By MORGAN MANNS
It takes more than a pretty face to compete in a pageant.
Just ask Fostoria native Kristy Ressler who won third-place runner-up during the Miss Ohio Scholarship Program June 13-21 in Mansfield.
The 21-year-old first won Miss Oxford 2014 in March, which qualified her for a place in the Miss Ohio competition as well as provided her with $500 in scholarship money towards her Miami University education.
The Miss Ohio Scholarship Program is a not-for-profit organization that has a long history of empowering young women to achieve their personal and professional goals while providing a forum for them to express their intelligence, opinions, talents and dedication to community service, according to the website.
“It was a lot of fun. A lot of preparation but a lot of fun,” she said. “I like the person I’ve become while participating in the program.”
All 25 contestants were required to go through a five-step competition highlighting their communication skills, fitness, knowledge and a pre-selected talent.
The first phase in the contest is a 10-minute interview with six judges, according to Ressler. They asked her questions ranging in topics from current events to politics to pop culture to opinion-based questions at local, state, national and international levels.
“This is when the judges really get to know you on a personal level,” she said. “They test your intelligence level and your ability to communicate publicly.”
She performed “Broken Wing” by Martina McBride during the talent phase, which she also performed during the Miss Oxford Pageant. She said she rehearsed singing the song daily, focusing on pitch and strengthening her vocal muscles for certain notes in the song, including the very last note that is held for an extended period of time.
Another phase required Ressler to perform a walk she said she “had no idea how to perform” when she first arrived.
“They had to teach me how to glide while I walk,” she said, comparing it to the 2000 film in which an FBI agent goes undercover in the Miss United States beauty pageant. “It was ‘Miss Congeniality’ kind of stuff. Taking the time to stop, looking confident on stage, shoulders back, hands to the side, chin up.”
Her evening gown was light turquoise in color, made of chiffon and satin. It flowed in a straight and tight fit around the bodice. Rhinestones decorated the V-shape that descended down the torso.
The lifestyle and fitness category, otherwise known as the swimsuit category, required Ressler to keep track of her diet and exercise.
To prepare for this, she said she limited her diet to lean meats and vegetables and spent two to three hours a day working out.
She wore a royal blue, halter top swimsuit that she described as “basic and plain.”
The final stage in the contest consisted of one random question, which she had to answer in 30 seconds or less not only in front of the six judges but also to a sold-out Mansfield Renaissance Theatre as well.
Ressler said the judges asked her about her opinion on “No Child Left Behind” and if she thought it was a necessary policy or if it was government intrusion.
“I believe in the policy,” she said as a shortened version of her on-stage answer. “The purpose is to educate our young so we can provide positive, informed leaders for our future.”
Additionally, Ressler, as well as the other contestants, were obligated to select a platform, or a philanthropy, of which they felt strong passion and to speak on behalf of that charity in an effort to support it. Ressler chose Supporting Adoption: Shedding Light on the Option as her platform.
“Recently there have been many issues surrounding certain areas of life,” she said. “You hear a lot about abortion or parents with too many kids who are welfare and Pro Life or Pro Choice. Adoption has taken a back seat to those issues. I wanted to bring it out in the open again and promote it as an option for people in those situations.”
Once she was selected as a finalist in the top 10, she, and the other remaining contestants, completed steps in competition a second time for the judges.
Her third-place standing provided her with an additional $2,000 in scholarship money towards her education.
A political science major at Miami University, Ressler said her goal is to go to law school after graduation in 2015. She said she hopes to establish a career in entertainment law, negotiating contracts between singers/songwriters, publishers, recording artists and the like.
Ressler said her experience was both inspiring and humbling and that she hopes to continue her involvement in the pageant next year to earn money towards her graduate education.
“I hope I can participate again next year,” she said, adding that she first has to win a local pageant to qualify for a position in the state pageant. “I’m more involved with the community now and I’ve gotten into getting in contact with many people (for various philanthropies).
“Contrary to belief, the (pageant) girls are very educated and goal-oriented. They really worked with their platforms and really tried to better their communities.”
Meeting the different contestants and hearing their different platforms was Ressler’s favorite part. She said she especially liked that supporting their respective platforms was the center of their efforts.
Ressler has already begun working on building her resumé for next year, focusing on her platform.
“I meet people of all walks of life and am able to help them. It’s definitely helped me grow as a person. I strongly encourage anyone interested to find out more about (the program) and to participate.”
For more information on Miss Ohio, visit missohio.org.