Delta Queen 2015: ∆ night of fun and philanthropy

Janine Ybanez/HIGHLANDER
Janine Ybanez/HIGHLANDER

UCR was home to the 2015 Delta Queen pageant Thursday night. Hosted by the Delta Tau Delta fraternity, the Delta Queen pageant allowed sorority members to go head-to-head in hopes of becoming Miss Delta Queen 2015. Participating sororities included Alpha Chi Omega, Delta Gamma, Pi Beta Phi, Kappa Kappa Gamma, Omega Zeta Chi and Sigma Kappa. Each of these sororities focused on philanthropy and the entire event was dedicated to raising money for the City of Hope foundation.

The Student Recreation Center North filled up with friends and family of the contestants, along with their fellow sorority sisters. Before the start of the event, sorority members chatted with one another while preparing their signs used to cheer on their representative in the pageant. And boy, were they excited. When I tell you the screams were deafening, I’m not exaggerating. By the time the girls made their way onto the stage, my ears were ringing. Various sorority chants could be heard echoing around the entire stadium at full volume as the six contestants performed an opening dance number. They pranced around the small black stage in a cutesy routine that generated a thunderous applause from the audience.

However, the reactions proved to be too much for some. Two young ladies made their way down to where I was sitting while complaining about the noise of some event-goers at the top of the stands. Eventually everyone settled down while pageant judge and City of Hope representative Michelle Vigue spoke about the important work and cancer research done at the treatment facility. She expressed her gratitude to the contestants who took the time to fundraise for their center and wished them luck before the start of the competition.

Starting off the skit portion of the program was Brittney Murray. Representing Sigma Kappa, Murray acted out several scenes from the comedy “Mean Girls” with a few helpers. Before being given a microphone halfway through the performance, it was hard to hear most of the dialogue. Nevertheless, the crowd cheered her on — I mean, who doesn’t like “Mean Girls?”

Each of the skits incorporated the values of the participating sororities, and the performances only continued to improve after Murray. Krystal Neag of Kappa Kappa Gamma performed a scene that focused on her sorority’s belief in the importance of reading, while Jordan Von Fleckles of Alpha Chi Omega performed a skit that centered around a rendition of “Dancing with the Stars” entitled “Dancing with the Greek” while speaking about her sorority’s focus on helping victims of domestic violence.

After the skits concluded, our attention was drawn to a picture of a young man on the projector. The image was of Jeremy Harrison, a UCR student who passed away from cancer 10 years ago. A dedicated Delta Tau Delta fraternity member and well-rounded student, Harrison made a positive impression on almost everyone he met. The Jeremy Robert Harrison Endowed Award Fund was started in his honor and a letter written by his father described the phenomenal person and friend Harrison was and always strived to be.

Following the tribute, audience members clapped respectfully before it was time for the talent portion of the event. Miss Delta Gamma, also known as Jasmin Joya, sang Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud.” The song began and we heard her voice — but had no idea where she was. Confused, audience members looked around before noticing Joya making her way down the steps in the bleachers. After Joya was Meghan Anderson representing Omega Zeta Chi. Anderson performed a colorguard routine, and as she effortlessly tossed the twirling flag into the air, her sorority sisters exuberantly cheering her on. Backed up by a pianist and a cellist, Halle Luna of Pi Beta Phi performed Disclosure’s popular hit “Latch” by Sam Smith. With strong vocals, Luna’s performance was one of the best of the evening.

Audience members got a chance to stretch with a 10-minute intermission before 23-year-old cancer survivor Nicole Shultz shared her story of pain and triumph. After being diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 14, Shultz began receiving treatment at the City of Hope. Despite having her world flipped upside down at such a young age, she grew to love the atmosphere and people at City of Hope. The sense of community at the treatment facility allowed Shultz to recover in good spirits. “Sometimes I feel more at home at City of Hope than I do at my own house,” she explained.

Shultz received a round of applause as she headed back to her seat at the judges’ table. All six contestants were escorted by their coaches as they participated in a formal walk. Donned in beautiful, and for the most part sparkly, gowns the participants strutted down the stage and playfully posed for the audience. The president of Delta Tau Delta gave a brief speech before each of the young women were given certificates by the City of Hope for their hard work. Finally, we were getting close to finding out who would become Miss Delta Queen 2015.

Murray, Neag and Joya all made it into the top three before being asked a final question about the importance of philanthropy. Each of their respective sororities screamed at the top of their lungs before it was announced that Delta Gamma’s Jasmin Joya would take home the crown. 2014’s Miss Delta Queen gave her the sash and crowned the beaming champion as she smiled and waved to those crowding near the stage to get a picture. Despite who won the pageant, each of these young women came together for an admirable cause and for that, they’re all winners.

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