Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Below is a “Breaking News” entry about Miss Stark County, Laura Estrada relinquishing her crown to First Runner-up Lauren Shatlock. Knowing Laura, I automatically assumed that the scheduling conflict which is preventing her from competing at Miss Ohio likely had something to do with her pursuit of a degree and career in classical vocal performance. Indeed that is the case. This morning she posted a “Statement of Miss Stark County Resignation” on the college networking site Facebook. It is with Laura’s permission that I am sharing the further details of the situation.

Laura has been accepted into the prestigious College Light Opera in Falmouth Massachusetts. Laura writes,

"When I applied for the opera company, I was led to believe that the summer program did not begin until June 25th…Therefore, I was under the impression that I would have at least a week between the last day of the Miss Ohio competition and my first day with the company.”

However, upon receiving her contract, Laura realized the arrival date was June 11th to begin rehearsals. Miss Ohio competition is from June 12th to the 16th. Laura was not granted an extension; if she did not sign the contract and arrive on time her position would quickly be filled by someone else. To be precise, she will be one of only seven sopranos in the company; around one hundred auditioned. Laura writes,

“I already knew that College Light Opera Company is the best of its kind, and that I was not only lucky to have been accepted, I might never have the opportunity to be part of that program again. The company is well known for producing talented singers who become very successful after participating in the program and that the program exposes its singers to important people who can further their careers. After careful consideration and discussion with my parents, voice teachers, and college advisors, I came to the conclusion that resigning my pageant title and accepting the position at College Light Opera would be the best for me. It was one of the most difficult and painful decisions I have ever had to make and I am still devastated that I was forced to make that decision.

Over the years, I have devoted much of my time and energy into the pageant system, and it is something that has become a huge part of my life. I have always loved being a part of the system and it has made me so happy and helped me improve in so many ways… I am heartbroken… I have been working so hard since I was crowned this year to make sure that this summer would really be special. Just the day before I was told I could not do both the pageant and the opera program, I had even had new photos taken of me in my crown to be used in the Miss Ohio Program.”

Speaking of the crown and such, Laura says she will be returning it. Sometimes in these situations the details of who gets to keep prizes and scholarships can become complicated, but Laura writes,

“I have given back the $1000 scholarship. I could not consciously keep the money when I know that another girl needs it just as much as I do, and since she will be competing at the state competition in my place and has little time to prepare, she deserves it more than I do.”

I felt compelled to share these specifics with my readers, as I very much sympathize with Laura. The facts are that the best opportunities for college students pursuing careers in music and theatre are through summer stock theatre programs. A large majority of women competing in pageants aspire to these careers, but are unfortunately forced to choose- state pageant or summer stock?

I never participated in summer stock theatre (specifically BG’s Huron Playhouse) because I competed at Miss Ohio five times. Like Laura, I was told there's no way anyone can arrive late; it hurts the production and the company. In retrospect, I did not prioritize correctly and if I had it to do again I would have sacrificed a year of pageantry for my career, or tried harder to find a program which starts later in the summer (although, I really don’t think they exist!). I don’t mean to sound unappreciative of the pageant titles I held or the scholarships I earned, but the reality is, I “put all my eggs in the Miss Ohio basket,” telling myself that being Miss Ohio could help my career as much as a summer stock theatre program, but I only made the Top 10 one of those five years!

Some pageant fans tend to criticize young women when they stop competing, or in Laura’s case, give up a title, but while a title is an honor and an opportunity, those fans need to realize that for some women it’s also a sacrifice… it’s a gamble! I guess it’s no wonder I kept trying to be Miss Ohio despite previous defeat, I’m a gambler, I love to play poker too!

As for Laura, I told her “I think you're doing the right thing; pageants can be a fluke, but there’s no denying you have a beautiful voice.” Best of luck to her, and I hope everyone will understand this as the bittersweet situation it is and support her. Again, congratulations to Lauren Shatlock, the new Miss Stark County.


  1. abby, seems as if we've been posting on the same events question for u is how do u get the quotes to show up. when i use that big quote button on the tool bar it just creates a hanging indent.

  2. What a way to deal with this in such a dignified manner, Laura!!! Kudos and best wishes to you!!!


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