Hometown: Mayfield, NY
Past Titles: Miss Empire Star 2012
Why should you be Miss International?
Over the past six months while staying connected with my sister queens from all over the world, I have been continuously impressed with their compassion and incredible accomplishments regarding their platforms. Platforms are at the heart of the Miss International organization along with diversity and acceptance. One of the things I value most about the Miss International pageant is the great emphasis on platform. As Miss International, it would be a personal priority for me to visit each state and highlight each woman’s cause while also promoting the Miss International system, the national platform of “Go Red For Women”, and my own platform which focuses on ending violence towards human beings and animals. I am blessed to be able to say that I am at a time in my life where limitations are scarce. I am relatable to all populations especially due to my platform, and I have set out to break the negative stereotype placed on pageantry so that society may see how relevant and beneficial pageants are for women. I find it very enjoyable to meet new people and to have opportunities to speak about my platform. As of today, I have reached many milestones regarding my platform in my state and now I am ready to reach the rest of the world while also highlighting the causes of my sister queens that are just as important!
What convinced you to compete in the Miss International System? I aged out of the Miss America pageant in 2013 which was a system that helped me make outstanding strides regarding my platform. I wanted to continue speaking out about my cause and I wanted to continue setting goals for myself to be the best version of myself possible. I competed with Jesse Ladoue at Miss New York in 2012 and decided to ask her about the Miss International pageant system as she was the reigning Miss New York International at the time. Once I learned the Miss International system put great emphasis on platform, I knew it was absolutely the system for me! It was then that I set out to become Miss New York International with the goals of continuing to use my voice in the absence of those who do not have one and becoming one to play a vital role in helping the Miss International system become more well known.
What interested you in competing? When I was a young girl, I took any opportunity I could find to climb onto a stage and perform whether it be at church or a school talent show. I learned about the Little Miss Fulton County pageant at around ten years of age and after a couple years of earning the talent award I found great fulfillment in volunteerism. I found comfort and happiness in community service and my favorite volunteer activity always involved animals! Now 15 years later, I have established the Little Miss Colonial Pageant so that young girls in the community today have the same opportunities that I had as a child. The Little Miss Colonial Pageant focuses on volunteerism and increasing self- esteem early in life so that children learn about what is really at the heart of pageantry. This year my girls are focusing on raising funds for the Gloversville Senior Center!
What has been your favorite appearance? One of my favorite things about being Miss New York International is having the opportunity to travel throughout the state to speak with schools and youth groups about why it is important to be kind to animals. However, a certain event I attended this year in particular has stood out to me. The Special Olympics: Vincent Miritello Miles For Medals Walk was held April 27th in Yorktown Heights, NY to raise funds for the Special Olympics. I was joined by Lia Dinunzio who travelled seven hours to attend! During the walk I met a couple of young girls who lived with physical disabilities. As we walked they began to open up to me about the struggled they felt every day and how they felt too different too fit in. I did not hesitate to open up to them in return and asked them if when they looked at me, they saw a disability? When they replied that they did not see a disability, I explained to them that I did indeed have a disability in the form of anxiety that I have managed very well for years with medication. I explained to them that they may feel different at times during days that may be especially hard but there are many who experience similar feelings and sometimes they are the people we would never expect to be struggling. After we talked about this a little more, it seemed to lift a huge weight off their shoulders. We had a great time for the rest of the walk talking about makeup and music while they each tried on Lia’s crown! They may never know the special memories they made for Lia and I that day!
Favorite phase of competition? Although nerve wracking at times, despite incredible amounts of preparation, no other phase of competition compares to interview for me! My reason for competing in pageants is to continue setting increasingly higher goals for myself and to promote my platform message. When I began competing I had low self-esteem and the only thing I had any confidence in was getting onstage to perform. After relentlessly working on my interview skills and working to beat my last interview score after each pageant, I have become more confident and able to face any challenge placed before me. I also love interview competition because, well let’s face it. What makes me happier than talking about my animals!?
What phase of competition would you add, remove, or change? I am completely certain that if there were to be a phase added revolving around volunteerism and community service, every woman in the Miss International System would score exceptionally high! It would be a wonderful way to showcase the wonderful accomplishments of our Miss International titleholders!
How do you prepare for pageants? Besides the usual fitness training, clean eating, and wardrobe shopping, the thing I focus on the most is the promotion of my platform message. This is a significant priority for me whether I am preparing to compete or not. While reading one of my favorite books, “Creating Queens: Secrets in Pageantry” by Suzy Bootz, a certain statement stood out to me. Suzy explains that when we go into an interview or when we go anywhere, it is always possible that our purpose for attending an event or a specific pageant is to reach a certain judge, contestant, event coordinator, etc. These moments are what I spend most of my time preparing for.
Advice for a girl who wants to compete in pageants but says she can’t? Throughout my experiences, I have found that there is a heavy stereotype on pageantry that teaches women that they must obtain an unrealistic standard of beauty to be successful. It is extremely important for the titleholders of today to combat this stereotype by being relatable to all populations and by sharing their experiences. What I learned early on is that I can be the best predictor of my success or my failure. When I did not believe in myself or set limitations upon myself, I would not reach my goals, but once I realized that I am and always have been enough, I began to succeed! I think it would be important to share this with any girl of any age who thinks she is not good enough to compete. It is our job as role models and titleholders to help younger girls realize that they are enough and always will be worthy of competing as well as anything else they set out to do in life!
Service event you would like to attend most before end of reign? I have been striving to collect as many signatures as possible to pass the Animal Abuse Registry List in New York State and eventually nationwide. This legislation will drastically cut down on violence towards animals AND human beings. If there is not an event to announce the passage of this legislation, I would be perfectly happy knowing that I played a role in its passing during my reign!