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By NICK TODARO

Staff Writer

Molly Causey, a junior accounting major, was crowned the new Miss Tech 2004 on Jan. 22 in Howard Auditorium, Center for the Performing Arts.

Causey said she held her breath for the final moments before she was told she had won the crown.

"I feel great right now," Causey said. "I'm so excited, but I don't know that I'm ready for Miss Louisiana."

Causey said she has been preparing for the pageant lifestyle for years.

"It really is a way of life," Causey said. "I had an interview coach and a coach for my piano performance who worked with me closely for months. I've been competing in pageants for years, and I've been to Miss Louisiana pageants representing other titles for the past two years."

Causey performed a piano composition of "Rhapsody in Blue" by George Gershwin for the talent portion of the competition.

During the stage interview portion of the evening, Causey said her program platform, "I've Got the Power," is a way for her to reach out to kids.

"It brings me into schools with kids from fourth to sixth grade," Causey said. "'I've Got the Power' helps teach children how to make decisions, not what decisions to make."

The reigning Miss Louisiana and former Miss Tech 2003 Melissa Clark, a 2003 alumna, was master of ceremonies for the evening's pageant.

Causey was chosen from five finalists. First runner-up was Natalie Berlin, a freshman basic and career studies major; second runner-up was Jessica Tucker, a senior electrical engineering major; third runner-up was Krystal Penuell, a senior marketing major; and fourth runner-up was Lauren Bischoff, a junior professional aviation major.

Contestants were judged on talent, evening wear, swimwear and a private interview conducted earlier in the day.

Each event counted for a portion of the total score. Talent counted for 30 percent, the 10-minute private interview counted 40 percent and the eveningwear, swimwear, and lifestyle competitions each counted 10 percent of the total score.

Miss Tech 2003 and Student Government Association President Jennifer Porter passed her crown along that night. After the 14 contestants finished, Porter, a senior marketing major, took a final walk as Miss Tech, which brought tears to her eyes.

Porter received her title from Clark, winner of last year's competition, who went on to become Miss Louisiana.

Due to the rules of the Miss America Organization, contestants are only allowed to hold one title, and since Porter was first runner-up, she received the Miss Tech title. In the event that Causey wins the Miss Louisiana title, first runner-up Berlin will become the reigning Miss Tech.

Porter said Causey "really has a chance to become Miss Louisiana.

"That would be great for Tech and for her as well. She was last year's second runner-up at Miss Louisiana and has been in pageants for a while, so she knows what she's doing."

Berlin said after the show she was happy with what had transpired.

"We're all good friends, so I'm glad for Molly," Berlin said.

Berlin hit a high note during her performance of the Italian love song "Time To Say Goodbye," which won her the talent portion of competition. That took the audience aback, and she immediately broke into a wide smile.

"That was exactly what I wanted," Berlin said.

When it came down to the tense moment on stage to announce the order of the five finalists, Clark had to stall the audience with an anecdote to allow the judges time to tabulate their votes.

"I'm glad I'm not the one up there," Clark said during the quiet moment. "These girls are so nervous; I'd hate to be in their shoes."

Causey was visibly stricken with emotion when she was announced the winner, and her Kappa Delta sorority sisters exploded with cheers from the front of the auditorium.

Pageant coordinator Sara Descant, a sophomore English education major, said if she knows Causey, the honor will not go to her head.

"I think that she'll be absolutely back to normal once the initial rush wears off," Descant said.

This year was Descant's first time to run the Miss Tech pageant, and she admits what at first seemed like fun turned into a headache.

"It is a lot of work," Descant said. "But for all the stress, it was fun. It may sound funny, but I want to do it again next year."


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