Reminiscence and purple fluorescent light engulfed Kaitlyn Dewell as she revisited McCain Auditorium, the same stage where she received the Miss K-State crown 10 years ago.
“It was really nostalgic to be back on the stage, which is essentially where I got my performance start as an entertainer,” Dewell said. “I did not study music but it was my outlet. … So being back here with the Miss K-State organization and being able to perform on stage at McCain again was a full circle moment for me. It was really just super fun.
The Miss K-State competition is an annual philanthropy event hosted by Delta Upsilon fraternity to benefit underdeveloped communities abroad through the Delta Upsilon Global Service Initiative. Seventeen women from different K-State organizations compete in four rounds for the title of Miss K-State. The winner receives $200 for a philanthropy of their choice, a $500 scholarship and a platform to spread their mission, Kade Kaufman, Delta Upsilon philanthropy chair, said.
“It is a great way to represent your organization, especially for non-greek contestants because some people may not have heard of their organization,” Kaufman, junior in biology, said. “So, this gives them a platform to talk about their organization and what they are passionate about. For the greek community, it is great for all the sororities to talk about how much their sorority impacts them and their passions.”
Sophie Schneider, Miss K-State 2023, said she was proud to represent Chi Omega.
“Another amazing part of the Miss K-State pageant is the support you receive from your organization,” Schneider said. “It was such a neat opportunity to represent Chi Omega and feel their love along the way. It allowed me to grow closer to the girls of not only my own sorority but also the women of all the other organizations represented tonight.”
Schneider said she will use her platform to bring awareness to food insecurity.
“I volunteered with Cats Cupboard last year and it opened my eyes to a need to advocate for the hungry students here within our own campus,” Schneider, freshman in chemical engineering, said. “I am excited to use my platform as Miss K-State to be an advocate for student-led change and spreading the word about things I am passionate about.”
Kaufman said this year’s event focused on highlighting the past ten years.
“Other years we try to get K-State officials out there as judges … but this year we wanted to make the focus on the history of the event and appreciating the women who have given their time and effort to the event as a whole,” Kaufman said. “So, we invited back all of our winners and we were able to get six of the last ten here as judges and last year’s winner as an emcee.”
Schneider said it was special to have the previous winners back for the competition.
“I think that all of them are very unique examples of what it means to be a woman of K-State,” Schneider said. “I could just feel their strength from the stage.”
Schneider said the event embodied K-State pride.
“The atmosphere was unlike anything I had ever been a part of,” Schneider said. “I could feel everyone’s support and there was so much K-State pride that I could feel on stage. I feel like it was the perfect opportunity for K-State to be proud of what we are accomplishing. I felt so grateful to be a part of that whole experience.”
Dewell said, “the boys of Delta Upsilon have the event down to a science,” and the competition becomes more refined each year.
“One of the biggest differences is the way the women have prepared,” Dewell said. “My first — well everyone’s first — Miss K-State, no one really knew what to expect. It was a brand new event. … The showmanship has been so elevated over the past few years, and everytime I come back, it truly is another level up.”
Meet Miss K-State 2023
Although she never participated in a pageant, Sophie Schneider took the stage on Tuesday in the Miss K-State competition to represent her sorority, Chi Omega.
Schneider, freshman in chemical engineering, took home not only the title of Miss K-State but also Miss Congeniality.
“Miss Congeniality is the biggest honor,” Schneider said. “It meant so much to me to be named Miss Congeniality because it was voted on by my fellow contestants. I am proud because it is a true testament to character both on and off stage. For the girls to recognize me for that, it means a lot and feels like a big compliment.”
Schneider showed the crowd her dedication to health and wellness throughout the competition.
“Ever since I was a little girl I have been very passionate about health and wellness,” Schneider said. “Since then, I have committed myself to finding different organizations and ways that I can continue advocating for food insecurity and access to healthy foods.”
Schneider has worked with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Dairy Council, Centers for Disease Control, GENYOUth, National Football League, Dairy Management Incorporated, the American Center for Pediatrics and Fuel Up to Play 60.
“In middle school I traveled to the USDA building in Washington D.C to speak on a panel about the future of the school meal program,” Schneider said. “This past summer, through my involvement with Fuel Up to Play 60 and GENYOUth, I was asked back to DC to speak to wellness organizations about the importance physical activity and eating right has on school’s performance and overall well-being. Coming to K-State and being introduced to Cats’ Cupboard has felt like a full circle moment for me, and I look forward to continuing to serve my community throughout my time at K-State.”
Last year, Schneider spoke at the NFL annual meeting about the value of youth wellness programs and how they impact communities.
Schneider said this passion inspired her career path, which she showed the crowd during the career round of the competition.
“Chemical engineering — there is so much you can do with it,” Schneider said. “For me specifically, I would like to tie that into food sustainability and connecting people to the food we are putting on the table. My major allows me a neat chance to combine service with science, and it is something I am really looking forward to advocating for throughout my time at K-State.”