Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Student Named ‘Miss Photogenic’ In Pageant

By Karina Martinez-CarterContributing Writer

Mirielle Cailles is an aspiring broadcast journalist, president of 1835 Hinman and, after last weekend, “Miss Photogenic.”

Cailles won the award at the Miss Illinois 2007 Pageant based on the headshot she submitted.

“It was one of those moments where I was in a daze and wasn’t sure if they had actually said my name,” the Medill sophomore said.

Cailles faced the judges along with about 100 other Illinois natives at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place in downtown Chicago between Nov. 17 and 19 for the annual pageant. Cailles answered interview questions to gauge her character and personality and strutted across the stage in a swimsuit and then in an evening gown.

Cailles said she was surprised to have won an award at the pageant because she was competing against many strong candidates.

“I was really surprised that I won the award,” she said. “I saw the pictures the other girls submitted, and they were all so pretty. I didn’t think mine particularly stood out.”

Cailles said the pageant was grueling, but the family members and friends she had in the audience kept her relaxed and upbeat.

“I definitely had the loudest crowd and most fans,” she said. “They all supported me and kept me smiling.”

After sending in an application and participating in a phone interview last spring, officials told Cailles she had been chosen to compete. She prepared for the pageant by raising money for the program’s cost, working out, monitoring her diet and practicing interview techniques.

Cailles’ boyfriend, Weinberg sophomore Rajeev Ranade, cheered for her from the audience. Before the pageant, Ranade said Cailles had a good attitude during pageant preparations.

“She’s preparing in a healthy way and not letting it be a real burden,” he said. “She knows that school and her life here are more important.”

Many contestants return each year, but Cailles said it was a “one-time thing” because she is “not really a pageant girl.” She said she’ll use the experience to improve her composure and public speaking for her broadcast journalism.

“I feel more confident now,” Cailles said. “Being on stage in a swimsuit with so many people watching was a big risk, and I’m proud that I did it.”

Miss Illinois USA was Cailles’ first major pageant. When she was younger, she participated in and won local competitions through Filipino organizations in the Chicago area.

“It wasn’t like ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ with creepy old guys watching girls in bathing suits,” Cailles said. “It was five or six girls among friends and family.”

Cailles’ brother Roland said the family knew she would eventually return to competing.

“She’s comfortable being the center of attention and on stage, but she’s still humble,” he said.

Pageants have always been part of Cailles’ family life. Cailles and her mother have regularly watched pageants together.

“While the Miss Universe Pageant was going on, my mom and I kept calling each other talking about which dresses we liked and who we thought would win,” she said.

But Cailles said her mother has never fit the “pushy stereotype” of a pageant mom. Her family has always supported her – sometimes to the point of embarrassment.

At a wedding a few weeks ago, Cailles’ father announced that she was a Miss Illinois contestant and showed her head shot to a few guests.

“I wanted to cry I was so embarrassed,” she said with a laugh.

Reach Karina Martinez-Carter at [email protected].

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Student Named ‘Miss Photogenic’ In Pageant