Jun. 22—GEORGETOWN — After being named Miss Indiana, a Southern Indiana native is looking forward to making a difference in communities and serving as a positive role model.
Elizabeth Hallal, a 2019 graduate of Floyd Central High School, was named Miss Indiana at Saturday's pageant in Zionsville. The title comes with $11,000 in scholarships and allows her to advance to the Miss America pageant in December.
Hallal, a native of Georgetown, is a senior studying musical theater at Ball State University. She didn't expect to win the statewide title, she said.
"Actually going into Saturday night, I was just thinking, I hope I get to perform tonight, because only the top 11 finalists get to perform on finals night. That was my goal, and I'm just astounded — I'm just absolutely blown away at the opportunities I've had through this organization and the opportunities that I know I will have now because of this new (Miss Indiana) sash."
The Miss Indiana competition involved a talent competition, a red carpet competition, a social impact pitch and a private interview.
"On stage, you can see the red carpet competition, which is kind of what people think of," she said. "What's really interesting about this is it's not actually scored at all based on your appearance. They want to see how you present yourself, if you can walk confidently across the stage."
For the talent competition, Hallal performed the song "Defying Gravity" from "Wicked." This was her favorite part of the competition, and it was worth almost half the score.
"It's a very important thing to be able to express yourself," she said. "I'm a singer, but you don't just have to sing or dance — there are so many unique talents on the stage. A young girl this year did a martial arts demonstration, we've had science demonstrations in the past. I think it's a really cool way for women to show things they are passionate about."
In the social impact pitch, Hallal talked onstage about her goals as Miss Indiana and how she will focus on her platform of arts accessibility. She will travel the state to provide "artistic opportunities to people of lower income communities and of varying backgrounds," she said.
She did not grow up with a lot of money, she said, and she would not be able to achieve her dream of pursuing the arts if not for people who gave her opportunities despite her financial challenges, she said.
"I have the opportunity to work with schools to promote arts education within the schools, but I'm also very passionate about arts opportunities for those who might not have access to it everyday," Hallal said. "It's one of those things that unless you can afford to pay for the lessons or you're accepted widely in the community, they're not really open opportunities for everyone."
As Miss Indiana, she "has this platform to showcase what it means to support other women" and "to be a giver and do service for your community."
She recalled the moment when she was named Miss Indiana. She was standing with her friend and the first runner-up, Olivia Broadwater.
"The two of us were standing there and holding hands, and I can just remember thinking, well OK, I'm going to be Olivia's first runner-up, and I was so excited about that, because in my mind, I was like my best friend is going to be Miss Indiana and I'm going to get to go to Miss America and cheer her on."
As Hallal realized she had received the Miss Indiana, she was in "complete shock," she said, and she got to experience that exciting moment with her best friend.
Hallal began her involvement in pageants in 2018 when she competed for Miss Harvest Homecoming. At the time, she was competing "just for fun" and to possibly earn some scholarship money, she said.
She competed again in the local pageant in 2019 and was named Miss Harvest Homecoming. This provided her a chance to participate in the 2020 Miss Indiana competition, which was postponed due to COVID-19.
She received her chance to compete in Miss Indiana in 2021, and she placed in the top 11. This year, she won Miss Southern Heartland before going on to this year's Miss Indiana pageant.
Miss Indiana is "all about empowering women to take the next steps for their future," she said. In addition to the Miss Indiana scholarship, she also won an extra $2,000 in scholarships from preliminary competitions last week.
"I truly think that the Miss Indiana and Miss America organizations put their money where their mouth is and are sure to make sure the opportunities they are providing for women are not just to be seen on stage but also to continue their passion and further their dreams by pursuing higher education."
As she moves forward, Hallal's dream is to make it to Broadway as a performer, she said. She also would like to get a master's degree in vocal pedagogy so she can teach voice lessons at the collegiate level.
"I've always believed that if you work hard for something, you can make it happen," she said. "I never saw myself as Miss Indiana, but here I am, so I know that if I continue to work toward my dreams, it's something that could be in my future."