Indiana State University Newsroom

Student takes Miss ISU title for second time in four years

October 29, 2014

Sweeping across the University Hall Theater stage in a deep purple, asymmetrical-sleeved evening gown, senior Ayanna Sykes impressed the judges and audience for a second time, taking home the title of Miss Indiana State University 2015.

Initially winning the 2012 crown her freshman year, Sykes threw herself back into the competition exemplifying her titleholder experience qualities on stage.

"It takes a certain girl to pull off a dress like that," said Freda Luers, co-director of the Miss ISU pageant.

Sykes' natural beauty and skilled poise were not her only assets during the competition. The judges easily detected the dedication to her vocal performance of Ariana Grande's "Almost is Never Enough."

"Talent was a big one, because I knew it was the largest portion of the competition," Sykes said. "So I was super shocked to win the preliminary award for that. I'm very happy with my song."

Competing against eight other women, all of whom performed vocal or choreographed talents, Sykes landed the $1,500 scholarship and title for the second time. The health science major began her preparation for the competition this past summer.

"I started off correcting how I was eating and focusing on the most important part, which was being healthy," the Terre Haute native said, "and also learning how to speak correctly and learning how to communicate with others on an appropriate level."

Her speaking skills definitely showed during the interview portion of the competition. Further describing her answer to the onstage question regarding how she would continue to support her platform during her year of service, Sykes said, "My main focus at the moment for my year of service is more involvement and community engagement with ISU on campus. Not just myself, but with my fellow Sycamores and within the programs I'm involved in. I really do hope to have a crew of students who are interested in serving and giving back to the community."

Handing the crown over to Sykes was not complete without tears of gratitude from former Miss ISU Jessica Weesner, who reflected on the skills she developed through the help of the pageant.

"After winning the title, I was able to meet a lot of people [and] I think that was key for me in my senior year," she said. "Just networking [and] getting to know faculty, overall I think made me a better person."

Now that she is beginning her career, Weesner was able to implement some of the connections she made during the competition.

"I use a lot of my connections from Miss ISU just in everyday life as far as resume builders and starting my career," she said. "I have those different resources I can go to."

And she is happy to pass on that opportunity to someone else.

"I think whoever wins the title is going to make it her own, and I think that's what makes Miss ISU so special."

Sykes agrees. That's why she said it's imperative to the pageant to stay true to whom you are and what makes you unique.

"Being in any pageant in general, you can definitely lose yourself and [compare] yourself to other people just as much as people compare themselves to models on T.V. So you've definitely got to stay grounded and humble and know yourself," She said. "I think that's something that I definitely surpassed -- is focusing on my performance [and] focusing on myself, because we don't want to let comparison be the thief of our joy."

Although for right now, no one will be the thief of Sykes' joy, as she is ready to take on her senior year, learning new advantages to her position that she might not have had the opportunity to experience when she won during her freshman year.

Sykes will prepare to compete for Miss Indiana in June but until then she said, "I'm super honored to be Miss Indiana State University again and I really, really hope to definitely implement my platform within my community both at ISU and in Terre Haute, and I'm excited to see how this year is going to go for me."

First runner-up in the pageant was Leslie Ann Lindsay, a junior exercise science major from Farmersburg while Bailey Gorin, a junior aviation management major from Elizabeth, Ind. was named second runnerup. Aisa Terry, a senior recreation and sport management from Cloverdale was third runner-up and Alyssa Kalen, a sophomore speech-language pathology major from Terre Haute was fourth runner-up.

Photo: - Miss Indiana State University 2015 receives her crown from 2014 Miss ISU Jessica Weesner, with assistance from Madeline Webster and Geoffrey Koester. (ISU/Angelique Bokamba)

Photo: - Posing for the cameras following the Miss Indiana State University pageant on Oct. 25, 2014 are (left to right) third runner-up Aisa Terry, first runner-up Leslie Ann Lindsay, Miss ISU 2014 Jessica Weesner, Miss ISU 2015 Ariana Sykes, second runner-up Bailey Gorin and fourth runner-up Alyssa Kalen. (ISU/Angelique Bokamba)

Writer: Sadie All, media relations assistant, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3773,