The University of Indianapolis has its very own pageant title holder: Junior Communication Major Madeline Fisher. For the past seven years, Fisher had been a stagehand backstage following her hometown’s Miss Harvest Homecoming pageant. All that changed after some of her friends pushed her to become a contestant.
“… [I] I’ve always kind of disregarded myself and said, ‘This isn’t for you. You weren’t made to do this. You’re not good enough to do stuff like that,'” Fisher said. “But… about this time last year, I decided, you know what, let’s see what happens.”
Fisher had attended three different local pageants before becoming the official titleholder. She said that ahead of her title win it was a little disheartening to be on top one day and go home empty handed the next. But she knew she had to trust the process.
“You learn a lot about the other girls, and I think pageant day is more fun than stressful,” Fisher said. “It’s just about connecting with people and sharing your stories and stuff like that. Before I was crowned, finding a place was a little stressful [pageants] I might be able to attend and worry about how I would do, but… it was always just a very fun day.”
According to Fisher, the day of the pageant was long, lasting from 7 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. The day included walking patterns and interviews. Although Fisher is a communications major, she has roots in the world of theater and dance that she can execute when it comes time to take to the stage. A fan of big dramatic songs, she sang Barbara Streisand’s “Happy Days Are Here Again” in her last performance
Fisher said her first title, Miss Spirit Indiana, which she won in February 2022, will always hold a special place in her heart. But in August, Fisher competed at Miss Harvest Homecoming, the place where it all began for her.
“It was the [competition] that I had watched for so long. So actually winning, it was a moment that I still can’t put into words almost a week later,” said Fischer. “Every time you win something like that you’re a little bit emotional, but for me to win the title that I’ve put so much of my life and time into was absolutely incredible. And I’m still so, so grateful. I still have my trophies on the table and all my flowers outside… It just felt so great and it felt like coming home.”
There’s a lot more to pageants than just walking on stage in a pretty dress, Fisher said, and Miss America is about more than just being a pretty face. She said that in order to enter the competition, contestants need something they are passionate about and want to change within their community.
“We all have social initiatives and mine is called YOUsical Theater,” Fisher said. “It’s about advocating for the arts in schools and also in communities, and making sure they get the support and funding they need and that the educational, social and emotional benefits they bring to both students and communities adults can have, be well worked out that they are common knowledge.”
Fisher said WICR-FM general manager and communications coach Scott Uecker supported her in all her endeavors. He has known Fisher for a year and is one of her instructors. According to Uecker, having Fisher in class is a pleasant experience because she is dedicated and does her best.
“She’s a high performer. She is very driven. She’s incredibly talented,” said Uecker. “She has a very solid work ethic and I think so [that] Perhaps what she loves most to me is that she has a vision for her future and is ready to get to work. But she is also willing to change.”
According to Uecker, it’s very easy to understand why Fisher wins titles. He said that while Fisher makes the school and pageant look easy, a lot of work has gone into getting it to where it is now.
“She finds a way to say ‘yes’ to opportunities. Too many students don’t get the success they deserve because they just don’t show themselves. It’s hard to show yourself there, but she does it,” said Uecker. “…If you look at what she does to get what she got, she well deserved it. I couldn’t be happier for her.”
As for Fisher next, she’s going to be at the Miss Indiana Pageant next June. For the remainder of this year, Fisher plans to devote her time to expanding her social impact initiative, which includes community service and outreach.
“I love UIndy; They have been super, super supportive of all my pageant efforts… [I] I love the support I’ve received from the communications department and from the professors through social media,” said Fisher. “I’m just really grateful for my UIndy community in general because while Spirit of Indiana and now Harvest Homecoming aren’t university focused, the university has really embraced this new wave of Miss America and pageantry. And I love that…they’ve really invested and I’m really, really grateful for that.”