Nestled in the heart of the Finger Lakes, Ithaca is home to hiking trails and waterfalls, award winning coffeehouses and wineries, farmer’s markets, summer weekends of live music, and the first ice cream sundae. Often considered one of the best college towns in America, students from across the globe attending Ithaca College and Cornell University also call Ithaca home. Needless to say, Ithaca is
But Ithaca has three new rays of beauty, thanks to the Miss New York and Miss America Organizations known as the “Bomber Beauties”, a term pegged by former Ithaca Bomber cheerleader Lauren Crandall (a former “Bomber Beauty” herself). Kristina King, Emma Silen, and Willa Hahn , three students at Ithaca College hold Miss New York local preliminary titles. They will not only be representing their respective regions through the year, but come together to promote the positives of pageantry on Ithaca College while using their crown to spread their personal platforms and serve the campus.
Kristina supported her friends as they competed, and even attended the Miss America 2014 pageant when Nina Davuluri, Miss New York 2013 America 2014, was crowned. “I remember when I first went to Miss America when Nina was crowned – when people asked if I competed, I said I was just watching, but the pageant bug certainly bit me! A year later, here I am with my first local title.” She finally decided to compete for fun in the Lioness Club of Central Square’s annual Apple Festival “Miss Apple Festival” Pageant on her birthday, and to her surprise and joy, she won. Taking the overall title, she was given the special opportunity to advance to Miss New York through a Fair and Festival Pageants clause. She will be competing as Miss Central Square’s Apple Festival. Willa, Miss Erie Canal 2015, had competed in West Virginia and even won a preliminary award for her talent. But as a student for 10 months out of the year in New York, she decided to compete in the Miss Syracuse triple crown pageant and give New York a chance. Emma, a self-proclaimed “accidental pageant girl” had competed in the 2014 pageant season. Hooked, she competed in the new Miss New York State Fair pageant for practice over the summer, and won. She too will be utilizing the Fair and Festivals Pageant clause and competing.
The role of a titleholder is more than glitz and glam, and nothing like how the media portrays these women. They are responsible for maintain an active presence in their community, promoting their personal platform and the sponsors, and representing the brand standard of the Miss New York and Miss America Organization. Being an integrated marketing communications student helps both Willa and Kristina not only in their personal branding strategies, but understand how to market their organization as well. Furthermore, Miss America is a sisterhood. Miss America contestants will fly across the country to watch their pageant sisters get married. Local titleholders will drive across the state to support a sister at a special event. The three Bomber Beauties are no different. Since the three of them received their crowns, they have already attended events together on campus to promote their individual platforms, attended fundraisers for non-profits, and general campus pride. They are also seeking out local sponsors in the community to help them prepare for the state pageant.
The tough courses and tougher terrain make it important for these queens to balance school with personal time, extracurricular, and pageant prep. Although they may not be able to wear heels to class, with winter running from October to May, but the hills are surely a contributing factor to these ladies’ define calves muscles. Kristina has gotten very good at pinning her crown on in the car, zipping off to a volunteer event. Thankfully, competing comes with a prize: scholarship. From her first Miss New York pageant alone, Willa received a $500 scholarship which will cover the price of text books.
These three ladies aren’t the first Bomber Beauties to compete for Miss New York. In fact, this isn’t the first time three pageant girls attended at the same time either. In 2010, Alexandra Palombo (a senior writer for the Ithacan at the time) explored the motivation for competing, and highlighted the scholarship aspect, while featuring Lauren Crandall (Miss Fonda Fair 2009), Michela Moe (Miss Maui 2010), and Morgan O’Brien Bocciolatt (Miss Thousand Islands 2011). Bianca Lupi, a graduate of Ithaca College, also competed in Miss New York preliminaries during her last year of eligibility. On the other side of the hill, Cornell University student Camille Sims, Miss Finger Lakes 2013, made Top 10 at Miss New York 2013. Neetu Chadak, Miss Upstate New York’s Outstanding Teen 2013, also attends Cornell University, and is currently competing for the chance to compete at Miss New York. The excess sparkle from the Finger Lakes region schools has actually inspired a potential Pageant Club, for students at both Ithaca College and Cornell, as a networking program for students in pageantry across the region and the state.
Who knows what will happen at Miss New York. Perhaps Ithaca College will send a student to Miss America! But until then, these Bomber Beauties have launched their year and are bound to make an impact.