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Michelle Quizon celebrates winning UNLV's annual Miss Brown and Gold Pageant. (Photo by Stephanie Castille)
Michelle Quizon celebrates winning UNLV's annual Miss Brown and Gold Pageant. (Photo by Stephanie Castille)

Unexpected Winner at Miss Brown and Gold Pageant

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The winner of the 2015 Miss Brown and Gold Pageant at UNLV this April was unlike any other.

Miss Brown and Gold–Michelle Quizon–had stepped out of her comfort zone, and won.

Born in South Korea, Quizon moved to Las Vegas when she was 18 years old. While in Korea, her parents were in the military, and she was raised in an English-speaking environment.

Quizon, member of Alpha Gamma Delta sorority, participated in the Brown and Gold pageant because she saw the opportunity to raise funds to support education for underprivileged individuals.

“I loved the fraternity’s cause. My parents raised me to believe education is a top priority, and I am thankful I could raise funds for underprivileged individuals’ education,” Quizon said. “I also wanted to represent Alpha Gamma Delta.”

Quizon has fought through personal battles of her own along her path in helping others. She developed anorexia five years ago, and weighed 70 pounds at her lowest point. In South Korea, Quizon said that it was in style to be skinny and white.

“All the female celebrities were stick thin, and I was also a perfectionist. I thought I was so ugly,” Quizon said.

Now however, Quizon has come a long way. She not only displayed her confidence and body peace in the Miss Brown and Gold pageant, but she regularly powerlifts and sings. Powerlifting is one of Quizon’s favorite activities.

“I have realized that for me, increasing physical strength correlates with better mental toughness,” Quizon said.

As for singing, Quizon has been holding the mic since she was 5. She also sang as part of the talent portion in the Miss Brown and Gold pageant. She sees singing as a way to relieve stress. When she’s not on stage, spending time with family and friends reminds her of how blessed she is to have a great support system.

“Plus, they give me abs from making me laugh,” Quizon said.

The pageant also gave Quizon a chance to step outside of her comfort zone and strengthen her weaknesses, such as dancing and public speaking.

(Photo by Stephanie Castille)

(Photo by Stephanie Castille)

“I am not a natural dancer, nor am I a great public speaker. To develop the mental competence, to believe in myself enough to excel in areas in which I am weak—that was the hardest part about preparing,” Quizon said.

Though preparing for the pageant was difficult, Quizon was able to develop friendships with the other contestants. She bonded with each contestant in a different way, whether it was during the photoshoots or by making inside jokes throughout the pageant process.

“I am thankful to have had my pledge sis Jazzmin Salas with me the entire way, but I also developed close bonds with Chi-Chi Njoku, Arneisha Swanson, Vianne Perez and Dinnia DiGeannro,” Quizon said.

Contestant Chi-Chi Njoku, feels the same bond as Quizon and is happy to have shared the experience.

“She is very bright and has a positively affective attitude,” Njoku said. “It was great working with her, because she makes you feel like you’ve been sisters for years.”

Jazzmin Salas, Quizon’s pledge sister, felt that Quizon was an important part of making the process enjoyable.

“I was more than happy that Michelle was part of the pageant. She’s such a bright person and hard worker. Having her by my side the whole time made the whole experience such a joy,” Salas said. “I’m so happy for her, and she definitely deserved to win.”

Theo Nichols, member of Iota Phi Theta Fraternity Inc., and one of the founders of the Theta Beta chapter at UNLV, was proud of all the contestants, but felt that Quizon deserved the title.

“I noticed that Michelle showed up to all of the practices and tried her hardest at every one. You could tell that she was determined to win,” Nichols said. “I also noticed that she got along well with all the girls and provided support for all of them. She definitely deserved to win this pageant.”

Quizon is proud of winning because she breaks the stereotype of what a typical pageant queen looks like. She describes herself as quirky, which includes some interesting syncrocies. Her ritual before doing anything stressful—be it a performance, mechanical engineering exam, or a pageant—is brushing her teeth.

“I’m the kind of girl to notice your eyeliner is on-point a little extra today, the girl who gives a little dance after solving one homework problem, and the girl who has to Google something immediately if she does not know it,” Quizon said.

Even from the beginning when news of the pageant was announced at an Alpha Gamma Delta meeting, Quizon never thought that she would actually win.

“I think I am still in shock. I definitely do not look like the typical pageant queen, but I am very grateful to have broken the stereotype,” Quizon said. “The entire process has been a blessing.”

As Iota Phi Theta’s Brown and Gold winner, Quizon also received a scholarship at UNLV.

“I am proud of inspiring others to work hard for their dreams,” Quizon said.

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