Miss America Crowned, New England Titleholders Feel Like They Won

Miss Arkansas Savvy Shields  was crowned Miss America on Sept. 11 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. While the 52 women competing for the crown gave their best on stage and in the interview room, the two weeks leading up to the final crowning is a reward in itself.

Miss Massachusetts Alissa Musto was the only representative from New England to reach the finals of the Miss America pageant, but the six ladies from New England all gained a great deal from the experience.

Beauty Pageant News spoke with the six women during pageant week, and asked them what the highlight of their experience was so far.

“Getting to know some of the other girls has definitely been a great experience,” Musto said. “I was a little nervous, because everyone is from different parts of the country. You don’t know who  you’re going to mesh with, but I made a lot of great friends and they take us on a lot of different excursions. It’s almost like you forget you’re in a competition – It’s like a big vacation. We’re essentially celebrities for these two weeks.”

“I think the highlight so far is just how amazing the girls are,” said Miss Connecticut Alyssa Taglia. “The friendships that you’re going to leave Miss America with are amazing. I’m extremely close to my roommate, and I didn’t know her before we were assigned together. It’s about getting to know the girls and making friendships that truly will last a lifetime.”

“Just being around such an amazing group of women has been really incredible,” said Miss Rhode Island Shruti Nagarajan, who also won a $5,000 Women in Business scholarship.

“One of my favorite things I’ve been able to do is Facebook live sessions with my roommate,” said Miss New Hampshire Caroline Carter.

“It’s truly the time of my life,” said Marybeth Noonan.

“Everyday is a blast,” said Miss Vermont Rylee Field. “The first week was all rehearsals every day, but at night, they brought us out to a different spot for dinner, and to hang out. We went to a golf course, we went to a spa, so it’s really a chance to see Atlantic City outside of Boardwalk Hall.”

The contestants also shared their thoughts on performing on the Miss America stage during prelims, the competition in general, and what the judges seemed to be looking for in the new Miss America.

“I wish I knew the answer to that question,” Musto said. “At the end of the day, I’m just being myself and representing who I am, as well as Massachusetts. It’s either what they’re looking for, or not.”

“Performing and standing on the Miss America stage is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so I’ve been soaking it up,” Taglia said. “The interview was good. The judges were so nice. I actually left feeling very confident.”

Nagarajan said felt good after she performed her Bollywood-fusion dance. “It sounded like a crowd-pleaser,” she said. “I’m hoping the judged liked it. We made sure it was really exciting. It’s an enormous stage, and the adrenaline of performing up there is amazing.”

“I performed my talent a couple nights ago, and it went so well. I’m so happy with how I did,” Carter said. Her talent was indeed great, earning her the prestigious Non-finalist Talent award. “Interview went amazing. I’m so happy I got to talk about politics, my platform, and personal things.”

“I had an amazing time at prelims, walking out in my evening gown,” Noonan said. “I felt so regal, and to think that I finally made it to that stage was a humbling moment that I’ll never forget. Interview was great. I was contestant number one, so I went first out of everyone, but it went great. I felt super-prepared, but it was a very laid back interview. The judges wanted to get to know me as a person. I was really happy that I got to let my personality shine through.”

“It’s very surreal,” Field said. “The first day when they brought us on the stage for rehearsals, it was very bizarre. We were all just walking around saying things like ‘I could cry.’ You spend years thinking about the moment when you’ll walk on that stage, and then you do. I feel like I gave the talent performance of my life on prelim night.”

Each of the ladies said they have gained much from the experience, including lessons that will last a lifetime.

Musto, who already has a budding music career, and uses the stage name Alissa Piano, said the process will help her market herself.

“I think the publicity and the visibility of being a Miss America contestant will help me,” she said. “I perform a lot in the Boston and Rhode Island area, but performing on national television will help me in my own career, in addition to the scholarships and experience. Wanting a career in entertainment performance, I also have to get used to the long hours, little sleep and tedious schedule.”

“I think this experience will change me a lot,” Nagarajan said. “When I decided I wanted to compete, I was 50 lbs heavier. Miss Rhode Island was my goal, and I lost 40. For Miss America, I lost another 10. Just in that sense, I got my self esteem back. I love swimsuit. I love being able to show who I am.”

“It’s brought out a sense of confidence I didn’t think I had,” Carter, who was also Miss New Hampshire’s Outstanding Teen 2014, said. “When I was at Outstanding Teen, or even at Miss New Hampshire, I did get the nervous shakes. I would go out on stage and kind of freak out, and then when I would go backstage, I would just be overwhelmed. For me to have gone on stage [at Miss America], and I wasn’t shaking or nervous—I was just happy to be there.”

“I’m already changed,” Noonan said. “It’s so humbling to be up here and to represent my state, but it’s also encouraging. When it comes to my future –if I’m 21 years old, and I can be standing on the Miss America stage, the sky’s the limit when it comes to what’s next for me.”

Taglia said she also already felt changed.

“I just have more of an appreciation for this organization than I already had,” Taglia said. “I’m just so grateful to be here.”

“I have 51 new sisters, and the ability to run for two weeks straight without stopping,” Field said. “It’s also incredibly character-building. These are incredible women. To be around them all the time only serves to make you better. Win or lose, you’re gaining something just by being here.”

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  1. Joanne

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