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Miss Florida and Miss Indiana

Every Zeta Tau Alpha is proud to wear her ZTA crown.  This January, members across the country gathered together to cheer for two sisters lucky enough to have received another very important crown—those of Miss Florida and Miss Indiana—as they competed in the Miss America pageant.

Whether on the couch with a few friends or at a view-in hosted by their chapter, Zetas made a point to cheer on these two sisters during the competition on Sunday, Jan. 13. The Toledo, OH Alumnae Chapter even got into the spirit by hosting a viewing party/sleepover, complete with its own pageant and talent competition. 

Because members had so much fun supporting their sisters, ZTA wants to give you a better glimpse into the lives of these two beautiful Zetas. Meet Miss Florida Laura McKeeman and Miss Indiana MerrieBeth Cox.

Laura finished in the pageant’s top 16 and is a 2011 graduate of Gamma Iota Chapter (University of Florida). In addition to her duties as Miss Florida, she also works as a sideline reporter for Fox Sports covering Big 12 football and Major League Baseball’s Tampa Bay Rays.  In fact, Laura credits her pageant experience in helping her career in sports journalism.

“The interview portion of the competition has especially helped me with my job as a broadcaster as it encourages poise in any situation,” she said. “I firmly believe that the Miss America Organization prepares young women for their careers better than any other activity. It allows women to be well rounded with a focus on scholarship and community service.”

Each Miss America contestant runs on a philanthropic platform that she uses throughout her reign. Laura’s platform is the Miracle League, an organization that builds baseball fields for children with disabilities. She began her involvement with the organization a few years ago after attending a game with a friend who is confined to a wheelchair. Laura has since become the Miracle League’s official spokesman and travels nationwide to promote and fundraise for the organization.

MerrieBeth is a senior member in Alpha Theta Chapter (Purdue University). As a collegian, she has had the opportunity to hone the talent—twirling—that she performed in the preilimnary rounds of the pageant. A top 12 finisher in the Miss America pageant, MerrieBeth is Purdue’s Golden Girl, the leader of the marching band and an ambassador for the university. This coveted position, which is steeped in Purdue tradition, always features some of the nation’s top-ranked twirlers. In fact, MerrieBeth was a silver and bronze medalist at the 2012 World Baton Twirling competition.

MerrieBeth’s platform is Overcoming Obstacles: Rise to the Challenge. As a child, she faced the possibility of becoming deaf and never being able to compete in athletics, but Laura never gave up. With the support of her family and friends, she was able to overcome these obstacles and ultimately be in the position to share her story and strength. With the platform, MerrieBeth visits schools to talk to students.

“I want kids to know that they have someone there for them who believes in them,” she said. “They all need someone positive to believe in them no matter the situation.”

Together, Laura and MerrieBeth had the belief in one another to succeed throughout the Miss America pageant. Through the experience, the two have become friends and agree their Miss America experience would not have been the same without the other.

“It was so funny how much Merriebeth and I had in common,” Laura said. “We even wore the same evening gown one night. We considered changing but decided we were both going to rock the same gown as Zeta sisters. It was an awesome moment!”

Chapters who live-tweeted from their Miss America viewing parties included: Alpha Beta (University of Pennsylvania), Alpha Theta (Purdue University), Alpha Nu (Birmingham-Southern College), Beta Omega (Union University), Gamma Epsilon (Pennsylvania State University), Gamma Zeta (Mississippi State University), Gamma Iota (University of Florida), Eta Phi (Illinois State University) and Toledo, OH.  

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