Mercy is known to have a very diverse community. Our little community contains a list of pageant queens. Some in the Italian and Hispanic community here in Omaha have competed and been successful in their endeavors. Mercy girls are known to be driven and determined to try their best in everything that we do, and we always add a bit of confidence into the mix.
From 2015 to 2018, Mercy had 4 girls win Queen of the Santa Lucia. This is a 95 year old italian festival in Omaha. The four Mercy queens (in order) are Katelyn Turnquist Dethlefs, MHS ‘14, Lauren Theiler, MHS ‘17, Alyssa Turnquist, MHS ‘17, and Gina Troia, MHS ‘20. To win, the candidates had to sell raffle tickets, have a good GPA, and have enough service hours. As a member of this group, I can say we share a special bond because of Mercy and Santa Lucia.
In January 2019, Aaliyah Flores Pliego, MHS ‘20, competed in the Miss Teen Nebraska Latina Pageant. She ended getting 1st runner up and Miss Congeniality. She also received other awards based on her performance. At the pageant, the girls were judged on an interview, how they walked, how they presented themselves, what they were involved in, their stage presence, and how they looked overall.
In May 2019, two mercy girls competed in the Miss Cinco de Mayo pageant, Saira Sotelo, MHS ‘20 and Lily Gonzaga, MHS ‘21. Saira ended up getting 2nd place in the pageant. Lily ended getting 6th place. Both were judged on an opening dance, their evening gown, their responses to questions, and a dress that represented a part of Mexico. Overall it was based on how they presented themselves.
I recently talked to former queen: Katleyn Turnquist Dethlefs about her experience as queen. Katelyn said, “When I won, a ton of my friends were in the crowd cheering for me. No one has ever done what I’ve done.” She explained how she and her family kept on ecouraging Mercy girls to run for queen for the past four years. I asked both Katelyn and her mother, Lynda Turnquist, MHS ‘83, how Mercy pageant girls compare to other girls. Katelyn said, “ Mercy girls are very good at fundraising because of all the events they do throughout the year.” Lynda said, “ I feel Mercy girls have such an advantage because of the community service and their education at Mercy.” These Mercy girls give their hearts and souls to these pageants, but they couldn’t have done it without the help of Mercy. Aaliyah said, “I was able to take what Mercy taught me. I was given values that helped me to be an empowered woman of faith.”