Winter Carnival Queen: Piano, medicine winning combo for Poliskey

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Jill Poliskey was crowned Winter Carnival Queen from a field of eight contestants at the Rozsa Center Saturday night. Poliskey was also named Miss Congeniality.

HOUGHTON — Saturday night, Jill Poliskey played piano and practiced medicine in three years across two centuries.

That paid off in 2019. Poliskey, a fourth-year biological sciences pre-med student, was crowned Winter Carnival Queen after two hours of interview questions and performances by the eight queen finalists.

“This is a really big honor,” Poliskey said afterward. “I’m super-excited to be able to represent Michigan Tech in this way. I just never thought I’d be able to have this opportunity, so I’m really happy to be able to do this.”

Runner-up was Rachael Violassi, also the Audience Choice winner after a talent portion where she transformed a carrot into a clarinet. Natalie McGrath, who performed the “3 Engineers” card trick, was second-runner-up.

In addition to being named queen, Poliskey was also named Miss Congeniality.

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Rachael Violassi, the Winter Carnival Queen runnerup and Audience Choice winner, makes a clarinet out of a carrot during the talent portion of the coronation ceremony Saturday.

Poliskey’s sketch, “Years of Medical Innovation STEM from this Musical Situation,” saw her playing a doctor in 1885, the present day, and 2085. She began with barbarism, prescribing leeches (as depicted by Gummi worms) to her mannequin patient. By the end, she healed a broomball player’s torn anterior cruciate ligament with a light saber developed by “those brainiacs at Michigan Tech’s new H-STEM complex.”

To conclude each segment, she moved from the operating table to the piano bench, playing Beethoven, Five for Fighting’s “100 Years,” and the “Star Wars” theme.

Poliskey had been casting about for some way to combine her interests of piano and talking about medicine.

“At first, it was super boring, and it was just like bland, and there was no jokes,” she said. “I came back to school after break, and everyone was like ‘You have to make this funny.’ We worked on it as a group at St. Al’s for so long, just working out the jokes and all the kinks.”

Queen candidates also answered a set of questions: one serious, one whimsical.

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Jill Poliskey was crowned Winter Carnival Queen from a field of eight contestants at the Rozsa Center Saturday night. Poliskey was also named Miss Congeniality.

To “Are you currently working on a passion project,” Poliskey told the crowd she is taking lessons to play the organ.

“Maybe someday I’ll be one of those old organ ladies,” she said.

If she had to pick another name, she’d drop the oft-mispronounced “Jill” for her middle name of “Elise.”

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