By Thomas Garcia
QCS Senior Writer
Two local women gained experience, confidence and insight after a week of engaging the public and taking part in variety of competitions during the 2016 Miss New Mexico and Outstanding Teen pageant held June 13-18 at Eastern New Mexico University in Portales.
“I gained a wealth of experience from competing in the Miss New Mexico pageant,” said Leah Taylor, Miss Quay County 2016.
Taylor, 21, is a 2014 Logan High School graduate and is a second-year student at ENMU. She was named as 2016 Miss Quay County on April 16 at a spring workshop at ENMU.
In preparation for the competition, Taylor said she spent time preparing mentally to improve on her interview skills.
“I spent a lot of time in prayer,” Taylor said. “I was also rushing around trying to get everything ready for the competition.
She competed against 30 contestant ages 17 to 24 participate in the Miss New Mexico contest.
Taylor said she is happy that she was able to improve on her interview and performance skills. She said her experience in the pageant has increased her desire to compete in future pageants.
“I have grown and matured as a result of the competition,” Taylor said. “I also want to pursue the scholarship opportunities offered through the pageant to further my education.”
Taylor is majoring in psychology with a minor in sociology.
While competing in the pageant, Taylor advocated for breast cancer awareness and education. She said this is an issue that affects women of all ages. As part of competing in the pageant, Taylor said she is excited and happy to help raise funds for the Children’s Miracle Network.
Taylor plans on competing in the Miss Portales Extravaganza later in November.
“My sister and I were very proud to have represented Quay County in these competitions,” Taylor said. “I look forward to representing Quay County in the future.”
Taylor’s excitement and eagerness to compete in another pageant are feelings that her sister, 17-year-old Lauralann, doesn’t quite share.
Lauralann, Miss Teen Quay County, also competed in Portales at the Miss New Mexico’s 2016 Outstanding Teen pageant that is open to teens aged 13 to 17.
“It was a lot of fun to meet new people and make new friendships,” Lauralann said. “However, taking part in the competition was very stressful and emotional for me.”
Lauralann said there are so many young women competing for one spot and while she found the competition enjoyable it was evident that many of the contestants were there for just one thing “to win.”
While competing, Lauralann was raising awareness for Alopecia areata, a type of hair loss that occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks hair follicles.
“I kind of want to go on competing and I kind of don’t,” Lauralann said. “I had such a fun time with all of the girls in the competition. I think I would like to be there for moral support instead of actually being in the competition.”
The two took part in the weeklong events in Portales that kicked off with the “Crown the Town” event in the Portales Square, visiting local businesses and chatting with local residents. They were also part of the Heritage Days celebration.
“The Miss New Mexico Scholarship Organization allows young women throughout the Land of Enchantment to earn scholarship money for college, cultivate their individual talents and speaking skills, develop self-confidence and poise, as well as the opportunity to serve their local communities,” said Greg Smith, executive director of the Miss New Mexico Scholarship Organization.