New York City is famous for it’s big city dreams and bustling downtown streets. It’s also the location (Staten Island, to be specific) of the Miss New York Organization competition each year. But beyond the city lights lies a state full of optimistic contestants who enter local pageants, hoping for a piece of the action and a chance to become part of the Miss America Organization’s sisterhood. The Miss New York Organization’s board of directors is working to ensure every corner of the state is covered and represented, especially in times of great need.
Mentorship is another important function of the New York organization. Miss New York’s Outstanding Teen Executive Director Linda Monte is leading this effort to help strengthen the bond between Teen and Miss “sisters.”
“I would like to see the teens have a chance to learn from the people who have most recently competed and are closer to their age,” Linda said. Past contestants have a unique vantage point from which teens could take full advantage in coming competitions. “There is so much we can do to help them learn about their own strengths and to maximize the experience for everyone who gets involved.”
Maximizing potential is something at which New York excels. Linda notes that no two titleholders are the same, and through the organization, young women have the opportunity to develop skills and discover individual potential for competition and beyond. “The most important aspect of the program is to allow young women to test their wings, meet, and work with others in their community, and earn and explore aspects of their own development which they might not otherwise exercise.”
What’s more, the Miss New York Organization gives contestants—even those who never wear the crown—a sense of something greater than themselves. Linda quotes Miss New York 2011, Kaitlin Monte, in saying, “Only one girl each year is crowned Miss America, but everyone can become Miss America.” That, Linda says, proves that it doesn’t require a title to gain the experiences distinct to MAO.
Find out more about former Miss New York 2012 and Miss America 2013 Mallory Hagan in the April issue of fourpoints!
Written by: Erika Fifelski, fourpoints staff writer
With a gasp of breath or a shrill squeal of joy, Miss America Organization contestants and titleholders across the country see dreams of higher education come to life with each and every scholarship they receive. In the Miss Oregon Scholarship Organization, the newly crowned and veteran titleholders alike are putting their scholarship dollars to use—even decades after they walk across the stage.
Lynette Boggs, Miss Oregon 1989, will never forget competing at the Miss America pageant in Atlantic City. And although the event took place nearly half her lifetime ago, the scholarships she won through Oregon’s local and state pageants and at the national level were indispensable to her graduate degree in the ‘90s and her recently acquired law degree. Lynette’s monetary awards were used to see her through graduate studies at the University of Oregon’s journalism college. But as recently as May 2012, Lynette saw her experiences—made possible because of MAO and MOSO—come full circle as she walked across a different stage, now a graduate of law.
“I can tell you that my writing skills and my ability to be able be an effective writer go all the way back to that experience where I was able use my scholarship to study journalism. It’s all tied together. And even though twenty-three years have elapsed, I’m still reaping the benefits of having had those educational scholarship dollars that Miss Oregon and Miss America provided for me,” Lynette said. “It was an investment in my future that came back in multiple returns.”
Starting a new career mid-life also required courage and support, both things Lynette came by because of MAO. The relationships she made with those in her class stood the test of time, and her “sister lawyers” were with her through the ups and downs of law school.
“They were some of my biggest cheerleaders as I went through my law school experience in my forties,” Lynette said.
Written by: Erika Fifelski, fourpoints staff writer
McKenzi Novell, Miss Spokane 2012, now holds the world record for the longest standing female Salvation Army bell ringer. She stood outside in the cold weather without eating, sitting, or sleeping for 52.5 hours—all while continuously ringing the red handheld bell.
The last female record holder made it twenty-seven hours. The current world record is held by three men who went seventy-nine hours.
In Spokane, the bell ringing competition was called the "last man standing" between the "beauty" and the "beast." Miss Spokane—the beauty—won the competition after Spokane Salvation Army Captain Kyle—the beast—conceded at fifty-one hours. Marcus Riccelli, incoming Washington State Representative from the third legislative district, also competed against Miss Spokane and Captain Kyle. Riccelli stood for fourteen hours before he conceded.
Miss Spokane and Captain Kyle raised approximately $10,000. The competition began at 5 a.m. on Thursday, December 20, and ended on Saturday, December 22. The competition was initiated as a last minute fundraiser for the Salvation Army after reports of donations being lower than expected.
Source: Cheri Moore Photo 1: Chris Bornhoft
To know Miss Ohio, Elissa McCracken, as a middle school student, very few people would have predicted her January 2013 participation in the Miss America Competition. An excellent student although extremely shy, a self-proclaimed “band geek” who wore glasses and battled with bad skin, Elissa kept to herself and locked herself in her room to cry regularly and secretly for two years because of the hateful instant messenger taunts she received almost daily. The experience shook her self-confidence to the core. With help, Elissa found a way to beat the bullies—in a manner that changed her life.
Within the past two years, as a result of her participation in the Miss Ohio Scholarship Program (and specifically the local Miss West Central Scholarship Program), Elissa has been able to promote her “Stop Cyberbullying” platform and share both her life-changing story and practical techniques anyone could use to address and put a stop to their own cyberbullying experiences. “I have devoted myself to the commitment that I would help others to avoid the intimidation, humiliation, and embarrassment that I endured,” Elissa said.
Elissa has also worked to create public service announcements on her important platform. The Partnership for Violence Free Families and the high school students from Lancaster City Schools have worked with her to prepare these PSAs for broadcast, locally and statewide.
Having just completed her third year of the rigorous six-year pharmacy school program at Ohio Northern University, Elissa is in pursuit of a doctorate in pharmacy. However, she plans to continue spreading the anti-cyberbullying message in the future, for years to come.
To read the full story, click here to order a copy of the December/January 2012-13 fourpoints.
Written by: Leslie Townsend
Miss Kansas’ Outstanding Teen board of directors takes volunteering as a family unit seriously. Lisa Ronen and her two daughters, Becki Ronen Walenz and Mandy Ronen, have shared the struggles and successes of their extended pageant family since 2010. They value each other as individuals as well as members of a team.
“I love the saying, ‘It takes a village’ as I think this concept applies to not only the pageant but life in general,” says Lisa, the executive director of Miss Kansas’ Outstanding Teen. “A family, village, or team is vitally important to the success of any organization. A team should be more efficient than all of the individuals put together.”
Each of the Ronen women has been able to hone her individual skill set in order that the Kansas organization can benefit. Lisa entered the world of MAO in 1976 when her sister was named first runner up to Miss Kansas. Lisa herself advanced to the state competition’s Top Ten in 1979, and six years later, she became the director of her local pageant. Through the years, she’s held just about every volunteer role possible including pageant mom. Mandy competed first, but it was Becki who clenched the role as Miss Kansas 2009. Not much for sibling rivalry, Mandy stepped into the role of volunteer instead of contestant.
“We never wanted to compete against each other,” Mandy says.
Thanks to this familial lesson, although competition is a reality for contestants, Mandy, who produces the show and recruits contestants, is able to help her Kansas teens enter into each year for the right reasons–service and scholarship–not just simple to win a crown.
But thanks to the crown on her head, Becki lends support to constants that only a titleholder can give. While she lives in New York, she still lends emotional and practical support to those preparing for the stage.
“Becki has national experience from participating in the Miss America pageant and understands the organization better than anyone,” Lisa says. “Because of Becki’s experience and the support she received, her desire to give back to an organization that gave her so much is great…. Her knowledge is very valuable to our continued success.”
It is with great care and much heart that scholarship organizations across the country continue to bloom after decades of existence. This kind of success comes from the united mission of volunteers to hasten young women into the world around them as well-rounded and dedicated citizens. Like a mother who dreams to see her daughter succeed, the volunteers of MAO dream to see the goals of their contestants come into reality.
Read more about the Miss Kansas Organization and the volunteer efforts of co-executive director Lisa Miller in the February issue of fourpoints! Subscribe today!
Written by: Erika Fifelski, fourpoints staff writer
In Arkansas, the draw of pageantry runs deep. And it’s easy to find volunteers and sponsors to support the Miss Arkansas organization in its efforts to provide the very best scholarships and overall opportunity for titleholders and contestants alike. With a thirteen-member board and a separate foundation to manage scholarships, Executive Director Jessie Bennett notes that from locals to state competitions, there’s nothing like the Arkansas experience.
The Arkansas board runs the organization like a well-oiled machine, and it’s greatest strength—providing opportunities for contestants to achieve their educational goals—is also its biggest challenge. Like other state scholarship organizations, “we always want to provide more scholarships for our contestants,” Jessie said. The organization also wants to give its titleholders a top-notch experience, one they’ll remember for a lifetime. To do so, it’s banishing the misconception that it takes excessive money or training from specific people to win the title. Instead, Jessie emphasizes the importance of character.
“Being a part of this incredible program simply requires that you be your best you.”
Current titleholder Sloane Roberts says the organization is on the right track for providing young women the opportunity to learn and grow into well-rounded individuals who are ready for the real world.
“It’s given me a platform that I never could’ve attained by myself. It’s blessed me with the opportunity to share the love of Christ, and speak life and truth into my generation and younger children,” Sloane says. “Through this title, I’ve been able to stand in front of crowds of people that I never imagined I’d even see. It’s allowed me to do something that everyone aspires to do, which is be a part of something bigger than themselves.”
To find out more about Miss America's state organizations, subscribe to fourpoints!
Written by: Erika Fifelski, fourpoints staff writer.
During American Diabetes Month this November, Miss Hoover 2013 Briana Kinsey invited local teens to take action and Join the Millions in the fight to Stop Diabetes through dance, in the second annual Dance Away Diabetes Event to support the American Diabetes Association. On November 18, more than seventy energetic and talented Alabama teens representing three high schools—Hoover, Pelham, McAdory—and two middle schools—Bumpus and McAdory Middle—participated in a fabulous exhibition of dance routines at the beautiful Riverchase Galleria.
The fans, family, and friends of the various dance teams voted for each of the teams as the People’s Choice. The dance teams which had the most fan support at the middle school level was Bumpus Middle and at the high school level, the winning team was from Hoover High School. Both teams were named the number one Dance Teams to Dance Away Diabetes for 2012. All of the teens also learned important information on how they can confront, fight, and stop diabetes. Each dance team took a pledge to adopt a healthier lifestyle, which included eating healthy and participating in a regular exercise program. They were encouraged to share the information learned with their family and friends.
Joining in the event and providing service were members of the Sigma Eta Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated of Samford University, and Shawnise Gregory, who serves as Briana’s Rising Star.
Nearly twenty-six million children and adults in the United States live with diabetes, including more than 12 percent of people in Alabama. Alabama ranks as one of top five states in the nation for the prevalence of diabetes. An additional seventy-nine million Americans are at high risk for type two diabetes. Thousands of people are unaware they have the disease.
Briana, a college sophomore, has chosen Daring to Defeat Diabetes as her platform, and the Dance Away Diabetes was her idea to help teens get involved the movement to stop diabetes.
“As a community, we need to do everything we can to end this disease. We are asking everyone to help Stop Diabetes, whether it is by attending this event or getting involved in other ways. My hope is that dance teams all over the country will host a Dance Away Diabetes event!” Briana says.
This year Briana, in collaboration with the Tri-county Links, added a Poster Contest on the theme “Things I can do now to avoid Type 2 diabetes.” Youth in grades K-12 were encouraged to participate. More than thirty-five students from several schools took part in the contest. All students received service hours for their participation. This year’s winners were Jhameria Jolley from Phillips Academy, Ashley Matthews of Huffman High, and Jasmine Jordan of Gardendale High School.
In total more than $2,000 was raised through this event, and all proceeds go directly to the American Diabetes Association. According to Briana, “this money will go toward research and treatment of diabetes. Right now there is no cure, but we hope that one will be forthcoming to combat this chronic disease.”
Source: Briana Kinsey
Former Indiana titleholder and Indianapolis Colts cheerleader Megan* is two weeks away from a very chilly game-day look: If fans raise $10,000 to support cancer research before November 25, she will shave her head and cheer that way for the remaining games of the season.
CHUCKSTRONG is the Colt's latest initiative to show support to head coach Chuck Pagano who is currently battling leukemia. Colts football team members already shaved their heads in solidarity with their beloved coach, but the team was looking for another way to show support when it asked the cheerleaders for a volunteer who would do the same.
"I said I would do it, but that I wanted to raise a certain amount of money for cancer research [first]," Megan says. "I want to make a bigger impact."
The campaign to raise the money, and for the Colts Mascot to shave Megan's head, officially launched on Monday. Twitter marketing of the campaign launched on Sunday, and in just one day, CHUCKSTRONG raised $1,500.
"I have no doubt we'll raise $10,000. Hopefully we'll raise more," Megan says.
Megan is no stranger to the grief of losing a loved one to cancer. While competing in the Miss Indiana pageant, she became close to interview coaches Jim and Joy Robbins. It four years after Megan competed that Joy lost her battle with cancer, and the repercussions for Megan were harsh.
"She made a huge impact on my life. She helped me with my goals…and believed in me so much. She's probably one of the main reasons that I'm doing this," Megan says.
Thanks to the Miss America Organization, Megan and hundreds of other titleholders and contestants are introduced to the joy of volunteering every year.
"I feel like my interest in community service and helping others started when I won my first local. I got a taste for what it is like to make a difference in someone's life. That really helped shape me for sure," Megan says.
Shaving her head is a small sacrifice in light of what those suffering from cancer must endure, Megan says.
"To cut off my hair is not a big deal at all compared to what those people have to go through," she says.
Support Megan and CHUCKSTRONG by donating to the cause! Click here to learn more!
*Due to Indianapolis Colts regulations, the full name of members of its cheerleading squad may not be released to the public.
Written by: Erika Fifelski, fourpoints staff writer
The Miss Nevada Organization is excited to announce the 2013 Miss Nevada and Miss Nevada’s Outstanding Teen competitions will be held in North Las Vegas, June 14-15, 2013. Texas Station Gambling Hall and Hotel will serve as the host venue for the two-night competition where contestants from across the state will compete for the titles of Miss Nevada and Miss Nevada’s Outstanding Teen. The winners will go on to represent the state of Nevada at the respective national competitions, Miss America and Miss America’s Outstanding Teen.
“We are thrilled the pageant is coming to North Las Vegas, and Texas Station is the perfect venue for the competition,” said Amy Hacker, Executive Director of the Miss Nevada Organization. “Nevada is full of beautiful, talented young women and we are excited they will have the opportunity to showcase their beauty, intelligence, and talent in the entertainment capital of the world.”
During the first night of competition, the miss contestants will compete in on-stage question and talent while the teen contestants will perform their talents for the distinguished panel of judges. At the end of the evening, talent awards will be handed out to the top miss and teen contestant. The following evening, the miss contestants compete in evening wear and swimsuit and the teen contestants take the stage in fitness wear, evening wear, and on-stage question. Earlier in the week, all the contestants will take part in the private interview competition.
The two-night event will culminate with the crowing of the new titleholders by 2012 Miss Nevada Randi Sundquist and 2012 Miss Nevada’s Outstanding Teen Ellie Smith.
Tickets for the pageant will go on sale in the spring. For more information on the Miss Nevada Organization, please visit www.missnevada.org.
About the Miss Nevada Organization
The Miss Nevada Organization is a volunteer driven organization that organizes, executes, and oversees the Miss Nevada and Miss Nevada’s Outstanding Teen competitions which are official state preliminary competitions to the Miss America and Miss America’s Outstanding Teen pageants. Both titles provide a statewide forum for today's young women and teens to express their viewpoints, talents, and accomplishments to the public during the ensuing year. The Miss America Organization is the largest provider of scholarships for women in the country and contestants within both programs at the local and state level earn scholarship money provided by the Miss Nevada Organization.
Source: Miss Nevada Scholarship Program
Between silent auctions, golf outings, Bingo night, and donations, state scholarship programs across the country are getting creative in the name of providing contestants, teen and miss, with money for college. The Miss America Organization is the number one provider of scholarship dollars for women in the country, and thanks to the states, the doors of higher education are wide open for young women with and without a crown.
In North Carolina, having a solid sponsor base is how the in-kind scholarship fund is built.
"Our goal is to have a solid sponsor base, both corporate and individual in nature, that fully funds our scholarships each year," say Executive Director Beth Knox.
North Carolina's annual golf tournament proceeds build up the scholarship fund substantially as does the reinstatement of the Joe Sam Routh Scholarship Fund through which sponsors throughout the state donate in the name of the long-time volunteer.
Beth and her board embrace these fundraising traditions and at the same time, they are always coming up with new ways to showcase the organization while increasing the amount they can give to contestants–in 2012 a total of $147,700 was awarded to miss contestants. This year, they are holding a fundraiser featuring Jeanne Swanner Robertson, Miss North Carolina 1963 and a humorist and public speaker in conjunction with the North Carolina Museum of History, Beth says. The museum houses the Legacy of Miss North Carolina exhibit with seventy-five years of memorabilia including gowns, costumes, photos, trophies, and crowns. Proceeds from the event will bolster the 2013 scholarship fund.
The Miss New Hampshire Scholarship Program has fewer contestants than North Carolina, but just as much drive to help its young women enter the collegiate realm. They too look to fundraisers as a way to reach their scholarship goals, and Executive Director Brenda Keith says in the Granite State, they're the "roll-up-your-sleeves and work hard" type. In order to establish a weekly Bingo fundraising event, the program had to cut through a lot of red tape to secure a charitable gaming event license.
"It took me six months to get the state-issued license. I had to have my state senator sponsor a legislative change in 2000 allowing a 501 (c)(4) to conduct charitable gaming events. The Bill passed and we've run bingo ever since," Brenda says.
Coupled with an annual golf tournament and the Miss New Hampshire Ball, the state program is able to obtain 88 percent of its scholarship funding through events. The rest, about $35,000, comes from corporate contributions.
No matter the fundraiser, however the sponsorship is acquired, scholarship programs from north to south and east to west agree, the more money the merrier when it comes to sending young women to college. Organization volunteers and titleholders alike work tirelessly to share MAO with the entire country in order to convey its continued commitment to higher education.
Find out more about scholarship organizations when you subscribe to fourpoints!
Photo: Jeanne Swanner Robertston, Miss North Carolina 1963 and congeniality winner presenting the $1,000 Miss Congeniality award that she sponsors each year