Do you hear the words beauty pageant and then your eyes start to glaze over? I think as a little girl when you see one of those pageants on TV, the bright lights, the beautiful women, I think for a minute we all have dreams of Cinderella, the ball and big tiaras.

A few years ago, I met the (then reigning) Miss New York, 2019-2020,  Lauren Mollela from Millbrook, NY, she was a guest on the show, she really opened my eyes to what is involved in the current pageant system, including the scholarships she earned as a contestant, and how she spent her year of service.

So when Lauren passed her crown on to the next Miss New York, Sydney Park, I started to follow her, via social media, like a proud aunt. To be clear, the two of us have never spoken, online or in person. For the last few weeks Sydney has been completing her studies, and getting ready to compete in the Miss America competition, which took place December 12 - December 16, 2021, at Mohegan Sun Casino, Connecticut.

I jumped for joy when on the first night of preliminary's, I heard that Sydney won in the talent competition for her poetry, where she won a $2,500 scholarship courtesy of Kawai Piano.

Then the final night of the pageant, she placed in the top 10 finalists. It was with her poise, intelligence, and her professionalism, that Sydney showed the world that she could've represented the entire nation.

Did Sydney take the crown? She didn't, but there was another amazing person who did win the competition, Miss Alaska, Emma Broyles, who was the first Miss America from the State of Alaska in the 100 years of the pageant. Another first in the competition? Miss Alaska also won $105,000 in scholarship money. Congratulations to these ladies and all of the other contestants.

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