The crowd erupted into screams as Marianne Bautista ’20 was declared Miss Teen Washington U.S.A. 2019 at the Highline Performing Arts Center in Burien, Wash. on November 3. Her win has advanced her to the Miss Teen U.S.A. pageant in March of 2020.
Bautista was surprised that she placed in the top five ranking of the competition, and even more so when she was crowned the winner.
“They called my name, which [was] for the winner of the title. I just had this wave of relief crash over. Everyone was so anxious and everyone started screaming backstage, and it was really great. It was such an exciting moment and it was pretty shocking, because I was just not expecting [it],” said Bautista.
Contestants in the pageant went through multiple rounds of competition: an interview with a panel of judges, a formalwear segment, and a fitness wear portion. Additionally, each contestant created platforms to tackle issues that they were passionate about. Bautista’s platform centered on issues of neurological disorders, which she raised awareness for on social media and at school.
“I made up a hashtag ‘#LetsBeNeuroAware.’ It’s mainly about people with neurological disorders… We hear a lot about very common neurological disorders, but I wanted to focus on rare neurological disorders happening in the world today, especially in developing countries. That’s basically what my platform is centered around… At school, I co-founded Neuroscience Club and that speaks to a little bit of my platform,” said Bautista.
Bautista competed in Miss Washington Teen U.S.A. two years ago, and she competed in Miss Massachusetts Teen U.S.A. last year. She has been competing in pageants since she was eight years old and finds them to be a way for girls to “boost [their] confidence and learn many different skills.”
Liam Arce ’20, a friend of Bautista’s, is proud of her achievement and feels that pageants have made her more confident. Bautisa’s pageantry has also helped her improve in musical theatre, according to Arce.
“I was very happy because I [felt] she really [deserved] it. When I met her, she had just given up her crown for Miss Washington Junior Teen 2016. Over the past few years, she has been trying to win another title. She has been working really hard towards winning another title and has been developing her platform…The pageants have helped her with her confidence and composure, not only in musical theater but in everyday life,” said Arce.
Bautista prepared for the pageant by practicing interviews with her pageant coach and her mother via Skype on weekends. She also worked on the other areas of competition, such as walking in heels, staying healthy and preparing mentally.
Kylie Lough ’22, one of Bautista’s teammates on Andover Crew, remarked at her ability to balance her commitments at school and participate in the pageant.
“I honestly have no idea how she balances all of it. I know that she is very very good at time management, and she never stalls. She seems to always be doing something. She always has something on her mind. She always knows exactly what she has to do, and when she has to do it… I am super, super proud of her, and I hope that she enjoys every second of being Miss Washington Teen U.S.A.,” said Lough.
Bautista believes that pageants have positively influenced her as an individual. In reflecting back on her title, she hopes that her win can send a message about the perceptions about girls who compete in pageants.
“I remained focus and centered throughout the whole competition because [in] pageantry, there is some preconceived notion that pageants aren’t necessarily for girls who are smart or girls who are very knowledgeable… By winning the title, I definitely want to show and demonstrate that a title holder can be very knowledgeable. A title holder can be smart,” said Bautista.