Nine contestants competed for the Miss UL title as well as the opportunity to be a contestant in the Miss Louisiana pageant on March 15, at Angelle Hall in the University Program Council’s Miss UL pageant.
Troie Acker, a junior majoring in engineering, was crowned Miss UL 2020. She is originally from Lafayette, Louisiana.
Acker said going into the competition, “I was lacking a little bit of confidence, but I knew if I brought my all to the stage it would be okay.”
She is “extremely excited, honored and proud” to be an ambassador for UL Lafayette and said she wants to “show how proud and how great it is to be a Ragin’ Cajun” when moving forward to compete in Miss Louisiana.
The pageant was hosted by its director and UPC member, Hannah Bertrand; 2019 Miss UL title holder, Taja White; and 2020 winner of Miss Louisiana, USA, Mariah Clayton.
Taja White also helped coach and support this years’ contestants. She said the focus of this years’ pageant was different and more concentrated on team building and making sure the contestants were comfortable with themselves and each other.
After the pageant, White said she was excited to pass down her crown to Acker, her successor.
“This has been a wonderful experience and something I’ve been looking forward to,” White said. “I’m sure she (Acker) is going to do amazing things; this is something she’s been looking for and I’ll always be here if she needs anything.”
Before the pageant, Bertrand said she was excited for the girls and proud of them for all their hard work. She said she felt that the girls this year made it harder for the judges and that she saw “each contestant grow a lot with each practice.”
Indya Davis, a second semester freshman majoring in broadcasting, placed in the top five of this years’ pageant. She is from Mobile, Alabama, and competed in pageants as a child until she was 11.
Miss UL was her first competition since her childhood, and before the competition she said:
“It’s different because when I was younger I just did beauty pageants, but now there’s swimsuit and a whole bunch of other stuff. It’s a big shift coming from the ‘Toddlers and Tiaras’ type of thing.”
Davis favored the interview portion of the competition because “the judges get to see you on a personal level besides just your face.”
Going into the pageant, Davis said the support of Hannah and the other girls is what inspired her and pushed her to compete.
“I was scared at first about it because of being in a swimsuit,” Davis said. “I was thinking, ‘Everybody who does swimsuit, they’re not my size. I’m not the ideal size you see in a swimsuit.’ It gave me inspiration, and everybody was encouraging me so I decided to do it … I’ve never had a bond with a group of girls in my division like I have at Miss UL.”
Nevaeh Bonck, a freshman majoring in business management, was also a contestant in this year’s pageant.
Being from a small community in Grand Isle, Louisiana, attracted Bonck to compete in Miss UL:
“I come from a really small town, and looking at it I saw this was my opportunity to do something or represent something that’s bigger than what I come from and what I’m used to,” Bonck said.
She said her favorite part about the pageant process was who it helped shape her into as a person and that it made her have confidence in her own skin.
Bonck said: “Pageants really seemed to fit my personality, and as a child I was never really put into things. I saw this as my opportunity.”
She described the pageant environment as encouraging and supportive much like Davis. She said Bertrand, White and the other girls were really helpful.