IU Jacobs School of Music student Gabrielle Reed crowned Miss Indiana
For Indiana University Jacobs School of Music student Gabrielle Reed, the third time was the charm. After two unsuccessful attempts at the Miss Indiana crown, including a second runner-up honor in 2009, the 22-year-old voice major was crowned Miss Indiana Saturday, June 26, at the 70th annual Miss Indiana Scholarship Pageant in Zionsville, Ind.
The former Miss IU will represent Indiana in January at the 2011 Miss America Pageant in Las Vegas.
Reed was one of 29 women between the ages of 17 and 24 vying for the title of Miss Indiana and one of five contestants who have attended IU. First runner-up Brittany Hagan of Fort Wayne, 22, is also an IU student.
A number of past Miss Indiana winners have connections to the Jacobs School, including the 2009 winner, alumna Nicole Pollard, and the 2006 winner, Betsy Uschkrat, who was studying at the Jacobs School when she was crowned.
The pageant began Sunday, June 20, when contestants participated in the Zionsville Merchants Pet Parade. The 29 women then took part in two preliminary evenings of competition at the Zionsville High School Performing Arts Center, with competitions in talent, lifestyle and fitness in swimwear, eveningwear and onstage questions.
Reed, a Jacobs School senior studying voice with Alice Hopper, won a preliminary talent award for her performance of "You'll Never Walk Alone."
"The greatest thing about Alice is that her students are her No. 1 priority. She really helps them achieve whatever goals they want to reach," Reed said, adding that Hopper's positive but realistic attitude helped her gain the confidence she needed to succeed in the pageant.
"Without the training I've been immersed in at the Jacobs School, I wouldn't have been able to walk on stage or sing as confidently. You have to go into that school with confidence everyday to be successful."
Reed's platform -- "Empowerment from the Start, Communities Preventing Domestic Violence" -- is one that hits close to home.
"My mother was in a domestic violence situation when I was in high school. The verbal abuse in the house definitely affected me when I started dating in high school," Reed said. Upon entering college, Reed moved out of her mother's house, eventually finding the inner strength to volunteer at Middle Way House, a Bloomington-based domestic violence and rape crisis center. She credits that volunteer experience with helping to shape her own views on healthy relationships. "I had to learn that," she said. "It was never instilled."
Growing up, Reed never thought about competing in pageants. "I competed in Miss IU because I needed to pay for school. If I hadn't won, I wouldn't have been able to pay the rest of my tuition that year."
Reflecting back upon the first time she competed in the Miss Indiana pageant, Reed laughed and described herself as "a mess."
"I didn't make top 10, I didn't win any awards -- but I saw so many girls who had gotten so much out of it." That was enough for Reed to come back and compete a second time in 2009 as Miss Heart of Indiana, when she was named second runner-up. This year, she finally nabbed the title as Miss Southern Heartland.
Reed was crowned by her friend Nicole Pollard, last year's Miss Indiana and a finalist in the Miss America 2010 pageant.
Second runner-up in this year's pageant was Diana True, 23 of McCordsville; third runner-up was Jessica Butler, 24 of Fort Wayne; and fourth runner-up was Rachael Bazzell, 20, of LaPorte.
The upcoming year will be a hectic one for Reed as she balances preparing for Miss America with promoting her platform and the Miss Indiana organization as much as possible. "The great thing about Miss Indiana is that it forces you to assess who you are and who you want to be," she said. "You cannot be a title holder without knowing who you are."
During her studies at IU, Reed was a part of the opera chorus for The Magic Flute. The highlight of her college career came when she was accepted to the Jacobs School, an achievement that took her more than one audition to accomplish.
"I came from a very non-musical background and didn't have any musical training until my first year of school at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne," said Reed, who transferred to IU after one year at IPFW. "I was playing catch-up with my vocal ability when I got here, but now I'm in the School of Music and on the same level as my peers."
Reed will take a year off from her studies to fulfill her duties as Miss Indiana, but will continue to take voice lessons in Bloomington. When it comes time to graduate, Reed says she'll miss the town's diversity. "There are a lot of characters in Bloomington and a lot of socially aware groups. The level of awareness in Bloomington is something I'm going to miss."