Anastasia Harisis, Miss Salt City 2015
School: University of Buffalo
Platform: The Age of Athenas: Creating an Empire of STEM Superwomen*
(At the time of interview, Platform was: Protect the Skin You’re In: Melanoma Prevention and Awareness)
Why is your platform unique? There are many causes that are important to me and that I love promoting, but my platform concerning melanoma is especially personal. Having been affected by melanoma myself, I realized how important it is to spread awareness about this disease. It addresses something that many women, especially women involved in pageantry, do: use tanning beds. Having used them myself and then being diagnosed with melanoma opened my eyes and made me dedicated to spreading awareness about this deadly disease and ways in which it can be prevented. I can speak about my platform on a personal level, and help others take preventative measures regarding melanoma, something that I believe sets my platform apart from others.
Where were you when Nina/Kira won Miss America? I was in my dorm room when Nina won, and that’s the moment I decided to compete in the MAO! When Kira won, I was in my apartment with my roommates, sporting my plastic crown and homemade “Miss America” sash. Let’s just say that my entire apartment floor knew that Miss New York was crowned Miss America, even though they weren’t watching the competition themselves.
What has been your favorite appearance or service event so far this reign? I was only crowned 2 days ago, so I haven’t had an appearance yet! I look forward to speaking with other titleholders from various systems within the area to begin making appearances within the next few days.
What appearance or service event would you like to do most before the end of your reign? There are countless things that I want to do before giving up my crown, but the thing I look most forward to is working with the Children’s Miracle Network. The MAO works closely with the CMN, and I can’t wait to visit children and hopefully brighten their days.
Which is your favorite phase of competition? Talent! I have been a performer my entire life, but my career pretty much ended once I got to college. Having the opportunity to showcase a talent that I’ve worked hard on and to be able to belt on stage again is incredible. It makes me happier than I can even begin to describe.
How do you prepare for pageant? I do what most girls do– eat well, exercise, watch the news, practice my walk, practice my talent, etc. However, the biggest part of preparation for me is the mental preparation. I watch old competitions to get excited, reach out to other contestants for moral support, and surround myself with friends and family to get in the right state of mind so I can put my best self out there once the competition rolls around.
What advice do you have for a girl who thinks she can’t compete in pageants? There is no such thing as a girl who can’t compete in pageants. The Miss America Organization helps women grow. They aren’t looking for the “perfect” woman because, frankly, she doesn’t exist. If you are passionate, hard working, and determined, you will succeed in pageantry, as well as every other aspect of your life.
What do you plan to do with your experiences after you age out of MAO? The skills that I have gained and will continue to gain during my time with MAO will stay with my for the rest of my life. My determination, interview/public speaking skills, poise, and overall confidence have sky rocketed since I began competing, and I know that I will only continue to grow. In my schooling, future career, and life in general, I will use the skills MAO has given me to be the best woman I can be.
Why should you be Miss America? I should be Miss America because we need a Miss America who is relatable. I am just a small town girl with big dreams, and a whole lot of determination. I yearn to give back to my community and involve myself in as many things as possible. I know that I would serve as a role model to women, and hopefully inspire them as past Miss Americas have inspired me.