Brought To You By NSU; Written by Leah Jackson
When Northwestern State University senior Makenzie Scroggs of Marksville was crowned Miss Louisiana June 17, she realized that she will be able to fulfill a lifelong dream for her mother, Rebecca Dauzat Scroggs, to attend the Miss America pageant.
Scroggs won the state title representing Natchitoches as Miss Natchitoches City of Lights. Last year, she was first runner up in Miss Louisiana competing as Miss Northwestern – Lady of the Bracelet and is the second NSU student to become Miss Louisiana in the past six years. Dauzat Scroggs was Miss Northwestern–Lady of the Bracelet in 1998 and competed in the Miss Louisiana Pageant that year. She graduated from NSU in 2000 with a degree in education. They are the first LOB mother/daughter legacy.
Scroggs’ social impact initiative is Being True to Being You, an organization she started at age 15 with the goal of raising confidence in young women and girls through self-development workshops. That inner confidence and determination shone through when she earned the Miss Louisiana title despite a foot injury and a wardrobe malfunction during the talent competition.
Scroggs has been dancing since age 2 and is pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance. She will take a year off from school to focus on her duties as Miss Louisiana and prepare for the Miss America competition, which has not yet been announced.
Wearing matching Lady of the Bracelet charms, mother and daughter sat down in the NSU dance studio to speak about Scroggs’ path to Miss America, her social impact initiative and the bond the two share. The conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.
How do you prepare for competition?
Makenzie: Different phases require different things. I know my favorite thing is to always stay true to myself. Of course, practicing dance, stretching, conditioning, all the things that dancers know about. Practicing going out into the community, speaking, practicing walking in the heels, practicing walking in the tennis shoes for fitness. That all goes into it, but the big part and factor is to stay true to yourself and feel confident about yourself and show who you really are.
Pageant competition has evolved in recent years to reflect modern attitudes that focus on scholarship and service. Can you talk about how an experience like Miss Louisiana can be empowering for young women?
Makenzie: We have five pillars in this organization: service, style, success, scholarship and sisterhood. With these five pillars, that’s what makes the Miss Louisiana organization and the Miss America organization stand out. I’ve been able to achieve over $55,000 worth of scholarships, which will allow me to go to school debt-free and get my BFA in dance here at Northwestern. It’s allowed me to gain so many sisters, so many friends, so many memories and it’s also given me the aspect of what service is.
My mom was a part of this organization as a preliminary titleholder. Being able to follow in her footsteps is great. She taught me about this organization and allowed me to learn what service is at a young age. I served with the American Cancer Society, the Muscular Dystrophy Association and my program at the age of 15.
Can you talk about the NSU dance program and how it has enhanced your experience as a student and contestant?
Makenzie: This program and this group of people in Creative and Performing Arts hold such a special place in my heart. We are like a big family. We come together and show our love for the arts. They are so family oriented and it shows when we all uplift each other. We come here to do what we love and it shows.
Rebecca, could you share a bit about your experience with LOB and Miss Louisiana?
Rebecca: My goal was never to be Miss Louisiana. My goal was to be Miss Northwestern-Lady of the Bracelet. I was my elementary school queen, my high school queen, so I wanted to be my college queen. Being Lady of the Bracelet opened up so many opportunities to know Natchitoches and to get to know Northwestern. It opened so many doors for me.
What were your talent and platform?
Rebecca: I was a clogger. I did dance for 20 years, but also clogged in between, so I chose clogging and the girl before me, Farrah Reyna [Lady of the Bracelet 1997] who crowned me was a clogger also. My platform was for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. My brother was diagnosed at the age of 5 with muscular dystrophy so we always raised money and worked raising awareness for funding to help with research on muscular dystrophy.
Did you have any words of advice for Makenzie?
Rebecca: Basically, her platform. Be sure to remember who she is, to stay true to who she is, where she came from and not change herself.
You two are the only legacies for LOB. How is that for the two of you?
Makenzie: Coming to Northwestern, I knew as soon as I came. During my tour [former NSU President] Dr. [Chris] Maggio told me “You’re going to be our LOB.” I was like, “Heck, yeah, I want to do this.” He said, “Do you know you will be the first mother-daughter pair?” and as soon as I found out I was like, “Mom, we’re making history. We’ve got to do it. Me and you, let’s do it,’ and she said OK.
Miss Louisiana has always been a dream of mine and I wanted to go as LOB because her first year she went as LOB. To be able to share that experience and have the same feelings because we knew what we were going through, being our university title holder first time going to Miss Louisiana, what it felt like to be not only on the Northwestern stage, but also the Miss Louisiana stage. She had a lot of tips and advice for me being able to represent my university and myself at Miss Louisiana. She just uplifted me.
Rebecca: It’s amazing. In 1998, I was Miss LOB and I was competing and we didn’t get a charm to keep, so when she won, I kept telling her, you have to talk to [Director of Student Affairs Dr.] Yonna [Pasch]. I just want a charm!
Makenzie: Ms. Yonna can testify. We were plotting something, and I was trying to keep a secret.
Rebecca: I finally got my charm. It surprised me. It’s been an experience to relive some of your past with your daughter. It’s kind of surreal. I still can’t believe she won Miss LOB. I still can’t believe she won Miss Louisiana, that she’s doing all this. She’s way more motivated and determined than I was. I was just a mellow person. What happen would happen, but–
Makenzie: Not me.
Rebecca: She’s determined.
Makenzie: We’ve said every day, “Oh my gosh, we’re going to Miss America.” Every day. And it still hasn’t hit.
Rebecca: I love that she says WE are going to Miss America. And I’m like, no, YOU’RE going to Miss America.
Makenzie: All my life, I’ve watched Miss Louisiana and Miss America. For so long she said, “All I want to do is go watch Miss America in person.” I looked at her and said, “I’ll bring you, don’t worry. I’ll be Miss Louisiana and we’ll go together.”
Rebecca: Being a competitor versus being a mom of a competitor is totally different. In dance, in pageantry, I’d rather be the competitor than be the mom of a competitor.
Makenzie: Even watching my sister at dance competitions, I’d rather be up there than watch. I’m going to throw up because I’m so nervous for her. I don’t envy you.
You two seem really close.
Makenzie and Rebecca: We are!
Makenzie: Growing up, with pageantry but especially with dance, we lived 45 minutes away from the dance studio. Even when I was able to drive, she still drove me so I was able to do my homework because I was there from 4 till–
Rebecca: Sometimes midnight.
Makenzie: We say 10, but most times midnight. Having that connection, there were so many times we talked in the car, we talked at dance, we talked on the way home. I think we really got close on those car rides. We’ve had so many adventures and so many car rides. We’ve been places, us two.
Rebecca: And then also, I taught at the same school where they went for about four years so the car ride to school, the car ride home….
Makenzie: We spent a lot of time in the car. We had good talks, good memories.
What do you hope is the greatest impact you have as Miss Louisiana?
Makenzie: If I would be able to impact and change one person’s life, I think that would be a successful term at the end of my reign. I want to be able to educate about confidence. If I’m able to make one person’s day better or one person’s life better, make someone more confident than they started with my program, that would be success.