June 7, 2002
Six Purdue students to compete for Miss Indiana title
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. Purdue University will have more students competing for the Miss Indiana crown next weekend than any other college or university in the state.
Six Purdue students will participate in the 22-person pageant, which will be Thursday through Saturday (6/13-15) at Indiana State University in Terre Haute. Preliminary and final rounds of competition begin at 7 p.m. each evening.
Micah Leigh Howard, a junior from Charlestown, Ind., who is majoring in international communications, will compete as Miss Harvest Homecoming. Howard says competing in pageants is a new experience for her.
"I got involved because I need scholarship money to pay my tuition," Howard says. "It turned out my volunteer work fit well with my platform."
Howard's platform is "Understanding the Depression, Realizing the Rainbow." To promote her platform, she works with a team of counselors to teach children that depression, like a thunderstorm, can pass, leaving a rainbow after the clouds break.
"It gives them somebody to explain their feelings to," Howard says. "Finding that rainbow makes it feel like everything will be OK."
Howard, who performs for the Purdue Musical Organizations as a Purduette, plans to sing an old jazz song, "Cry Me a River," during the talent competition.
"I fell in love with it when I heard it.," Howard says. "I had it suggested to me by a producer and it was just fantastic. I love jazz and this song is so much fun to sing. If it isn't fun, it's not worth doing."
Howard is confident that her experience performing as a Purduette will come in handy.
"PMO has been so good to me," Howard says. "PMO really has become a home away from home. I can't imagine my college experience without the Purduettes. Their support has been unwavering, and I really appreciate that."
Stacy Scheibelhut, a sophomore athletic training major from Auburn, Ind., will compete as Miss Northeast (Indiana). Scheibelhut serves as a twirler with Purdue University Bands. She plans to showcase that talent at the pageant. It's a talent she has been developing since she was in grade school.
"When I was 6, I saw a parade where there was twirling, and I told my mom I wanted to do that," Scheibelhut says. "I love it so much I can't describe it."
Another quality Scheibelhut possesses is perseverance. She displays that quality by accomplishing her goals despite having the symptoms of Bell's palsy, a viral condition that affects the nerves of the face and causes facial paralysis. Scheibelhut says she doesn't mind if the pageant judges notice that her smile is a bit off kilter. She credits her parents for not trying to steer her away from events that put her in the public eye.
"They never said to me, 'You can't do this'" Scheibelhut says. "They said, 'If it's what you want to do, do it.' They helped me a lot."
Marcy Jean Astrup, a recent organizational leadership graduate from Peru, Ind., also will compete as "Miss Purdue." Astrup, who has been competing in pageants for five years, says she is proud to represent Purdue.
"At first it was overwhelming," Astrup says. "I knew I had a big job to do representing the entire university. I feel that I am doing a good job doing what I need to do for the school."
Astrup says she is looking forward to speaking about her platform on family values, which she has been promoting at Miami County schools.
"I just feel that family values are what mold children, and if they're not stressed enough in their young lives, when children grow up they won't understand the importance of families themselves," Astrup says. "It'll be a never-ending cycle, and families will get weaker and weaker."
Astrup says she is fortunate to have a strong, supportive family.
"Without them I wouldn't be where I am today," Astrup says. "They're my rock. I know they'll always be there no matter what."
Other contestants who attend Purdue include Tangra Riggle, a junior communications major from Lafayette, Ind., who will compete as Miss North Central. Riggle, the oldest of 11 children, predicts that she will have one of the larger cheering sections in the audience since her entire immediate family will be in attendance.
She says she is looking forward to singing Celine Dion's version of "God Bless America" for the talent competition.
"It's a phenomenal version of the song," Riggle says. "Most people my age have never felt such patriotism in our lives, so it's appropriate to me and for our younger audience."
Riggle also appreciates the strong support of her local team that prepared her for the pageant.
"My local team has had two of the three last Miss Indianas," Riggle says. "They go out of their way to make sure I'm prepared. They even set up mock interviews for me with former Miss Indianas on the panel."
Riggle also has enjoyed promoting her platform, which is "The Wheels of a Dream: Fostering Educational Opportunities for a Brighter Future." To advance her platform, Riggle founded an educational center at a low-income housing development in Rensselaer. Staff at the center assist residents in pursuing college degrees via distance education on the computer. She also supports the Wheels of a Dream Children's Program, which rewards at-risk children for good grades with treats, trips to the movies and even 10-speed bikes.
Aleah Voelker, a junior organizational communications major from Goshen, Ind., will compete as Miss Elkhart County. Voelker's platform states, "Self Esteem is the Key to Unlocking Your Hidden Potential." Voelker says she chose to talk about self esteem because everyone can identify with issues relating to it.
"It's something that everyone deals with day in and day out their whole life," Voelker says. "It has a wide audience that can be motivated and worked with."
Voelker has addressed preschool and high school audiences on the topic.
For the talent competition, Voelker will sing the jazz/blues song "Since I Fell for You."
"My mother sang that to me when I was in her womb, so that is how we decided on it," Voelker says.
She says she is looking forward to competing with the other contestants from Purdue.
"I think it's great because I only knew one of these girls beforehand, and we'll have friendships we wouldn't have had otherwise," Voelker says.
Upon graduation, Voelker plans to pursue a career as an executive coach in international affairs.
"I want to conduct cultural diversity training within a large corporation so that they can increase their profit margins with overseas counterparts," Voelker says.
Completing the Purdue contingency is Krista Kober, who has one advantage over her competition. Kober, a senior in nursing from Liberty Center, Ind., participated in the pageant last year as Miss Purdue. She will compete this year as Miss Mideast.
Tickets for the two preliminary rounds are $15. Admission to the final competition is $20. A three-night package can be purchased for $35. To order, call (812) 237-3770. Tickets also may be purchased at the door.
CONTACT: Micah Leigh Howard, (812) 256-3060, MicahLeigh914@aol.com; Stacy Scheibelhutt, (260) 925-5917, firstname.lastname@example.org; Marcy Astrup, (765) 473-9473, email@example.com; Tangra Riggle, (765) 497-0192, firstname.lastname@example.org; Aleah Voelker, (219) 533-6080, email@example.com; Krista Kober, (219) 694-6368.NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: A publication-quality photo of Howard singing in the PMO Christmas Show is available at ftp://ftp.purdue.edu/pub/uns/howard.m.jpeg.
Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; firstname.lastname@example.org