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Loyola University New Orleans law student represents Louisiana in 2015 Miss USA Pageant

Loyola press release - July 10, 2015

Second-year Loyola law student Candice Bennatt is vocal advocate against domestic violence

Loyola University New Orleans law student Candice Bennatt takes the stage Sunday representing Louisiana at the 2015 Miss USA Pageant, which will be held in Baton Rouge.

“We’re very proud of her. She really embodies our motto at the law school of ‘Academic Rigor, Pursuit of Justice and Service to Others,’ because she really is a young woman who wants to serve others and she’s someone who really also is very diligent about her academics, and who also believes very much about the pursuit of justice,” said María Pabón López, dean of the Loyola University College of Law. “We’re very proud of her and wish her luck.”

Bennatt, who was named Miss Louisiana USA last October, is a rising second-year student in Loyola’s College of Law, where she studies patent and trademark law. Bennatt, who hopes ultimately to combine her loves of law and public speaking into a career as a political analyst for a major news network, appears this week in the Miss USA Pageant, which will air at 7 p.m. central Sunday, July 12, on the ReelzChannel, which is available to Dish Network and DirecTV subscribers, and in Baton Rouge, on WBTR.

The 26-year-old participated Wednesday in preliminary competitions designed to allow voters to help send contestants to “the final 15,” to be announced Sunday.

A native of Kingwood, Texas, Bennatt is a former Miss America contestant, fomer NFL cheerleader and dancer with several awards to her credit. In fall 2014, she relocated from her native Texas to Louisiana to attend law school at Loyola. Then last fall, friends and family encouraged Bennatt to compete in the Miss Louisiana USA competition, representing the Louisiana town of Ville Platte. She won – and now Bennatt, a former Miss New Mexico in the Miss America organization – represents both the state and the Loyola Wolf Pack in this week’s national competition.

Bennatt earned a bachelor's degree in biology and a minor in communications from Sam Houston State University. She also is a former NFL cheerleader for the Houston Texans and a couture model. While pursuing a master's degree at the University of New Mexico, Bennatt won the title of Miss New Mexico 2012 and competed in the 2013 Miss America Pageant in Las Vegas.

Bennatt has used her visibility to become an advocate against domestic violence, helping to educate youth on preventing domestic abuse and violence. She is an official ambassador for the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, where she works to raise awareness of dating violence, particularly teen dating violence.

Since adopting her ambassador role in March, Bennatt has gone before the Louisiana legislature to testify on behalf of victims of violence in support of Senate Bill 174, a measure to provide housing protections for survivors of domestic violence. The bill was signed into legislation this month by La. Gov. Bobby Jindal and goes into effect Aug. 1.

Since being selected as Miss Louisiana USA, Bennatt has appeared at law school Mardi Gras parades and other social fun – occasionally, and on request, wearing her crown, López said.

“Since being elected, she’s been a queen,” López said. “Everyone is very proud of her.”

See Candice’s official 2015 Miss USA Contestant video interview here.

See Candice’s official 2015 Miss Louisiana USA bio here.

Learn more about Candice’s work with the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence here.