U students sweep top spots in Vietnamese-Utah pageant

By By Ana Breton

By Ana Breton

When asked what she would do if she were given a day to fill up a basket, Nicole Nguyen said that she would take the basket and fill it with a lifetime’s amount of knowledge.

Nguyen, a sophomore in behavioral science and health, gave that response during the question and answer portion of the Miss Ao Dai Vietnamese Utah pageant held in the Utah Cultural Center on Jan. 28.

“Knowledge is an important part of achieving one’s goals,” Nguyen said. “I hope to gain as much knowledge so I can live my life the best I can.”

Nguyen’s response helped her land the first-runner-up position during the pageant. She also won the “Miss Congeniality” and the “Best Traditional Ao Dai Attire” awards.

Nguyen competed against 14 other contestants during the three-hour pageant. Two other U students took the Miss Ao Dai Utah 2006 and second-runner-up positions.

Although contestants were partly judged on their attire, the pageant was not entirely about beauty, said Dao Ly, who was crowned Miss Ao Dai Utah 2006.

“This contest is an opportunity to learn more about the Vietnamese culture,” Ly said. “It’s also about taking that culture and sharing it with the community.”

Ly, a freshman majoring in business, won the pageant’s “Photogenic” award.

The pageant consisted of personal introductions, a Casual Cloth fashion show, and a “shake your body” dance.

A portion of the pageant also consisted of a Modern Ao Dai fashion show in which contestants wore traditional Vietnamese formal wear. “Ao Dai,” meaning “long dress,” is a two-piece garment traditionally worn by Vietnamese women during the Lunar New Year. Sue Tran, who won second runner-up in the pageant, said that this was her favorite part of the pageant.

“I was really excited to wear the Ao Dai dress during the fashion show because it makes you feel really pretty,” said Tran, a freshman in art history and biology.

Ly, Tran and Nguyen will participate in community events and parades throughout the upcoming year. They will join the rest of the pageant’s contestants and create a calendar, which will raise money for next year’s pageant.

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