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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCF chapter.

On Feb. 9, some of the University of Central Florida’s most talented and poised women will take the stage to compete for the title of Miss UCF. While watching pageants like these, most of us non-pageant people are in awe. How can these women look so perfect? Are they going to trip in those heels? How do they know what to say? The poise and confidence of the contestants make it look like a walk in the park.

However, there are many behind-the-scenes details that go into these productions that most people don’t know about. These ladies have dedicated countless hours to the competition.  From perfecting the group dance routines and personal talents to hitting the gym in preparation for the lifestyle portion of the competition, contestants spend hours preparing for the big night. So, what exactly does it take to be a Miss UCF contender?

Auditions were held back in the fall from August to September. Practices began shortly after and run right up until the day of the show. Contestants attend rehearsal at least two or three times a week. The group works on perfecting their opening number. Since the big night is fast approaching, they also have begun practicing their individual talents, walks and interviews. Sometimes these rehearsals can run as long as three hours!

“Everyone is goofy and fun,” says Nicole Ibinarriaga, one of the Miss UCF 2013 contestants. “I think the reason why practices take so long sometimes is because everyone is laughing and talking for at least half of it.”

Participating in Miss UCF is much more than attending weekly rehearsals. There are many factors that go into pageant prep that most people don’t consider. Each portion of the pageant requires its own preparations.

Competitors must stay up-to-date on current events if they want to be successful in the interview process. Taking the time to eat right and go to the gym is a must for the lifestyle part of the competition. In addition to practicing the group numbers, they must also practice their own talents that they will be preforming for the audience. Many contestants have even starting making plans for if they win the competition.

Megan Cartaya, another Miss UCF 2013 contender says, “I am busy preparing ideas for how I’d like to begin promoting my platform if I were to reign as Miss UCF. My platform is something that is and has always been an issue that’s very important to me, so as Miss UCF I’d like to promote it as much as possible within our community.”

It is definitely a commitment, but the chance to win an academic scholarship and represent the UCF community makes it all worth it.

The Miss UCF pageant isn’t just a performance and scholarship opportunity, but also a philanthropy event. Many people don’t know that Miss UCF actually benefits the Children’s Miracle Network. Children’s Miracle Network is a charity that helps millions of sick children every year.

You can help support Children’s Miracle Network and help support your favorite Miss UCF contender! On Jan. 31, the UCF community will pick the Miss UCF “fan favorite” and support the Children’s Miracle Network by donating money outside of the Student Union. Each contestant will have a bucket where students can drop money, and the contestant with the most donations will be named “fan favorite.”

Make sure to come out to the Miss UCF Pageant on Feb. 9 at 8 p.m. in the Pegasus Ballroom. Come see the contestants compete in interview, lifestyle and fitness, talent, and eveningwear. The winner will represent the UCF community for the 2013-2014 year and be crowned Miss University of Central Florida!