Merida’s Miss Indiana journey began by following her mother's footsteps when she was crowned Miss Vincennes University in 2013. Her mother was Miss Vincennes University 1985.
“[My mom] definitely was thrilled,” Merida said. “I think it’s good to see her daughter being successful in something she was successful in as well.”
Since then, she transferred to Ball State. This year, she attended Miss Indiana as Miss Heart of Indiana. Although she made it into Miss Indiana by competing in just one pageant two years ago, this year it took her four tries.
She earned first runner up at the Miss Ball State pageant, along with runner up titles at two others. The Miss Heart of Indiana Pageant was the last pageant she could compete in before the Miss Indiana Pageant. It was her last chance.
“It was the last one, it was my last shot and I finally got my ticket to Miss Indiana,” Merida said. “I had worked so hard and been so diligent. It was a life changing moment to accomplish what I had set out for for so many months.”
This led her to compete against 34 other women in the Miss Indiana Pageant last week. She found out the judges selected her as part of the top 11 on Saturday.
For her talent portion, she performed “Don’t Rain on My Parade” from “Funny Girl.” She said part of what she enjoys about the pageants is that it gives her an opportunity to keep singing.
“I really started doing pageants because I wanted an outlet for me to perform. I’ve always been involved in music. The talent portion was my way to keep singing,” she said.
Competing alongside Merida at Miss Indiana were six other Ball State women. Ball State competitors took up one-fifth of the competition, and Merida said she was glad to place in order to represent all of them.
“It’s really great that we had seven students from Ball State representing our awesome university at Miss Indiana,” Merida said. “But it was awesome being called into the top 11 to not only represent my university but those other girls. It was very life changing and very humbling.”
The six other women from Ball State were Kayzie Priebe (Miss Ball State), Chloe Anagnos (Miss Capital City), Mackenzie Klahr (Miss Elkhart County), Kayla Bruner (Miss Indiana Landmarks), Karlee Mawhorter (Miss Kosciusko) and Lauren Butler (Miss White River).