STEPHEN HEMELT – Nederland’s Maura Thibodeaux ready for Miss Texas Teen USA challenge

Published 12:09 am Saturday, October 12, 2019

Maura Thibodeaux wanted a bigger challenge. She shared that desire with her mother, Shelly Wilson.

I guess she couldn’t be upset when her mom followed through.

“My mom texted me one day saying, ‘hey, I signed you up for Texas Teen,’” Maura recalls. “She was telling me I still had to get accepted. Once I got accepted, I was really excited about it.”

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The excitement is warranted as the 15-year-old Nederland High sophomore prepares for the prestigious, multi-day Miss Texas Teen USA pageant, which concludes Dec. 1 in Houston.

It’s the next step in Maura’s growth, which she said has been greatly assisted by her pageant experiences.

“I’ve always loved doing pageants, and I’ve been doing the Nederland Heritage Festival Pageant for a long time,” she said. “I wanted to do something bigger and more exciting.

“(Pageants) really help me become more confident and realize who I really am as a person. With all the interviews I do, it will help a lot with my future for job interviews. I know what is expected, what to say and what not to say.”

Although a veteran of the pageant circuit, Maura admits to still getting nervous, especially backstage where she tends to “freak out.” However, without fail, when she makes it downstage and has the eyes of audience members on her, that’s when she calms down, tries her best and lets her presentation speak for itself.

When we talked this week, Maura joked that her “worst” pageant moment came during an “interview” prompted by a fairly routine question.

“I was asked about what superhero I would be and why?” Maura said. “For some reason, I literally had no idea how to answer. I cried during my interview but still placed, so it was OK.”

That will likely never happen again for the Mid-County native, whose pageant team is small but supportive.

By small, I mean it’s just Maura and her mom.

“I don’t have any pageant coaches,” she said. “I really just do it myself, and my mom helps me with knowing what to say in interviews and trying not to be nervous. She helps me prep for the pageant, and I pretty much do everything else.”

Miss Texas Teen USA is their next challenge. It serves as the preliminary pageant to the Miss Teen USA pageant and is a sister pageant of Miss USA. All operate under the umbrella of the Miss Universe Organization.

Maura says Miss Texas Teen USA is very big and very specific on winning requirements.

“I’m really just doing it for the experience,” she adds. “If I did win that would be amazing. If I don’t win that will be OK because there are many more pageants out there. You win some, you lose some.”

Maura, who turns 16 in February, feels those unfamiliar with pageants would be most surprised by the interviews.

“Most people think that pageants are just beauty pageants and that is all they really are,” she said. “There is a lot more to it, and I think they get surprised about the real aspect of pageants.”