What began as a one-time thing, turned into a permanent quest in the life of this amazingly beautiful and talented young lady. Amanda reflects on the day she and her Mom saw an ad in the local paper about entering a beauty pageant, “It looked like it would be fun”. 12 years later, Amanda knows on this day, her life was changed. Pageantry became a way of life.

Reminiscing, she says, “The experience was like no other. I’m grateful for what happened to my life because of competing. So many doors were opened. I received academic scholarships and obtained many once in a life-time, modeling opportunities. Most of all, this journey taught me valuable life-skills. When I was younger, I did not have a lot of confidence in myself. Through competing, I was able to gain much needed confidence and now, I feel I can accomplish any goal I set.

The most fulfilling part is the sense of accomplishment. It is not about whether you win the title, it is about being able to set specific goals and find the courage and power within yourself to accomplish those goals. Being involved in pageantry has truly made me a “go-getter”, someone who recognizes there will be obstacles in the way, but with confidence in yourself, you can overcome any limitation set before you.
Throughout my years of competing, I gained so much! I was taught valuable life skills such as confidence, responsibility, public speaking, interview preparation, how to build a resume, time-management etc. All of this, along with being able to better myself, I was able to create a number of beautiful friendships over the years and that is something I will always be grateful for. And of course, I gained countless memories. With each pageant, it truly is so much more than a competition – it is an opportunity to learn, grow and connect with others”.

Amanda tells other young ladies, “If you are thinking about competing, I would say to go for it! It is intimidating at first, but it is completely worth it! Don’t worry about winning… have fun with it! In the end, a title only lasts for a year – but the friendships, self-discovery and memories will last a life-time. For young ladies who want to model or compete in pageants, the first step is having confidence in yourself and believing that you can do anything you set your mind to. If you believe in yourself, you are capable of such amazing things!”

Knowing that everything good has something less than favorable about it, we asked Amanda what was her least favorite thing when it came to the Pageants?

“There is some negative light on the pageant world. Many believe pageants are superficial and only focus on the exterior of the contestants. Pageantry is so much more than that! As contestants, we participate in an interview process where the judges get to know us on a more personal level. This is where we get to showcase our intelligence, personality and true beauty.

Also, there is a high emphasis placed on community service. We find causes near and dear to our heart and use our titles to create positive change for these causes. It is so much more than wearing a beautiful gown and walking in heels – it is about women empowering and celebrating one another, showcasing our knowledge, having confidence and giving back to the lives of others”.

Amanda shares, there were times when she had to make choices between hanging with friends and doing pageant preparation. She is thankful her friends are understanding and know her involvement in pageants requires dedication and practice. Her parents were strict about school coming first. She learned early on, she had to balance the requirements of school to be allowed to compete. Amanda indicated learning organization and time-management skills at a young age was very important.

Amanda shares her amazing parents made a huge influence in her life. Her mother is from Kabul, Afghanistan and her father from Calabria, Italy. Her parents traveled to America for the freedom of a better life. Through hard work and determination, they created a wonderful life for Amanda and her brother. A life where they have a roof over their head, and food on the table – some of the things they were not able to have all the time growing up. Inheriting this same drive, Amanda uses it in all aspects of her life, whether it be with school, volunteering or being Miss New York. Her parents taught her the importance of being hard- working and never giving up on any goal or dream she sets for herself.

Amanda shared with RWO her current title and platform: “My current title is Miss New York 2017 for the National American Miss Pageant. My platform includes working with the children at the Boys and Girls Club. At the Club, I am a tutor in the Accelerated Reading Program. This is where I help the children with reading comprehension and helping them develop a deeper joy for learning. Furthermore, I am a mentor in the SMART Girls Program – a program that teaches girls (ages 6-12) to be confident, healthy, and optimistic individuals. I aim to empower these girls to reach their full potential and achieve the goals they set for themselves.

Over this past summer, I held an Inner Beauty Pageant for the girls I work with at the B&G Club. This was a free pageant for low-income children. I emphasized to the girls “Don’t worry about buying an expensive dress or getting your hair and makeup done”. They were judged solely based on their “inner beauty” – that is, being someone who is kind, giving and has a good heart. The pageant aimed to teach the girls the importance of being proud of who you are and recognizing true inner beauty! It was amazing seeing the girls participating and realizing their potential”.

Amanda shares with RWO we can expect to see her continue her career in modeling. This she indicates is one of her biggest hobbies and she absolutely loves it! She started modeling from a very young age and was fortunate to work with Kent and Mary Therese Friel of the Mary Therese Friel, LLC Modeling Agency. Amanda indicates the Friel’s taught her so much about poise, elegance, confidence and professionalism. Amanda knows everything she learned from them, she will take with her for the rest of her life. Amanda will continue learning Italian – Her family is of Italian descent and when she travels there next, she would love to be fluent.

Amanda will maintain a positive, healthy lifestyle and continue her work to empower youth being a mentor. Amanda would love to have a career in marketing. Being a business major, she indicates she is lucky to have a wide range of options when it comes to career choices. Marketing really caught her eye and it is something she would love to expand her knowledge on for the years to come.

Amanda wants to share with the readers her closing statements:
“Dreams don’t work unless you do” – this is a quote that I always keep in the back of my mind when preparing for a pageant. If you want to be successful in whatever goal you set for yourself, you need to work for it! Set a goal, make a plan and go for it! Whether that goal is big or small, if you put in the work, you will be happy with the results. Keep in mind that there will be obstacles, but that should only make you want to work harder! Believe in yourself and your ability to follow your dreams”.