Miss N.J. contestant puts best heel forward

Walking around on campus, you have probably never stopped to consider if any of your peers had the qualifications to be Miss New Jersey USA 2008. Lindsey Riesenberger, junior nursing major, was one of four College students to compete for the coveted Miss New Jersey USA 2008 title on Oct. 19-21.

Riesenberger was among over 100 New Jersey women from ages 18 to 26, competing for the crown. As this was her first time ever competing in a pageant, Riesenberger was ecstatic to make it as a semi-finalist, within the top 16 competitors.

The weekend-long competition for Miss New Jersey USA 2008 began with a preliminary interview with the judges on Friday, Oct. 19. “A panel of judges sits there and shoots questions at you . Coming up with answers to these questions was the hardest part of the whole thing,” Riesenberger said.

On Saturday, Oct. 20, the pageant began with an opening dance number in which all of the contestants wore cocktail dresses and performed together. “It’s really silly. It was so easy. It was great,” Riesenberger said.

The opening number was followed by the bathing suit competition and the evening gown competition. Since Riesenberger made it to the semifinals, she competed in the bathing suit and evening gown competitions both days of the pageant.

“I think it’s really important to have a sense of humor,” Riesenberger said. “A lot of the girls make fun of themselves. Everyone was awesome. I loved it.”

Riesenberger explained that she just couldn’t resist laughing every time someone fell. “People were falling left and right. It was hilarious,” she said. It was all in good fun as the girls were laughing with each other and at themselves, but not at each other. “It’s fun to be girly because I’m totally not,” she said.

Riesenberger was surprised by most of the girls she met at the pageant. She realized that a lot of reality TV concerning pageantry “makes pageant people look bad.”

“Erin and Jessica (former Miss New Jersey USA crown-holders) are both hilarious. I think it’s awesome that these two girls went on to the Miss USA competition on TV and they’re down to earth.”

Riesenberger is now considering competing in a few local pageants in order to get some practice. She is also considering getting a pageant coach, as many of the more experienced girls already have. She wants to be a pediatric nurse in oncology and if her busy nursing schedule allows for it, she plans to compete in the Miss New Jersey USA 2009 competition next year. “I keep saying it’s a once in a lifetime experience . but it’s not, because I can do it again,” she said.

Riesenberger believes that pageantry is a great confidence-builder and can help girls break out of their shells and express themselves. “I would recommend it to anyone. You’re celebrating what you have. If you have brains, you take care of your body and you want to be beautiful inside and out. I really think it’s important to be beautiful on the inside.”