Maria Rome broke into tears when she heard her name announced as the winner of the 2017 Lady of the Bracelet pageant. The emotions continued to ow as her Phi Mu fraternity big, the 2016 LOB winner Marissa McMickens, passed the crown to her little.
“Having my big crown me, I don’t think it could’ve gotten better than that,” Rome said. “She came up to me when they announced my name, and we both just started crying.”
This isn’t the first time a Phi Mu little followed in her big’s footsteps. McMickens’ big, Toria Thompson, also won the pageant in 2012, making this year’s family affair a record for the fraternity’s involvement in LOB.
Rome also won People’s Choice, the award determined by the audiences’ votes.
“When I got People’s Choice, it was so gratifying,” said Rome. “People liked me, and I was entertaining. But winning LOB was the icing on the cake. The fact that I successfully entertained a group of people was so awesome.”
Rome’s platform for LOB supported the Miracle League, an organization dedicated to helping children with disabilities form their own baseball teams. The platform is especially close to her heart, as she was once in the Children’s Miracle Network hospital for a back injury.
This year five girls competed in NSU’s pageant, a small turnout compared to the 12 girls who competed last year. Rome said that many of the girls decided not to compete because the pageant is so time-consuming.
With only five competitors, almost every participant won an award. Senior nursing major Emily Jackson won Miss Congeniality, junior hospitality and tourism major Stephanie Parker won swimsuit and first runner-up, and sophomore theatre major Erika Jarlock won talent with her vocal performance of “Gimme Gimme” from “Thoroughly Modern Millie.”
“Through NSU Theatre and Dance, I’ve been able to expand my talents,” Jarlock said. “It would be really cool to show people what the university has done for me and what I can do for it.”
The Miss Congeniality winner said that she competed out of her love for NSU.
“They have given me so many opportunities, and I would love to be able to give back to them,” Jackson said.
As the newly crowned Lady of the Bracelet, Rome will represent Northwestern for 2017. She also has the opportunity to win more titles, since LOB qualifies as a preliminary for Miss Louisiana, which is a preliminary for Miss America.
Rome said that she is excited to get to know the other women participating in the Miss Louisiana pageant.
“Girls with other preliminary titles are commenting [on social media] saying welcome to the Miss Louisiana Class of 2017,” Rome said. “I’m excited to make new friends and go through the process with the other girls. It’s other girls like me who went out and did a pageant, educated themselves and made lifestyle changes.”