University crowns 53rd Ms. MSU in renovated Lovett


Junior agriculture business major Ellie McGowan receives the 2023 Ms. MSU crown from 2022 Ms. MSU Hanan Stiff. (Rebeca Mertins Chiodini/ The News)

MacKenzie Rogers, Staff Writer

For the first time since COVID-19 and campus renovations, the Ms. MSU Scholarship Pageant was held in Lovett Auditorium, where 15 students competed on Saturday, April 1.

Upon introducing the top 15 contestants, the crowd was on their feet, showcasing their support for each contestant and their nominating organizations. Following the reveal of the newly crowned Ms. MSU, family and friends flocked to the stage to capture a photo with the contestants.

Ellie McGowan, nominated by Alpha Omicron Pi, was crowned Ms. MSU 2023. McGowan is the Student Government Association president and

“After graduation, McGowan plans to go to law school and work in policy,” according to a Ms. MSU Instagram post.

McGowan received a sash, crown, plaque and an $850 Ms. MSU Scholarship.

“Honestly, this is such an unbelievable experience, and I’m incredibly honored to be able to represent everything that Murray State University stands for in this upcoming year and every student who walks through this campus,” McGowan said. “I’m so honored it’s unbelievable, but I’m so thankful for the opportunity.”

In ranking order, the runner-ups are: junior Ella Robinson, representing Kappa Delta; junior Emma Gage, representing Alpha Gamma Delta; sophomore Claire Whitaker, representing Alpha Gamma Delta; and junior Claudia Sweeney, representing Alpha Omicron Pi.

The pageant also recognized the top 15 contestants. Those contestants were: sophomore Olivia Burris, representing the Honors Student Council; senior Allye Culp, representing Alpha Omicron Pi; junior Kelli Gore, representing Alpha Delta Pi; junior Megan Hasty, representing the Panhellenic Council and COEHS Student Ambassadors; sophomore Cayden Hinde, representing Delta Zeta and Alpha Sigma Pi; junior Keeli McKeel, representing Order of Omega; junior Jayden Hayn, representing Racer Report; junior Nelli Walker, representing Alpha Gamma Delta; sophomore Sara Morgan, representing Alpha Sigma Alpha and Lee Clark Residential College Council; and sophomore Anna McGreevy, representing the Honors College.

Hayn was voted Ms. Congeniality by her fellow contestants and was awarded a plaque. Hinde was voted Most Photogenic by the judges based solely on the contestants’ headshots and also received a plaque.

In the fall semester, registered university organizations nominated women from their organizations to compete in the MSU pageant.

The Ms. MSU Board considered over 40 nominations. The board interviewed the nominees, and from there, they selected the 15 women advancing to the pageant.

The top 15 performed the opening dance in dark green dresses before introducing themselves and the organizations that nominated them.

The Ms. MSU competitions consisted of three categories. The interviews were the first category, and the speech and communication category was the second, in which contestants presented one-minute speeches on a topic of their choice.

The third category, the evening gown competition, took place during the live event. The contestants strutted the stage in their ball gowns one by one, each getting their moment in the spotlight.

Their ball gowns varied in style and shade. Each ball gown reveal was met with applause from the audience.

Afterwards, the event went into a brief intermission as the judges chose the top five contestants who would continue on to present the same one-minute speeches they had performed before.

From there, the judges tallied up their scores one last time before Ms. MSU and the runner-ups were revealed.

2022 Ms. MSU Hanan Stiff performed her final walk as Ms. MSU. Stiff will go on to represent Murray State in the Kentucky Mountain Laurel Festival in May for the chance to be crowned queen of the festival by Gov. Andy Beshear.

The Kentucky Mountain Laurel Festival is an annual event in which colleges and universities select one representative each, with Murray State sending the Ms. MSU winner as their representative.

McGowan will head to the Kentucky Mountain Laurel Festival in May 2024 to represent Murray State.