Indiana State University’s own, Tiarra Taylor, is counting down the days until she leaves for the Miss America competition this December. Taylor, a senior who is majoring in communication, previously won the title of Miss ISU 2019. She also currently possesses the title of Miss Indiana 2019. 

As Taylor prepares for the Miss America contest, she revealed what it took for her to make it to Miss Indiana. Aren Straiger, the executive director of the Miss Indiana contest, also gave the inside scoop from her experience with the organization.

Once the level of Miss Indiana is reached, the competition still consists of multiple stages. The length of the process depends on how many times a contestant competes at the local level. In order to reach Miss Indiana, the contestant must win at the local level to move up to the state level. Miss Indiana begins in July and continues until March when thirty-six local titles have been awarded. The actual Miss Indiana competition consists of several stages: a private interview, on stage interview, talent and social impact statement in evening wear. All these stages contribute to the awarding of the crown.

Upon reaching the previously mentioned stages, Straiger said, “For interview, young women are keeping up to date with current events and relevant issues going on in the world around them. For on-stage interview, they are practicing their public speaking skills and learning to think ‘on the fly.’ Talents range from vocalists, dancers, instrumentalists, and more. Each of the women work with teachers and coaches to improve their performance ability through their individual talents. And finally, for social impact statement, they will craft a brief ‘verbal tweet’ to deliver to the audience about their social impact initiative.”

So how did Tiarra Taylor begin competing in pageants? As a sophomore in high school, she initially heard about a local pageant from a friend and decided to enter on a whim. For seven years now, Taylor has been involved with pageants. “Once you get bit by the pageant bug, you’re bit. I’m here forever,” said Taylor.

 “It’s a lot of hard work, but at the end of the night everyone’s emotional because you put so much heart into it,” said Taylor, adding that her approach to preparing as lots of “prayer, hard work and sacrifice.”

Taylor also emphasizes how it’s not only about the physical preparation for pageants, but also the mental aspect. “There’s a lot of mental preparation that goes into it too,” said Taylor. “If you’re not in the right mindset, you’ll want to compare yourself to the other women competing.”

Along with the physical and mental preparation for competition comes loads of stress. Straiger notes that “each time they compete, their stress lessens and their confidence grows.”

“You have to remember why you’re competing and tackle things one at a time,” said Taylor. “I want to inspire other young girls. If I give up now, who will be there for them?”

Despite being a full-time student, Taylor still fully commits herself to pageants. “When you know you want something badly, you’re willing to make time.”

All the hard work, preparation and stress that comes with competing for the Miss Indiana title pays off in the end.

“For me, the most rewarding part of our organization is watching young women grow and become successful after college and as they enter the workforce," said Straiger. “I feel that we have given them professional development skills in an environment of friendship and sisterhood.”

Competitors not only gain crucial career skills, but the ability to help fund their education. “Our competition also gives young women the opportunity to earn scholarships for college,” said Straiger.

The competitions also provide an excellent way to network and meet new people. “Many of our candidates will tell you it is also a great way to meet other young women who have similar interests and want to get involved in their communities,” said Straiger.

“The women that I get to meet are my absolutely favorite part,” said Taylor. “I meet some of the most amazing women.

“I am super fortunate because I have the ability to compete. Of all the women in the world, I am one that gets to be a part of this organization. It’s really special and I love it. You only get one life and for me to be able to do this and experience it, nothing makes me happier.”