Let's have a look, shall we?
Or these. OK. So I may have gone overboard with these. Although, I'm now 3% of the way towards completing the Pedro set! Maybe I should try to complete the whole set numbered #36/150?
How did you celebrate winning the Miss Oregon crown?
Getting right to work! I always promised myself that if I had this opportunity, I wouldn’t waste a moment. I started reaching out and booking appearances and service opportunities immediately, one of which was heading to Pendleton for their Fourth of July parade. This meant so much to me because my mom’s whole side of the family grew up in Eastern, Oregon, and having them there at the parade to celebrate with me was so special.
Do you have a specific goal you’d like to accomplish during your time as Miss Oregon?
I’m dedicated to getting the Miss Oregon Scholarship Program into different parts of the state that we haven’t reached in a long time. There used to be local competitions in Deschutes and Umatilla County, something we’ve been missing- so that is one of my primary goals. I’m currently in the process of securing a new local competition and I can’t wait to share about that when it’s official!
What part of the upcoming Miss America competition are you most nervous about?
Since I am a professional performer, I’m more filled with excitement than nerves. I think those things go hand in hand- and nerves just mean you care! I am so ready to meet my new sisters and form friendships, which I have always dreamed of doing as an MAO fan.
How did you select your social impact initiative, “Operation Joy”?
I lost my cousin Tristan to pediatric Medulloblastoma when we were both 8 years old. It was my first real experience with grief, but volunteering for organizations that helped my own cousin, like Sparrow Clubs and Children’s Cancer Association, warmed my heart and gave me a sense of purpose in Tristan’s honor. I created my own non-profit initiative Operation Joy as an umbrella term for all the service and fundraising I was doing for like minded, local organizations set on bringing joy into hospitals and lifting up kids during their treatments. To date- I’ve served 13 years for this cause and even created my own Podcast & Blog Duo called Joy From Scratch. It’s all about mobilizing young people to volunteer and giving them the tools and inspiration to do so. Check it out at joyfromscratch.blog
What do you enjoy most about performing your talent on stage?
The theater industry has struggled greatly since the pandemic and took away so many of my live theater opportunities. Being back on stage means the world to me and fills a hole in my education as much of my Boston Conservatory training moved to hybrid or online for about 2 years. Having my family and friends in the audience is extremely meaningful as well, because they got me this far and sacrificed so much for my theatrical education! I wouldn’t be graduating with my Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theater, without Miss America scholarships and my family’s support.
You currently attend Boston Conservatory at Berklee College of Music. Where do you see that degree taking you?
I plan on pursuing a Broadway career as well as exploring film& television. Performing is what I do best, and I’m so grateful Miss America has given me so many new avenues to do so as Miss Oregon.
If you could be a Disney character for a week, who would you choose? Why?
I think my personality matches Doug from UP perfectly! I’m just a warm, fun-loving person who wants to help people and make friends. He’s so energetic like myself, and if I could be anyone, we’d be a great match.
If you had an extra ticket to see a Red Sox game at Fenway Park, who would you take with you? Why?
I would love to take my dad! He bought my first ever ticket for me to see a game, but wasn’t able to be there with me in person. He was watching on TV back home in Oregon and we texted each other the whole time! He’s particularly obsessed with any time a ball gets hit over the Green Monster, or should I say- Monstah!
Is there a feature or activity at a baseball game at Fenway that you’d especially like to experience?
I’d love to get closer seats! They’re pretty spendy so I’ve never been super close to the action, so being up close would be such a treat. I would also love it if I could find a gluten free bun for a Fenway Frank, haha! I search for one every time I go but I’ve only been successful once. Usually I end up running around to every concession stand.
|Photo: CS Marchand|
How did you celebrate winning the Miss Connecticut crown?
You know of all the questions in this interview, I had to answer this one last. A large part of my journey through this organization has been actively working through, and surviving Domestic Violence. Winning Miss Connecticut, was close to this chapter of my life. I sat in my car and looked down at my sash sparkling from the street lights outside my windshield and cried the ugliest, happiest, relieved, and humbled tears of joy.
Is there a specific goal you’d like to accomplish during your time as Miss Connecticut?
This organization has given me so much. I want to build relationships with as many add organizations, businesses, and volunteers who share our mission to “Prepare Great Women for the World.” to make the next 100 years of Miss America stronger than the last - especially in our current climate where the voices and civic action of women will be the ones that change the world.
I think you have an important social impact initiative, “Ending the Cycle of Abuse, With Heart”. What can you tell me about it?
My Impact is centered around casting light on the many faces of abuse and empowering you to be the change. Throughout my life, I have witnessed Domestic Violence in masculine, and feminine capacities and know that there is no one “look” to abuse. I look forward to educating followers on their right to recovery, collaborating with organizations that share this mission to empower the quality of life initiatives, and modeling peace that becomes a committed practice during the aftermath of abuse.
What book are you currently reading?
I LOVE that you asked this question. I just finished “Jesus, CEO: Using Ancient Wisdom for Visionary Leadership.” By Laurie Beth Jones. It is a beautiful breakdown of how to be a selfless, faith-fueled advocate and leader. I would not want to do my year of service any other way and this was the perfect depiction.
How would you complete the sentence, “I get great satisfaction when ___”?
WHEN I HOLD MY NIECES! I have five gorgeous girls and being their Tia is such a beautiful honor. I want to continue modeling opportunities I hope they one day take advantage of and surpass.
If you could be a Disney Character for a week, who would you choose? Why?
Give me Belle’s library and the castle that cooks for her because I could live in a Barnes & Noble if you let me.
If you had an extra ticket to see the Hartford Yard Goats play the Somerset Patriots, who would you take with you? Why?
My dad! I remember the first time I was asked to make the first pitch at our hometown opening night baseball game, he was mortified. He was a baseball star in high school/college but I inherited his love for art and education NOT hand-eye coordination. He made me practice with him in the yard until my arms fell off so I wouldn’t embarrass myself. I think this would be a sweet trip to make together.
Is there a feature or activity at a baseball game that you’d especially like to experience?
I would love to throw a pitch again as Miss Connecticut. So much has changed from my first year to now. I think it would be a memorable experience even if I put my dad’s hours of rehearsing with me to shame.
How did you celebrate winning the Miss South Dakota crown?
I haven’t had one specific celebration moment, but have caught up with many friends one-on-one by getting dinner or ice cream! I’ve been traveling to different appearances every weekend since I was crowned, so I haven’t had a chance to really sit down and celebrate! Every day feels like a celebration being Miss South Dakota!
What is something that Kaitlin O’Neill did as Miss South Dakota that you would like to repeat or expand on?
I love how Kaitlin did a lot with her social media and I’d like to expand upon that! She also started up a local competition, which helped us recruit more candidates this past year. I’d love to continue her efforts and get even more women to participate in the Miss South Dakota Scholarship Organization!
As Miss South Dakota’s Outstanding Teen 2016, do you think that prior national experience will help you at Miss America?
Absolutely! The Outstanding Teen program gave me valuable skills that helped me earn the title of Miss South Dakota. I feel as though everyone walks away from big experiences like Miss America’s Outstanding Teen reminiscing on moments that they wish they could experience again or even regret certain things as well. I get to have another chance at this experience and now know to enjoy every moment at Miss America! I’m also super excited because several of the girls I competed with at Miss America’s Outstanding Teen back in 2016 will also be competing at Miss America this year with me! This just goes to show how the Outstanding Teen program is super helpful in preparing girls to compete at the next level!
How did you select your social impact initiative, “Childhood Cancer Awareness”?
I lost a classmate to cancer when I was in middle school and my cousin passed away from cancer in her 20s. This led me to look more into pediatric cancer. During this time, I found out that childhood cancer only receives 8% of the National Cancer Institute’s research funds and that there are less than 30 FDA approved drugs to treat childhood cancer. Of these approved drugs, only 2 of them have been approved in the last 20 years. Childhood cancer drugs often aren’t very profitable so drug companies typically don’t voluntarily develop them. This causes many young children to either pass away from cancer or live with chronic health issues or a secondary cancer from their treatment. I also volunteered at the children’s hospital in South Dakota during college and spent a lot of time with pediatric cancer patients. After learning all of these facts about the lack of awareness and funding for childhood cancer, as well as getting to know many pediatric cancer patients, I knew I had to do something. Ever since choosing this social impact initiative, I’ve worked on fundraising and raising awareness for the cause throughout South Dakota and hope to raise awareness and funding at the national level as well by working alongside the American Childhood Cancer Organization.
As a talented singer, what do you enjoy most about performing your talent on stage?
You plan on attending medical school after your time as Miss South Dakota. What drew you to that field?
I grew up loving science and knew that I wanted to pursue a career in the STEM field. After losing loved ones to cancer, I developed a deep interest in understanding why certain individuals end up having cancer or other diseases. Because of this interest, I took every biology, chemistry, physics, and math course that I could in high school! I also love working with and helping other people. I decided to give the pre-medicine route in college a go because of these reasons. However, it wasn’t until I started volunteering at the children’s hospital, shadowing physicians, and working in a medical clinic that I realized pursuing a medical career was my true passion. I enjoy working with patients and seeing physicians solve difficult health issues. I have also always been a leader and problem solver, so being a physician seemed like a perfect fit for my passion and personality. Ever since making the decision to attend medical school, it’s only been strengthened through my shadowing, work, and volunteer experiences. I’m so excited to attend Des Moines University College of Osteopathic Medicine next July after completing my year as Miss South Dakota!
If you could be a Disney character for a week, who would you choose? Why?
|Sage Studios Photography|
If you had an extra ticket to see a Sioux Falls Canaries baseball game, who would you take with you? Why?
I would take my sister Hayden because she’s one of my best friends and I’m always looking for an excuse to attend fun events with her! Plus, she’s cooler than me and understands sports like baseball much better than me!
Is there a feature or activity at a baseball game that you’d especially like to experience ?
I’d like to say it’d be fun to throw the first pitch, but I honestly do not have the best hand-eye coordination so it probably would not work out as well as I’d hope! It’s probably best I just sit back and enjoy the game lol! I do enjoy singing the National Anthem at baseball games though!
|Carlos Velez Studios|
How did you celebrate winning the Miss New Jersey crown?
I slept! For an entire day! Then, my hometown of Middle Township held a parade in my honor a few days after I returned from Atlantic City! My family and close friends came to my family’s diner after the parade to celebrate more. I am very blessed to have such amazing, loving people in my life!
What is something that Alyssa Sullivan did as Miss New Jersey that you would like to emulate or expand upon?
Miss New Jersey has always been put on a pedestal; a woman that maybe not every person could relate to or connect with. Alyssa truly strived to change that image. She made Miss New Jersey a trailblazer and an influencer, while still showing that she is relatable and real. As the new Miss New Jersey, I plan to continue that and honor the legacy that Alyssa left. Miss New Jersey is an icon, but she’s also be the girl next door!
What did you learn about yourself at the Miss New Jersey competition that will help you at Miss America?
I learned SO many things about myself during the week. Placing high last year added tons of pressure for me this year, but I learned that I was able to overcome the doubts and pressure by staying focused on my goal and just being myself. There were times that I didn’t think I could do it and I would stress myself out; however, with some meditation and positive affirmations, I persevered and showed the judges who “Augie” is!
How did you select your social impact initiative, “Stop the Traffic”?
I stumbled upon the statistic: human trafficking is the second most profitable, illegal industry in the world. This inspired me to do more research on trafficking, in which I discovered that it is prevalent in US and even in New Jersey. I was scared. Not only scared about the fact that anyone is susceptible to falling victim, but also by the lack of knowledge that I and so many others have about human trafficking. As a young woman in college who often travels alone, I wanted to take action. If I can just save one person by sharing information and making them aware of the issue, then that is the first step to eradicating trafficking as a whole.
As a talented dancer, what do you enjoy most about performing your talent on stage?
I love every single thing about performing my passion for others. I think my favorite though, has to be hearing the audience clap after doing all of my fouetté turns!
You’re currently majoring in journalism. What drew you to that field?
There are so many stories in the world that need to be told. I discovered my love for writing at a young age, and so when it came time to decide where I was going to pursue higher education, I knew I wanted a school that had an excellent communications program in an area that had awesome connection-building opportunities. And that was Hofstra University for me!
What is your personal fitness routine?
Growing up as a competitive dancer, I learned to love mental health and physical fitness at a young age. I exercise 4-5 days a week, in addition to dancing and waitressing (yes, serving tables at a diner is exercise)! I’m also a trained Zumba instructor, and I love to swim and taking long walks on the beach with my best friends!
If you had an extra ticket to Somerset Patriots baseball game, who would you take with you? Why?
My dad! He’s the big sports fan in the family, and is always watching games on his phone when he has the time. He works so hard every day at our family’s business, and I’d love to spend a day with him doing what he loves!
Is there a feature or activity at a baseball game that you’d especially like to experience?
I’d love to throw the first pitch at a game! I’ve seen former Miss NJ’s do it and I’ve always wanted to try! Hopefully my strength from hand standing will kick in, who knows?! I’m up for the challenge!