Ryerson to crown new student royalty

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By Sonia Straface

On March 24, Ryerson’s most confident and entertaining students will strut and sashay for the chance to be crowned Mr. and Ms. Ryerson.

The 10 finalists will compete in various pageant-inspired events at the Ram in the Rye, and the winner will hold the title for a year.

According to event coordinator Alexandra Russell, the fundraiser was conceived in 2009, when she was working as a residence advisor in the International Living Learning Centre (ILLC).

“One of the girls on my floor had just lost her mother to cancer after her mother had been diagnosed only three months earlier,” Russell said.

“As a floor, we decided we needed to help in some way and raise awareness.”

The pageant’s proceeds go to the Carlo Fidani Peel Regional Cancer Centre in Mississauga.

The 2009 inaugural pageant—in which there was only a Mr. Ryerson title, was organized in less than a month, but raised $2,500.

Last year, the competition collaborated with Ryerson’s Blue and Gold Ball, and named the first Ms. Ryerson.

That year, $3,800 was raised for the charity in only three hours.

This year, about 30 students entered the competition.

Though all students are eligible to enter, Russell finds that some programs bear more applicants than others.

“Not a lot of business and math students apply, so we get a lot of the arts students applying first,” she said.

This year, almost half of the finalists are from the Faculty of Communication and Design (FCAD), while there is only one finalist from the Faculty of Community Services.

Russell thinks that misconceptions about the pageant are keeping more students from applying.

“What people are scared of is that they think it’s solely a beauty pageant, for beautiful people, like a popularity contest, but it’s really not,” she said.

Though competitors participate in a question period, strut down a runway in formal wear and must show off their talents like in a normal pageant, the pageant is not meant to be taken too seriously.

Ian Vandaelle, the reigning Mr. Ryerson and Biz and Tech editor at the Eyeopener, was registered for last year’s pageant by his friends as a joke.

After a week of online voting, Vandaelle was asked to come to a dress rehearsal with the other finalists.

“I only had a few days to prepare a talent,” said Vandaelle. “So I did a very serious, dramatic reading of Miley Cyrus’ song ‘See You Again’, wearing glasses and a sweater vest. I just knocked it out of the park.”

Having gone through the experience, Vandaelle encourages students who are thinking about entering to give it a shot.

“I mean why wouldn’t you do it?” Vandaelle said. “It’s a great opportunity to have a great time while doing it all for a good cause.”

Celeste Salvagna, a second-year urban and regional planning student and one of the finalists for Ms. Ryerson, had more personal motives.

“My family has been affected by cancer and it triggered my interest, knowing that it wasn’t just a fun event, but it had a good cause behind it,” she said.

Photo by: Chelsea Pottage

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