Deaf CSUNians host Miss Deaf CSUN pageant

Janel Schmidt, 20, psychology major, is crowned Miss Deaf CSUN 2011. The pageant was held at the USU on Feb. 11. Photo Credit: Herber Lovato / Staff Photographer

Silent applause and screams poured out the doors of Plaza del Sol Friday night as judges crowned this year’s Miss Deaf CSUN 2011.

Freshman psychology major, Janel Schmidt, from Fremont, kicked off the pageant with the talent portion of the competition, with a dance performance to Britney Spears’ “Lucky.”

Brandon Marin and Spencer Montan served as the pageant’s masters of ceremonies.

“I’m speechless, no, I’m sign-less,” they said.

Schmidt was not the only contestant that showed impressive talent that night. Six other women wowed the judges and audience with their performances.

Kayla LaBruno, zoology major, displayed her photography of the outdoors. LaBruno said she loves taking photos as a way to inspire others.

“These pictures are the faith and beauty in my life,” LaBruno said on stage. “The Mt. Helix in San Diego inspires me to keep my heart open.”

Valerie Speir, sociology major from Castro Valley, showed off her tap dancing skills by performing a routine to Shakira’s “Hips Don’t Lie.”

The evening gown portion gave the contestants a chance to model elegant dresses and pose for the judges. Schmidt chose a form-fitting maroon satin dress that was complemented by shimmering heels. Schmidt’s smile radiated across the audience.

The pageant’s platform presentations allowed contestants to speak on a topic of their choice.

LaBruno chose to discuss the preservation of the earth during the platform presentations. The San Diego native urged people to stop littering beaches, as it affects the animal inhabitants and closed by asking everyone to take care of the planet.

Speir voiced her opinions on Hollywood’s portrayal of women and its negative effects on society.

Schmidt retold a story from her past that included dealing with her mother’s smoking habits and how it affects everyone, not just the smoker. The audience reacted to the heartfelt speech with passionate applause.

At the end of the night, judges discovered two contestants were tied for first place.  They needed to determine a winner. The contestants came out again to answer another question. Anxious audience members yelled in anticipation and excitement.

Before the winner was announced, Daniel Girard, state director of the California Deaf Youth Ambassadorship program, invited all contestants to compete in the Miss Deaf California pageant in August 2011.

In the end it was Schmidt who won over audience and judges with her incredible talents and heartfelt speeches. Schmidt was crowned Miss Deaf CSUN for the next two years and was also given the talent award.

“I feel speechless,” Schmidt said. “I feel good after all the hard work. Now I want to go represent CSUN and visit high schools and present to students. I want them to know it’s OK to dream and whatever you want, will come true if you believe.”