The Miss Northwestern Lady of the Bracelet Scholarship Program will be held Friday at 3 p.m. in the Treen Auditorium at the Louisiana School for Math, Science, and The Arts.
The eight women competing for this year’s title are Avery Debelak of Shreveport, Mary Gaffney of Metairie, Ashley Henry and Victoria Hickman of Slidell, Madeline Hensley of Anacoco, Kanica Irchirl of Natchitoches, Gabrielle Mockerman of Bossier City and Sarah Shiflett of Covington.
The Lady of the Bracelet pageant is one of Northwestern State University’s longest standing traditions.
Dr. Yonna Pasch, director of student activities, began her journey on Lady of the Bracelet as a graduate student in 2001 and became the director of Lady of the Bracelet in 2004.
“We pride ourselves on tradition, so not much has changed,” Pasch said.
Lady of the Bracelet began in 1958 as a beauty pageant where the winner would receive a gold bracelet with her name and year engraved on the charm. The bracelet is passed down from each winner to the next winner every year. Each Lady of the Bracelet receives a replica charm after she passes down the crown.
In 1971, Lady of the Bracelet became more than a beauty pageant. It became a branch of Miss America.
“It’s more than a pageant,” Pasch said. “It’s a job. They are no longer contestants but candidates because now they are applying for a job in a sense.”
Lady of the Bracelet is a scholarship opportunity in which the women involved must be interviewed, have a talent, a social impact initiative and have other qualities that are required for Miss America.
After the Lady of the Bracelet is crowned, she moves on to compete at Miss Louisiana. If she is crowned Miss Louisiana, she will move on to Miss America. Miss America is an organization that prides itself on women empowerment and scholarship money for school.
Jourdan Waddell, current Miss Lady of the Bracelet, said she is ecstatic about passing on her crown to the next queen in line.
“I love being Miss LOB,” Waddell said. “I’m not sure how it became a persona, but when people see me it’s Miss LOB, not Jourdan. But I think that’s cool!”
Waddell said her friends made her feel special by the way they respected the competition and what it stood for. She also said it helped her realize that this is one of the highest honors and a privilege to receive the crown.
Waddell is grateful to NSU for all the support.
“They pushed me so much to do my absolute best this year,” Waddell said.
Waddell’s social impact initiative was the Mental Health Stigma.
“I did notice a change in conversation about mental health. It impacted me, and I realized that whoever is Miss LOB has such a voice,” Waddell said.
Waddell said her advice to the candidates of Lady of the Bracelet is to be yourself.
“Be genuine,” Waddell said. “It’s going to get you far. The judges want to see you for who you are because you’re still that person at the end of the day.”
Avery Debelak, freshman competitor, said she wants students to know that all the contestants are supportive of one another and that they all have each other’s back.
“We’re working as a team,” Debelak said. “Even though it’s a single title, I feel like at the end of the day we all win that title.”
Admission is free, but donations for the Children’s Miracle Network will be accepted.