Keighley Kelley: Miss LSU-USA 2019
My journey to become Miss LSU-USA started when I was 13. I had just competed in and won my first pageant and was attending Miss LSU for the first time. I sat in the audience in pure awe and bliss and met Miss LSU-USA 2011, Christina Fammularo Rodrigue. After hearing about everything she did to make a difference in her community and campus as Miss LSU, I knew that I also wanted to be Miss LSU one day. Fast-forward to 2017, I finally got to compete as a freshman after years of watching the pageant and becoming friends with many of the former titleholders. Throughout my freshman and sophomore year, I worked hard to stay educated on topics on campus and in our community and really show I had what it took to be an ambassador for our campus as Miss LSU. Going into the pageant this year, I decided it would be my final pageant as I was approaching graduation the following year and wanted to give it everything I had. Luckily the judges saw that, and it worked in my favor. I can say this year competing was something special. There were no nerves or stress, and it was just me wanting to show the very best version of myself and why I was the most qualified to be Miss LSU-USA 2019.
How do you plan to use your platform as Miss LSU?
I plan to use my platform as Miss LSU-USA 2019 to bring awareness to suicide education and prevention. I really want to educate the student body about the mental health resources on campus and let them know they are not alone. This has always been a really important platform for me to share because I too have suffered with anxiety and depression and watched love ones pass from the tragedy of suicide. Mental health and suicide affect all college campuses and is the third leading cause of death among adolescents. I believe that we need to educate and put an end to the stigma associated with mental health.
What was it like competing with other zetas every year?
Competing with other zetas was an amazing experience. There was another zeta every year that I competed, and it really was nice having a familiar face and someone I could lean on and practice with. It's less about the competition aspect and more of the fact that I was getting to take part in this amazing experience with my sisters. It was even more special because Christina Fammularo Rodrigue was the first Miss LSU titleholder I ever met, and she was a Zeta as well. Now, we get to share not only being sorority sisters, but also Miss LSU sisters.
What was recruitment like for you?
When I went through recruitment, I didn’t know anything about sororities or the recruitment process. I knew a few graduated Zetas and watched their time in greek life but that was it. I went in to recruitment with a very open mind and really just wanted to find where I would best fit and belong. I had the most amazing recruitment process and truly enjoyed meeting all of the girls up and down the row, but at the end of the day, when I walked into zeta it gave me a special feeling. The girl who rushed me is now my grandbig and is truly a gift. Even though she is graduated now, she is a huge part of why I went zeta and one of my role models today. I did not know a single person in zeta on bid day, but now my best friends and I are all zetas. I wouldn't want it any other way.
To my best friends: Maddy, Taylor, LeeLee, and Hannah, I would not be Miss LSU without you. You girls were really the ultimate pageant coaches. From staying up late to practice with me, to drilling me with interview questions, to being my personal chauffeur on the day of the pageant and my number one cheerleader. This win wasn't just for me. I will never be able to replace the feeling of running to you all after crowning. You have been by my side through the good times and the bad, and I am so blessed to have you as my best friends.
To all of my Zeta Tau Alpha sisters: thank you for the constant good luck and warm wishes. The support I have felt is immeasurable. ZLAM.
To anyone interested in recruitment: Go in with an open mind and trust the process! You will end up where you belong. All of the sororities up and down the row are amazing and whatever letters you end up wearing, wear them with a passion for service and sisterhood. Greek Life at LSU is special to be a part of, and we really do get to make a difference on campus, so take advantage and get involved.
To anyone interested in Miss LSU: Do not give up. If it is something that matters to you, fight for it and trust in God's plan. Looking back, I know why I didn't win my first two years competing, and I'm glad I did not win then because I would not deserve or appreciate it as much this year. Trust in yourself and through the good times and bad, don't lose yourself. Stay true to your beliefs and your goals will follow in ways you never imagined.