Miss Syracuse 2016 Preview and Predictions

Local Competitions

Next weekend is the third annual Miss Syracuse Triple Crown pageant. Eleven beautiful ladies will be competing for one of three crowns, and the chance to continue on and compete at Miss New York 2015. This is the potentially the largest pageant so far in the 2016 season, and it will be exciting to say the least. We already know, afterall, three is a magic number…

This year the eligibilities were extended to offer more opportunities to contestants who are not able to complete in more pageants. Each of the titles have a different regional eligibility, and come with a different set of responsibilities.  The contestant list is made up of three first time competitors, three former titleholders, and two 2016 runner ups (three if you count Lauren twice). The skill levels are diverse, the talents are diverse, and there is no clear “front runner”. It goes without saying that whoever is crowned will go on to make the state proud as representatives of the greater Syracuse region.


  1. Miss Syracuse
    • Erin St. Denis
    • Meghan Sinisi
      • Miss Liberty 2015, NF Talent
    • Erika Merkel
    • Alexandra Canavan
    • Amanda Abdagic
      • Miss Mohawk Valley 2013
    • Maja Bajic
  2. Miss Salt City and Miss Erie Canal
    • Meghan Cahill
      • Miss Altamont Fair 2015
    • Alia Bajorek
      • Runner up at Miss Bluebird
    • Heather Graves
  3. Erie Canal
    • Lauren Schwartzberg
      • Runner up at Miss Bluebird and Miss Queens
    • Taylor Burrows


Top: Any of these ladies could go home with a crown, and it would be no surprise if they make up 4/5 of the Top 5 positions. 

  • Meghan Sinisi, Amanda Abdagic, Alia Bajorek, Lauren Schwartzberg

Fringe: These ladies have shown potential, but the competition is strong. Depending on their day-of performance they very well make take a crown, and if not they have high likelihood to place or win side awards. 

  • Heather Graves, Meghan Cahill

As always, a different day, different judges. It is impossible to know who is going to win without knowing exactly what the judges are looking for and how the girls will perform. Strong girls have bad days, new girls can shine, and seasoned veterans are constantly improving. No matter which girls walk away as the newest members of the Miss New York Class of 2016, it’s because they put their heart on the stage and earned it.

Titleholder Interview: Willa Hahn

Titleholder Interviews

8584_10152321345240353_761204037_nWho is Willa Hahn?

Currently Miss Metropolitan 2016

Formerly Miss Erie Canal 2015, Miss Potomac Highlands 2013 (WV)

PageantFile ContentBio | Miss Pride of NY Triple Crown Pageant | Bomber Beauties | Miss Syracuse 2015 Triple Crown Pageant

FundraisingMiss America for Kids


Why did you begin competing in pageants?

I entered my first local pageant in West Virginia on a whim—I had always watched Miss America and Miss USA, but I didn’t know much about them and was just curious. But after that first pageant, I realized the power of being involved in MAO. Competing in the Miss America system and representing my platform has really helped me to find my voice.

What do you hope to gain, other than a title?

I think what I’ve already gained is a group of the most amazing friends a girl could ever have. That sounds cheesy, but it’s so true. I’ve never met a more positive, supportive group of girls and I’m so lucky to have all of them in my life.

Which is your favorite phase of competition?

I’ve always been a singer and a performer, so the talent competition is where I feel most confident and most at place. But—and I never expected to say this—the swimsuit competition is one of my favorites too because it’s a chance to just go out on stage and strut your stuff and have fun, and I’ve found it to be really empowering.

Why did you choose your platform?

I’ve always been very interested in politics. I never had any interest in watching sports, so I always say that pageants and political debates are my version of football. But with the 4th lowest voter turnout rate in the entire country, obviously a lot of New Yorkers don’t share my enthusiasm toward politics. I chose Youth Involvement in Politics as my platform because I think it’s time for a change—I think it’s time to reinvigorate democracy and empower voters again, and I think we have to start by educating young people about politics and encouraging them to vote and get involved and pursue political careers.

What do you plan to do with your experiences after you age out of MAO?

I have a few years left before I have to put away the crowns, but I already have big plans. I plan to pursue a career in broadcast journalism as a reporter with the ultimate goal of becoming the next Joan Rivers and hosting my own television show. I think MAO is the perfect training for that kind of career because it’s taught me how to talk to all kinds of different people and network and put myself out there, and that’s what it takes to have a successful career in television.

Titleholder Interview: Abbey Naumowicz

Titleholder Interviews


Who is Abbey Naumowicz?

Currently Miss New York State Fair 2016

Formerly SCR Miss Electric City 2015, Miss Altamont Fair 2014


PageantFile Content: Bio

Fundraising: Miss America for Kids


Why did you begin competing in pageants? What do you hope to gain, other than a title?

I began competing in pageants honestly because a friend made me. I used to be Sandra Bullock in Miss Congeniality, and thought pageants were a waste of time, made for tall blonde tan Barbie girls to go on talking about world peace and parading in bikinis… but once I got up there myself, I was blown away by how wrong I was. Pageants are such an empowering outlet for women to establish who they are and what they want to represent, and require so much hard work and dedication. I am so happy that I was wrong about pageantry, and I hope to continue to learn more about myself, and the amazing things I can accomplish through this organization, along with extending the reach of my platform to become a positive role model to girls across the entire country.

Why is your platform unique?

My platform Just The Way You Are is all about promoting positive self image and establishing a firm backing of confidence in yourself. Many times my platform has been questioned and i’ve been asked if I am advocating for unhealthy lifestyles and obesity because my platform is about loving yourself the way that you are. In actuality, my platform is about embracing yourself for who you are, internally and externally. In general, I have a stockier build than some of my friends involved in pageantry, and no matter how many hours I spent in the gym, I would never look like the girls I am friends with. My platform is meant to teach that as long as you are treating yourself right and taking care of your body, it doesn’t matter whether you are a size 2 or 22, you are beautiful Just The Way You Are.

4 NYS FairWhat do you believe to be the advantages and disadvantages of taking an at large title to Miss NY?

I believe that an advantage of an at-large title is that it gives more girls the chance for this amazing once in a lifetime opportunity to compete on the Miss New York stage. It is also an amazing opportunity for girls who are just starting out in pageantry to work with a mentor to develop their platforms and skills. I thoroughly enjoyed the official locals that I have competed in, but I am so honored to have received the title of Miss New York State Fair, because it ties in closely with my personal values and my life. I am very proud to have the opportunity to represent both the fair and my platform at Miss New York.

I have heard from others that some contestants treat the Fair/Festival title girls like they aren’t worthy of being there on that stage. It breaks my heart to hear that within a sisterhood there are rifts like this, but there will be anywhere. It is only a disadvantage if you let it get to you. I choose to take my opportunity and embrace it wholeheartedly, and I hope that the other at-large competitors choose to do the same, and do not get pulled in to the thoughts that they do not deserve to be there, because they do!

What appearance or service event would you like to do most before the end of your reign?

Something that I would really like to do before the end of my reign is host a Love Your Body fashion show, where girls of all shapes and sizes are invited to come be a runway superstar. Many girls aspire of having their shining star moment, but never experience it. I want girls of all types to be able to feel like they are a superstar, and beautiful just the way they are.

Which is your favorite phase of competition?

My favorite phase of competition would have to be talent. It has always been so exciting to me to be able to get out on a stage and perform, and I was pretty upset when I graduated high school and struggled to find performance opportunities. Once I got involved in pageantry and was able to get out on a stage and perform again, I never felt better. It feels so great to pick a song you feel such a passion for and be able to share that with a crowd.

11875117_1386961701602312_526292486281822840_oHow do you prepare for pageant?

I prepare for a pageant by making a list of everything that I would like to accomplish before the pageant comes, which really helps me keep focused and not have anxiety about what is ahead. I set aside time to practice my walks and my talent, up my workout routine, and keep up on current events with interview practice with friends and family.

What advice do you have for a girl who thinks she can’t compete in pageants?

I would tell any girl who doesn’t think she can compete in pageants that I felt the same way. I was bombarded by the idea that you had to look a certain way to be accepted into this community, but the Miss America Organization is not like the pageant shows you see on tv or movies. I am able to be 100% myself and wear pepperoni pizza onesie pajamas to rehearsal and not worry that people won’t accept me. My best advice is if you think you can’t, chances are you actually can, and if you try it you will be amazed by what lies ahead for you.

Describe your recent Miss America experiences. 

I remember watching both Nina and Kira win Miss America from my couch at home, with my mom, wearing crowns and cheering at the top of our lungs. It was so exciting to have such amazing women from New York representing our entire country. Although it was disappointing not having our lovely Jamie make the top 15 this year, I am still so proud of the hard work that she did to get there, and for Allie too, but I am very happy for Betty for the amazing year ahead of her!

What do you plan to do with your experiences after you age out of MAO?

I plan to continue competing in other pageant systems, to help keep my speaking skills and volunteer/platform work strong. Pageantry has helped me take giant leaps in my profession, and has helped me become more comfortable with my work, and it is something that I would never give up for anything.



Titleholder Interview: Li Ling Rivera

Titleholder Interviews


Who is Li Ling Rivera?

Currently Miss Queens 2016

PageantFile Content: Bio | Miss Queens Pageant |

Fundraising: Miss America for Kids


Why did you begin competing in pageants? I have always been involved with public speaking. I have been a part of the National Forensics League for several years and strongly believe in the power of a single voice. For years I have recited original orations and spoken extemporaneously on many issues I believe we face in America – however, I have been speaking to the wrong audience. I began competing in pageants to help gain awareness to my platform and to connect to and reach out to my target audience, the future of this Nation, Young America.

What do you hope to gain, other than a title? My ultimate goal in all my aspirations is the obtainment of knowledge. Every single person I interact with, every single event I attend, every single movement I participate in will teach me something new about myself and/or the world around me. I hope to grow, to teach and to prosper in my endeavors, but most importantly I hope to experience and to learn. With a combination of the knowledge I have and the knowledge I will gain, I hope to change the way children look at their education. I hope to inspire Young America to express themselves with their most valuable instruments – their voices.

queensWhy is your platform unique? My platform was created before my initial entrance into the Miss America Organization. My platform is the foundation of who I am and how I see the youths in our Nation. I want to inspire Young America to aspire to have the admirable qualities of the women who represent the Miss America Organization. Titleholders must be strong, confident, intellectual, well-spoken, and inspirational. I want all children to understand their potential, capabilities, and to reach for their dreams.

Will you be attending Miss America this year? I definitely will! I have met so many beautiful women, inside and out – and I want to support all the talented, intelligent, and beautiful titleholders on their journeys to Miss America.

What appearance or service event would you like to do most before the end of your reign? Before the end of my reign, I want to participate in many events and also bring awareness to many causes and services. I was only crowned yesterday, but I am already looking forward to the soon approaching Alzheimer’s walk and Kidney Walk. However, before the end of my reign I hope to have organized many local speech tournaments in my local community. These speech tournaments will give youths the opportunity to create original orations and share them amongst a supportive audience. I hope to give many children the chance to gain confidence and knowledge.

12025584_10207683012058533_1364483697_nWhich is your favorite phase of competition? My favorite phase of competition is the Talent phase. During this phase we are able to see the essence of each performer’s character and their passions portrayed on a stage. I love seeing titleholders share a part of their lives and hearts with the audience. Of course, I love reciprocating the honor!

What advice do you have for a girl who thinks she can’t compete in pageants? There is no reason any girl should think they cannot compete in pageants. Pageants are not about winning – they are channels that help young women to grow in confidence, service, and intellect. Judges and contestants are always supportive. You are all beautiful, and you will gain experience and knowledge that will aid you in the world outside of pageants.

Why should you be Miss America? I would like to be Miss America because I know I can make a difference for young children in their emerging confidence and education. I want to be Miss America because I truly believe serving others is the fundamental base to serving oneself.