The Miss Vermont 2014 pageant, which was held on April 26, concluded with the crowning of Lucy Edwards as the state’s new reigning beauty queen. Edwards, of Indian origin, will now go on to the Miss America pageant in Atlantic City, New Jersey this September, where she will compete to succeed Nina Davuluri—the current Miss America, and the first ever of Indian origin—for the crown.
Originally from Virginia, Edwards’s Indian-origin mother was born and raised in Trinidad and Tobago, while her father is from the northern Virginia area, just outside of Washington, DC. One of five siblings, whose ages range from 17 to 31, Edwards just completed her sophomore year at the University of Vermont, where she is pursuing a degree in Neuroscience. She also spends her free time singing, cooking and running.
In this exclusive interview with The American Bazaar, Edwards talks about how she got into pageantry, what her plans for the future are, and what she hopes to accomplish as Miss Vermont and, possibly, as the next Miss America.
Excerpts from the interview:
What got you interested in pageantry? When did you decide to enter the Miss Vermont pageant, and how did your friends and family react?
I’ve always been a performer. I’ve been singing since I was four years old. However, I never really considered entering a pageant (only because I had plenty of other things to keep me busy!). I was in school at UVM for about a year and half before I decided to enter the Miss Vermont Scholarship Competition. I decided to participate because, as I said, it’s a scholarship competition, and out of state tuition isn’t cheap! I think what really stuck with me when I was researching the program that it was as much about brains (really, more!) as it was beauty! My friends and family were so supportive and excited for me throughout the process, and it meant everything to me to have them at the competition cheering me on
The current Miss America, Nina Davuluri, is obviously not just of Indian origin, but is the first such woman to win the crown. How big of an influence and inspiration was Nina on your decision to vie for the Miss Vermont crown?
I was overjoyed to see Nina become Miss America last year. She is such an inspiring woman. Seeing someone I can identify with very closely, for so many reasons, was really encouraging for me in wanting to enter the Miss Vermont scholarship competition.
What was the pageant process like, in terms of going from someone interested in becoming Miss Vermont, to actually competing in the pageant, to finally winning the crown? What was that feeling like when your name was announced as the winner?
I decided to apply to compete for Miss Vermont in January. I was a Preliminary Titleholder, so I went to workshops held by the Miss Vermont Scholarship Organisation in the months leading up to the competition. My title was “Miss Catamount,” because the mascot at my school, the University of Vermont, is the Catamount!
I had to eat healthy and exercise to prepare for the competition, of course. Mostly, I just practised, practised, practised! The weekend of the competition was nerve-wracking and exciting at the same time. We had rehearsals for two days, then on Saturday morning, the interviews began. The off-stage interview is one that many people aren’t aware of. The contestants have a business-professional interview with the judges’ panel that covers everything from current events to international affairs to your personal platform!
The format of the on-stage competition is much like that which you see at Miss America. My favourite part is the talent competition! It was surreal to hear my name called as Miss Vermont! I was definitely in shock for a few hours after. I can already tell that this is going to be the experience of a lifetime.
The Miss Vermont website says that you’re currently pursuing a degree in Neuroscience at the University of Vermont. What do you plan to do professionally? Do you have any plans to continue with modelling and pageantry in any capacity?
I am going to pursue a career as a neurosurgeon. I’m hoping to continue with modelling and pageantry in some capacity. I especially want to volunteer with the Miss Vermont and Miss America Scholarship Organisations (MVSO). MVSO is run entirely by volunteers, and all the money received goes towards bettering the program and providing more scholarships to young women.
What advice, if any, would you have for other young girls aspiring to enter beauty pageants or become models, especially Indian American girls? Do you agree with the perception that such pageants and competitions are belittling and denigrating towards women?
I would encourage girls to become involved with programmes like the Miss America Organisation. They provide millions in scholarship money, and also teach important life skills like scholarship and leadership. I would, however, want to tell those girls, especially Indian American young women, to stay true to themselves. This should be an amazing experience, and you will enjoy it so much more if you show the judges the real Lucy, or Nina!
I know that some people think that “beauty pageants” are degrading and belittling towards women. The Miss America Organisation celebrates the differences that make all of us beautiful, and it celebrates the fact that women can be pretty, and also intelligent, compassionate, and amazing leaders! I am in awe of the women I’ve met in this programme, and you’d only need to spend about 30 seconds with one of them to know that we are all much, much more than a pretty face.