom, and the Miss UCF Pageant will feature 18 students on Saturday at 8 p.m also in the Pegasus Ballroom.

Grand stage designs and professional videos are expected throughout the pageants, which are open and free to all students.

As the 2012 reign comes to an end, Cabrera reminisces on the past year.

I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but it was an incredible experience."

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