Kelly Jifon has been crowned as Miss TAMUK 2017, replacing former pageant winner Tessie Ledesma and winning a scholarship prize of $2,000.
Student Government president David Barrera began the night with a hearty “Good Evening” before inviting his co-host Ledesma on stage to commence with the competition. The crowd was greeted by a ribbon performance acted out by the candidates, dancing to “Starry, Starry Night,” completing the night’s theme—the setting of the famous Van Gogh painting “Starry Night.”
The candidates then introduced themselves during the casual wear competition, giving insight into their majors and aspirations; the previous day the competitors had completed personal interviews with the judges. Before the questioning rounds began, TAMUK’s trumpet guild gave their competition performance for the packed crowd.
The question-and-answer period consisted of a single question: “What is an issue college students face today and what can you do as Miss TAMUK to help eliminate that struggle?”
Candidates tackled issues like: loneliness, mental health, home-sickness, financial issues, and even cellphone use; each giving a unique perspective on solutions to the issue.
Following the intermission, candidates participated in an evening gown contest before the top three contestants were chosen for a final questioning round. Belize Escobar-Ellison, Elyssa Benavides, and Jifon were chosen to advance, and prepared themselves for the final questions. In the meantime, the crowd was treated to a ballerina performance by a local Guatemalan artist Brenda Flores.
Ledesma gave her final walk as Miss TAMUK before the winner of the pageant was announced, “I hope I have made you proud as Miss Texas A&M University- Kingsville 2016,” she continued by giving advice to the future Miss TAMUK, “… remember to wear the crown not just on your head, but wear it in your heart.”
The judges – Jackie Guerrerro, Matthew S. Manning, and Lisa Turcotte – deliberated and finally announced the winners: Miss Congeniality went to Escobar-Ellison, who also won second runner-up of the contest; and Miss Photogenic was awarded to Clarissa Gonzalez.
In addition, second place was given to Elyssa Benavides, and Miss Lantana and the new Miss TAMUK was awarded to Kelly Jifon.
The competition has a proud tradition dating back to Texas A&I when it was still called the Miss Lantana contest, named for the beautiful flowers well-known in the region.
Miss TAMUK 2017 will be taking on a major leadership role in the community, taking on responsibilities such as charity work and speaking roles. We hope she looks forward to the opportunity.