Following in her sister’s footsteps

By Rae Arnett
Staff writer
rarnett@pntonline.com

Hannah Giles, Miss Southern New Mexico and first-time pageant contestant, will compete for the Miss New Mexico crown next week.
The event manager for the Clovis Civic Center has been living in the area for seven years. Her older sister also competed for the Miss New Mexico crown.

The Miss New Mexico Pageant is Tuesday through Thursday, with the crowing of the new Miss New Mexico on June 28 in Ruidoso.

Hannah Giles,  Miss Southern New Mexico, will compete for Miss New Mexico on June 24.

Hannah Giles,
Miss Southern New Mexico, will compete for Miss New Mexico on June 24.

How did you come to reside in the Clovis/Portales area?
I went to Eastern New Mexico University where I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in communication and I fell in love with the Clovis-Portales area. I have been here for almost seven years and this is where I want to stay. I work in Clovis at the Civic Center as the events manager. I am also a chamber ambassador in Clovis as well as a member of Young Professionals of Clovis. My sister, her husband, their twins, and my mother are all Portales residents as well. This area has been so wonderful to me and on June 28, the Clovis Mayor is going to have it be Hannah Giles for Miss New Mexico Day. It will be just for that day but it is such an honor.

What is your favorite event that you have been part of at the Clovis Civic Center?
The benefit concert that we had for Twila Kos. We put it together in three days and we raised over $10,000 to help her cover medical fees. One of my professors, Janet Bresenham, at ENMU actually sang a song she wrote at the concert.

Do you think you fit the stereotype of a pageant girl?
The only way I think I fit the stereotype is because of the Miss America Organization’s heart. They do not charge an entry fee. They partnered with Children’s Miracle Network and each contestant has to raise a certain amount of money for Children’s Miracle Network. The heart that Miss America has relates to me because I want to give. Every contestant has a platform issue that is close to their heart and mine is Selfless Service- Do Something. Even before I did a pageant I had been to Haiti, Mexico, and Moore, Oklahoma for tornado relief to serve and what I found in that is that when you put others first and yourself last, that’s when you have the fulfillment that you need.

Miss Southern New Mexico was the first pageant you ever competed in, how did it feel to win and why did you decide to compete?
I almost did not think they said my name. I covered my mouth and began to cry because it is such a privilege to hold the title. I prayed about the pageant before hand and it really felt like God provided this for me. I decided to compete because it was on my bucket list and also because I finally felt that I had something to say and I knew it would be heard with the Miss America Organization.

Your sister also competed for the Miss New Mexico title, How has it felt to follow in her footsteps?
Being able to talk to somebody who has been through it really helps. It helps me kind of know what to expect. My sister was actually going through her stuff the other day and found a letter that I had written to her when she was competing for the Miss New Mexico title. During the pageant you are gone for one week, so when my sister competed, my family wrote her a letter every day. She competed for three years and that was about 11 years ago. This year is my first and last year to compete in a Miss America pageant because the age limit is 24.

There have been some bad stigmas attached to pageant contestants in the past, do you think they are true?
The Miss New Mexico Pageant is a scholarship pageant that encourages us all to believe that it is our intelligence, confidence, ability to speak, and our goals that can win a pageant; not the price of a dress. Personally, I shop in thrift stores and I believe in recycling items, I am wearing the same shoes my sister wore with her swim wear. It is not the material items that define the pageant. It is the heart inside of the girl that wins.

The award for winning Miss New Mexico is $10,000 in scholarships, what would you do with those scholarships if you won?
First, I would pay off my student loan. Then I would put the rest away for when I attend graduate school, possibly at ENMU.