GC students make names for themselves with Miss K-State





It wouldn't be a stretch to say the recent Miss K-State competition at Kansas State University had a strong Garden City flavor.

The competition itself was the brainchild of Garden City student Russell Harp, a junior at K-State. And the winner of this year's competition, the second annual, who now has the title of Miss K-State event, was Garden City freshman Abby Alsop.

While serving as the philanthropy chairman for his fraternity, Delta Upsilon, last year, Harp was tasked with coming up with an idea to raise money for the fraternity's international charity, the DU Global Service Initiative, which sends chapter members to other countries and cities to help build schools in under-served areas.

"My fraternity had tried to do spring philanthropies, but nothing that they had attempted before succeeded. So me and my house mom, Kat Lopez, were kind of brainstorming one afternoon, and we came up with the idea of Miss K-State," Harp said.

Harp never imagined just how big of an event it would become. There were 17 contestants in 2013, its inaugural year, where over 700 people attended. This year, there were 20 contestants and over 1,000 in attendance.

"Last year, we raised a little less than $4,000, and this year we're still waiting, but we believe its going to be somewhere around $7,000," Harp said.

Last year's event was awarded the Inter-Fraternity Council (IFC) Philanthropy of the Year award at the 2013 K-State Greek Awards, held this past April. Harp also received the IFC Outstanding Chapter Member of the Year Award within the Greek community, which he received, in part, because of the competition, but also because he created two new positions for the fraternity — new member educator and Greek Week chair.

None of this was nearly as exciting to Harp as when he found out that Alsop was crowned Miss K-State.

"I was like, "Wait, Abby won? Are you serious? Abby Won?' I was just so happy," Harp said.

Alsop is a freshman who is majoring in microbiology. She said that Harp initially had to twist her arm a little.

"I was very reluctant because I didn't have any sort of experience with this. I really liked to perform — the talent round sounded interesting to me because that's something that I've done before, but the rest of it really scared me off for awhile," Alsop said. "But he convinced me to do it, and I'm so glad I did."

In the first round, called the "Wildcat round," contestants dressed in K-State gear and introduced the organization. Alsop represented her residence hall, Boyd Hall.

For her talent round, which was the second round of the competition, Alsop performed a two-minute excerpt from the play, '13 Things About Ed Carpolotti,' which she had performed once when she was in forensics at Garden City High School.

"She just stole the talent round. She won by far in that round. She had us laughing, and then she had us crying," Harp said.

Alsop said that she was a little nervous about performing the piece, at first, but that the audience was responsive and quick to "catch on."

Alsop and Harp weren't the only Garden Citians involved with the competition. Victoria Guzman, a sophomore representing her sorority, Sigma Lambda Gamma, also competed.

To qualify for the competition, contestants had to be collegiate members of their organizations they represented and have a grade-point average of 3.0 or higher.

After the first two rounds, the 20 contestants were whittled down to 10, and both Alsop and Guzman made the cut and then competed in two more rounds prior to the winner being announced,

In the third round, called "career round," another similarity between the two Garden City contestants came to light.

"It was kind of funny because both Abby and Vic are going to be dentists," Harp said, adding that they each did skits about their chosen career path.

Yet another Garden City student accompanied Alsop during the skit. Seth Alexander, a sophomore and fellow DU member, who also acted as Alsop's coach during the competition, dressed as the tooth fairy as Alsop threw tubes of toothpaste to the audience.

The Garden City connection didn't stop there. Alsop's lifelong friend, Charla Norquest, a junior at K-State, acted as her "stage mom" during the competition.

"It was fun to have a hometown crew for this event. It was really cool," Alsop said.

The fourth round was the "question round," in which contestants chose questions out of a bowl to answer for the four judges, who awarded points to the contestants throughout the competition.

"Nothing is judged by appearance. It's all based on intelligence, creativity, all those things," Harp said.

In that round, Alsop said, she was asked to describe K-State in one word and to explain the answer.

"I chose the word 'family.' I'm the third generation from my family to come to K-State — my grandfather walked to Manhattan to go to school at K-State," Alsop said. "And I've met so many people here who I would definitely consider my family."

The highest scoring contestant was crowned the winner. Never in her wildest dreams did Alsop think it would be her.

"I think it will be one of those flashbulb memories that will stick in my mind forever," she said. "I felt like there was a smile burned into my face."

Alsop received a tiara, sash, a bouquet of flowers and a trophy. Willie the Wildcat, the university's mascot, presented the crown, which was placed on Alsop's head by last year's Miss K-State, Kaitlyn Dewell.

"They had given me so many things to hold, and the crown was so big that when I started to walk out, you know, to have my first walk as Miss K-State, the crown slipped on my head and it was really embarrassing," Alsop said.

There were three runners-up recognized, as well, and Harp said that Guzman ended up finishing fifth.

Alsop said that as Miss K-State, she will be making appearances at homecoming and other events during the 2014-15 school year.

Harp credited the success of the competition to his fraternity brothers and others who helped.

"It could not of happened without the help of the committee,¬ the coaches and the¬ people helping backstage and in the lobby," Harp said, adding that this year's philanthropy chair, David Ecklund, was also to thank. "This year's event was even bigger and better because of his hard work."

To see photos of the competition, visit the Miss K-State DU Facebook page, www.facebook.com/MissKStateDU. To watch the competition in its entirety, visit youtube/28Wxl9KI8eM.

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