UNH students and alumnae participate in Miss New Hampshire competition
Published: Friday, May 4, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 15:02
The word “pageant” often conjures up images from TV shows like “Toddlers & Tiaras,” but for the 27 young women who competed this past weekend in the Miss New Hampshire competition, there was a lot of hard work and dedication involved.
Among the competitors were Lissa Silk, Jillian Granucci, and Erica Millett, all of who have ties to the University of New Hampshire.
Lissa Silk is a senior at UNH, double majoring in exercise science and theater and dance. She is a member of the Exercise Science Club here at UNH, but spends most of her hours off-campus working toward her personal platform, “Drive Against Distractions.” This year, Silk holds the title of Miss Manchester.
Silk’s interest in this platform stemmed from her mother being hit by a distracted driver who was using his cell phone, causing her mother to crash into a telephone pole. As a result, her mother had to have serious spinal cord surgery and now, six months after the surgery, can only sit or stand for short periods at a time while on high doses of narcotics and nerve blockers.
Silk is the spokeswoman for the Bike Walk Alliance of N.H. and is currently working on proposing legislation called “The Vulnerable User Law,” which would create harsher penalties for distracted drivers.
“As Miss Manchester, I am proud to say that, as of March 2012, Gov. Lynch made April the official month of Distracted Driving Awareness in New Hampshire to continue to remind all drivers in the state to keep both hands and eyes on the wheel,” Silk said in an email.
Silk is also an active volunteer with the New Hampshire Breast Cancer Coalition, Breast Cancer Stories, The Children’s Miracle Network, and the Dartmouth Norris Cotton Friends.
Her biggest challenge in the competition is missing four days of class, she said.
“However, I have had wonderful support from my professors the last four years once I informed them that I was missing four days of school to help pay for my education,” Silk said.
The competition provides scholarships for the young women who are competing. According to the Miss New Hampshire website, “We help to empower young women by awarding scholarship money to those competing for the titles of ‘Miss New Hampshire,’ ‘Miss New Hampshire’s Outstanding Teen,’ and various local titles through our network of local chapters, who demonstrate, in our spirited competitions, a level of excellence in the areas of scholastic achievement, performing arts, healthy living, leadership and community involvement.”
Silk had no interest in pageants until her senior year of high school, when a local director in the Miss New Hampshire program encouraged her to try the pageant.
“I was drawn to the talent competition as a professional ballerina, but other than that, I had no idea what to expect,” Silk said. “This has been my fourth year competing for the title of Miss New Hampshire and I have received more than $22,000 in scholarship money.”
During the competition, the contestants are scored on a scale of one to 10, with only whole numbers being used. According to the Miss New Hampshire website, the scores are broken down into 35 percent talent, 25 percent private interview, 20 percent evening wear, 15 percent lifestyle and fitness in swimsuit, and 5 percent from the onstage question.
For Silk, her biggest preparation was keeping up on current events, politics, and having an opinion on what is going on in the United States for the private interview question.
“During the 10-minute private interview with the judges, they can ask you anything off of your resume and platform essay, which you submit ahead of time, or anything news-related to see if you have an opinion and can support it,” she said.
Silk’s other preparations for the competition include following a healthy diet and exercise schedule, rehearsing her talent (ballet en pointe), and making sure that, above all else, she stays on top of all her homework.
Miss University Jillian Granucci is also a senior at UNH. She is a dean’s ambassador for the Whittemore School of Business and Economics and Alpha Chi Omega vice president of philanthropy. Her personal platform is ‘The Power of Pink: Breast Cancer Awareness, Research, and Support.’
According to her online profile for the competition, Granucci chose her platform in honor of her aunt, Lynn Oldham and family friend Christine Willet.
She writes in her profile, “Both women have such incredible stories of survival. I admire their courage and have dedicated my year of service to them. Through the ‘Power of Pink,’ I will create awareness and help to find a cure for this disease.”