For Lisa Patel, taking the stage in November’s Miss North Carolina USA competition will represent four years of work, preparation, and dreams.
“This is it for me, my last go around,” said Ashe County native Patel. “I knew the moment I stepped off the stage last year that I was going to do everything I could possibly do to come back this year and win.”
Miss North Carolina USA, one of America’s premier pageant events, is a qualifier for the Miss USA pageant that determines the USA’s entry in the Miss Universe competition. Competitors are judged in three areas: an inteview, swimsuit, and evening gown. Patel says a winner has to be superb across all categories.
“You really have to stand out in all areas. You have to be in great shape for the swimsuit competition, and the evening gown and interview are really judged on attention to detail,” said Patel.
Patel says her preparation over the past year has centerd on being in the best physical shape she can be, and working out the kinks in her interviews.
“They can really throw anything at you, as far as the interview,” said Patel. “You really have to be up-to-date on current events, and answer questions with confidence.”
Patel cited the current controversy surrounding the Troy Davis capital punishment case in the state of Georgia as an example interview topic. “Anything of national or international significance is potential fair game, and something I’ll have to be ready to answer,” said Patel.
Her interview preparation has centered on studying potential interview topics, and practicing mock interviews. “I’ve gone so far as to film myself giving interviews, and going back and studying what I did wrong,” said Patel with a laugh. “I hate listening to myself on camera, but it’s something I have to do to get better.”
A former basketball player at Ashe County High School, Patel said Laura Foster taught her the dedication necessary to succeed in the pageant world.
“All the work we did for Coach Foster has been a huge benefit to me. Foster helped me realize the foundation for winning is laid long before the actual competition,” said Patel. “Everytime I feel like I don’t want to work out…I just remember Coach Foster.”
Her preparation this year has even included the purchase of a custom evening gown in Atlanta, tailored exactly to fit her body. “I think my gown last year was a little too ‘busy’. I opted for something a little simpler this year, that was custom made to show off the girl underneath the gown, and not just the gown.”
Patel said the difference between her first try at Miss North Carolina USA three years ago and this year has been night and day. “When I first started, everything I did, I compared to the competition. ‘Is she better than me?’, ‘Should I do this, or that?’ I don’t think like that anymore,” said Patel. “I don’t want people to think the wrong thing, but I have every expectation that I’m going to win this year. I’ve put the work into it, and I really think I’ve got a good shot.”
Patel says her focus this year has been on winning Miss North Carolina USA, but said if she falls short, she hopes she earns a spot in the pageant’s top 15, which is the dividing line that earns competitors a spot in the pageant’s second day. Patel failed to reach the top 15 last year, and said making it to the second day of competition this year would be a great culmination to her pageant career.
“I only started competing four years ago,” said Patel. “I feel like I’ve come a long way in that time, learning everything as I went along. I would truly be happy with a top 15 finish…But I really want to win.”
However she ends up, Patel said she has really enjoyed the competition process, and thinks it will help her in the future.
“My confidence is so much higher than where I started,” said Patel. “I’ve done things I never would have dreamed, and I think that’ll really help me down the road.”
Patel said tickets to the Nov. 11-12 show in High Point are still available, including front row seats, and sponsorships in support of Patel’s bid for Miss North Carolina USA are also available; contact Patel at 828-773-7747.
“A lot of people have helped me get here, and I really want to thank them all,” said Patel.