Spring 2017 Green
Elizabeth Morrissette ’18 stood on the stage at her first Miss New Hampshire pageant, trying to keep her knees from knocking. “I was definitely nervous—I’d only had a week to prepare and I wasn’t really sure what to expect—but at the same time I felt confident,” she says.
If you had asked this vivacious graphic design major a year ago if she could imagine participating in a pageant, being judged on a showcase of talent, personal interview, lifestyle and fitness, and evening wear, Morrissette would have said “No way.” As a lifelong dancer—she minors in dance at PSU—she’s used to performing. But a pageant?
Still, when her dance teacher in her hometown of Manchester, NH, encouraged her to explore the opportunity as a way to earn scholarship money and develop new skills, Morrissette reconsidered. In May she was crowned Miss University 2015, representing all of the University System of New Hampshire institutions.
“A lot of the women had been involved in pageants for a long time, so it was intimidating,” she says. But she found that people were supportive, and although she considered herself shy, she made many friends. Also, Morrissette says, “We’re seen as public figures: Speaking to anyone and everyone is part of the job. I’ve definitely come out of my shell because of this program. I feel comfortable talking to anyone now.”
Morrissette’s identical twin sister Erica encouraged her throughout the short but intense pageant process, and was there to celebrate when she was named Miss University 2015. This fall, the sisters started their sophomore year at PSU. “We’ve always done everything so similarly—we’re roommates, we’re graphic design majors, and we dance—this is the only thing I have that’s mine alone,” Morrissette says.
In addition to her studies and dance this year, Morrissette will represent the Miss New Hampshire Program’s emphasis on service: participating in blood drives, fashion shows for the elderly, PSU bingo nights, and fundraisers for a girls mentoring program. “It’s been a great opportunity to get more involved in the community and in the state,” she says. After all, beyond the sparkle of the pageant, the beauty of the Miss University Scholarship Program is in its alignment with Plymouth State University’s motto, Ut prosim (That I may serve).
■ Emilie Coulter