'Miss Southeasterns' sweep Miss Louisiana honors -- Blair Abene wins crown
Contact: Christina Chapple
HAMMOND – The current and two former holders of the “Miss Southeastern” title at Southeastern Louisiana University swept the top honors at the Miss Louisiana pageant in Monroe Saturday night (June 21) with senior voice and mass communication major Blair Abene of Hammond winning the crown.
Abene is the first Southeastern student to be crowned Miss Louisiana since Phyllis Kelly claimed the title in 1978.
Current Miss Southeastern Brandy Hotard, a nursing major from Port Allen, was second-runner up, a "phenomenal achievement" for a first-time Miss Louisiana contestant, said Jason Leader, coordinator of Southeastern’s Campus Activities Board, the Miss Southeastern pageant sponsor. Miss Southeastern 2003 Jennifer Soileau was first runner-up and piano performance major Kristen Hilliard of Covington, Miss Southeastern 2007, was among the top 10 finalists.
Competing as Miss Lincoln Parish, Abene, Miss Southeastern 2006, earned the state crown with what news reports described as "a powerful performance" of Puccini's "Nessun Dorma." She also won the "Miracle Maker Award" for raising the most amount of money -- more than $19,000 -- for Miss Louisiana's charity, the Children's Miracle Network. Along with Abene, Soileau, Hotard and Hilliard were the pageant's top Children's Miracle Network money-raisers with their combined efforts gathering $49,588.
Abene also received the pageant's academic award for highest grade point average and was a preliminary talent winner on Friday night.
"I am ecstatic, I can't even believe this is real," she said.
Abene will compete on January 24, 2009 in Las Vegas for the Miss America crown. She will live in Monroe for the next year as she makes numerous appearances and performs other duties as the Miss Louisiana. According to Leader, she is already involved in activities related to the Miss America pageant, including taping promotional spots for "Miss America Reality Check," The Learning Channel television show associated with the national pageant.