“I’m so excited for the pageant and for this experience to be on stage under lights that I can’t sleep,” said Hazlett, 25. “I’ve been practicing very intensely for the last week and a half, so it’s almost like I’ve been competing. I’m ready for this.”
Hazlett was in the top 15 in the Miss Michigan USA competition in 2009, as Miss Presque Isle. She also competed in 2008.
She said this will be her final bid for the title.
Whoever is crowned Miss Michigan USA will proceed to the Miss USA pageant next year. The winner of that contest will compete for Miss Universe.
Hazlett will wear a 30-pound beaded dress for the evening gown portion of the competition. She said she’s been practicing walking with the weight.
Gaits are different for the swimsuit and evening gown portions of the contest, she noted.
“The swimwear portion has a flirty, sexy walk — something that represents the modern woman,” Hazlett said. “The evening gown walk is slower and very lady-like.”
Hazlett said she’s also been rehearsing more than 600 possible interview questions for Saturday’s pageant.
Hazlett said she entered her first pageant at age 15 in an effort to break free from her emotional shell.
“I started competing 10 years ago, but I didn’t compete to really take the crown,” she recalled. “It was more of a personal journey. I was very, very shy — and it was very difficult for me to have a conversation. I didn’t have confidence or self-esteem, and pageants were a way for me to learn about myself and push myself out of my comfort zone.”
Hazlett said that’s the message she wants to share at the pageant — and hopefully beyond.
The winner of Saturday’s competition will participate in speaking engagements throughout her year-long term.
“Miss Michigan (USA) is a job,” said Hazlett, who plans to someday start an image/business consulting firm. “You speak at a lot of charity events (and) I want to share the message — don’t let yourself get in the way of your dreams. You can do it.”
Hazlett said she had misconceptions about pageant contestants — until she became one.
“I never thought I would be one of those girls,” said Hazlett, who holds a master’s degree in business from Northwood University. “I had a lot of misconceptions about pageant girls. I thought they were not very smart, that they just walked around in heels and swimsuits. Now I realize this opportunity is a good fit for me. It’s about being the total package — the modern woman.”
Hazlett said even if she goes home without a crown this weekend, she’ll still feel like she has won.
“I’ve had so much overwhelming support from my sponsors and family and friends that I already feel like a winner,” she said. “I’m so blessed.”
The Miss Michigan USA 2012 competition will award more than $1 million in college scholarships to winners, finalists and semi-finalists. Competition begins Friday night at the McMorran Entertainment Center in Port Huron, and the final show begins at 4 p.m. Saturday.