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FGCU’s Sylvie Michel represents Fort Myers in preliminary contest

When people think of beauty pageants, mixed images come to mind. Over the years people have adopted a negative stigma towards pageants that they are superficial, trivial or down right problematic.

Sylvie Michel, FGCU’s Miss Florida USA pageant contestant, is representing a different, truer image. An image of philanthropy, education, and genuine inner beauty.

Her journey took her to earning the title of Miss Gulf Coast USA, but it didn’t begin there.

Winning Miss Gulf Coast USA is no small feat. In order for a woman to even compete at the Miss Florida USA competition, she must first win a preliminary title under the Miss USA and Miss Universe network.

It began for Michel around a year ago. Having always been a fan of the Miss Universe pageants, she started her excursion through pageantry at Miss Homestead USA where she won first runner-up. Next, she won the Miss Amity Award – similar to Miss Congeniality – at the  Miss Naples USA pageant and the Most Photogenic Award at Miss Charlotte County USA. These wins did more than fill her with pride; they secured her spot on the Miss Florida USA stage, getting her closer to her dream.

“The director, Grant Gravitt, offered me the opportunity to represent Gulf Coast Florida after I won the most photogenic award at Miss Charlotte County USA,” Michel said. “Becoming Miss Gulf Coast USA was surreal. It didn’t hit me until I was on stage at the Parker Playhouse in my opening number dress introducing myself.”

Michel talked of how  her presence at FGCU helped inspire her to do her best at the competition and gain as much valuable experience as she could, as well as using the experience her major has given her.

“A lot of the contestants are college students. Being the only student from FGCU competing, I felt like I was representing the school,” Michel said. “Also I’m a communications major and used to giving presentations, so I felt comfortable in front of the judges during the interview portion of the pageant.”

Pageants like Miss USA put a major emphasis on philanthropy, and Michel is no stranger to serving the community.

“Prior to winning my title I helped build a home for a family victim to Hurricane Katrina,” Michel said. “I also help organize an AIDS walk to raise money for members in community living with HIV/AIDS.”

Michel’s incredibly grateful for the time she’s invested so far in pageantry and her experience in pageants is far from over.

While Michel had the opportunity to represent her city as Miss Gulf Coast, she did not clinch the state title of Miss Florida USA.

Miss Florida USA is the pinnacle of pageants in the state of Florida,” Michel said. “I plan on competing next year. I’m getting an interview coach along with a walking coach so I can be better prepared for next year. I didn’t get a crowning moment at the preliminaries like many of the contestants, so I want to win a (preliminary) title and finally get that crowning moment.”

And she’s not just planning ahead for her future in pageantry. She’s planning out her career as well in regards to how pageants and schooling at FGCU have prepared her.

“After I graduate  FGCU, I hope to become a radio host. Miss Florida USA has really allowed me to get out of my comfort zone. I’m a lot more confident now then I was a year ago.”

About The Author

Julia Browning

Julia Browning is a senior studying journalism at Florida Gulf Coast University. She’s lived in Florida her entire life and plans to expand her geographical horizons after graduation, writing about her experiences along the way. Aside from writing articles for entertainment and lifestyle, she also enjoys writing creatively and is always in the process of researching a story. If Julia’s not in the newsroom she’s probably buried in a book, in a Netlfix binge that’s gone a little too far, or cheers-ing with her friends at happy hour.

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