Two years ago, Sarah Hreyo had the once in a lifetime opportunity to serve as Miss Westchester, and represent her community in the Miss New York USA pageant. Bitten by the pageant bug, and looking for the ability to further promote her platform and connect with people and organizations while earning scholarship money as a titleholder, she began competing in Miss America locals at the beginning of this year. Placing consistently throughout the year but not going home with a crown, Sarah decided to compete in her last pageant, the Empire Triple Crown, without the stress from trying to win. Low and behold, despite only being eligible for one of the three titles, she is now representing her community again, this year at the Miss New York stage.
During her year as Miss Empire Star 2014, Sarah plans to promote her personal platform, “L8ER H8ER: Saying Goodbye to Teen Dating Violence:, which will use conversations and online forums to break the stigma concerning domestic violence. She spends free time in the community, discovering what the real problems are so that she can help develop a solution that works. She hopes to teach the teenagers by visiting at least 20 schools across the Albany and Westchester regions to spot the warning signs and then have the courage to speak up in regards to dangerous situations.
Sarah has been actively serving Westchester County at a domestic violence survivors agency; My Sisters’ Place. She is now on their leadership committee, Team MSP; a new fitness and philanthropy fundraising initiative, with 4 races planned for the upcoming year. Volunteers and survivors of domestic violence are invited to come out and walk to support My Sisters’ Place, while raising money for their services.
Recently, Sarah was awarded as one of four of the 2014 City of Yonkers Women of Distinction, for her dedication to her community. She attended a ceremony hosted by the Mayor of Yonkers, Mike Spano and was even given the opportunity to speak about her platform. The love of speaking about her platform is why her favorite phase of competition is interview. Although this is her first and last year competing for Miss New York, Sarah plans to stay involved in serving the community against domestic violence. The skills she gained from competing will help her to reach all her career aspirations and continue to obtain her master’s degree.
I don’t want to be Miss America for my own benefit, but rather for the benefit of teens nationwide that would benefit for learning about the dangers of dating violence. Dating violence is such an important issue that is normalized in the media. Having a Miss America willing to speak up and challenge the norm would have such a positive impact. I have the same attitude towards being a local and state titleholder—I simply want to leave behind a legacy of empowerment.
Last September, Sarah and her best pageant friend were “pleasantly surprised” when Nina Davuluri was crowned Miss America, as no one expected New York to take the national crown two years in a row. But from all the hard work and preparation, polishing her stage skills and talent, it will be no surprise is Sarah Hreyo, Miss Empire Star 2014 takes the Miss New York crown and represents the Empire State at Miss America this year.