On January 11th at Millville High School in Millville, Rizzuto received that crown, which gets her one step closer to the national title. The national pageant, the teen version of Miss America, will be held on August 2nd at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida
Recently, Rizzuto reflected on the Miss America organization and on her new title and what it means to her.
Formerly, Miss Liberty’s Outstanding Teen, Rizzuto is no stranger to the Miss America pageant system.
“I have been participating in the Miss America system since I was 13. My first year, 2011, I did not win a local [pageant], so I did not compete at the state pageant. In 2012, I was 2nd runner up to the title. In 2013, I was first runner-up. I was very happy each year to place closer to my goal of being Miss New Jersey’s Outstanding Teen,” said Rizzuto
In the pageant, each contestant had to perform and share her platform; Rizzuto’s.showed her depth of interests. For her talent, she sang the English translation of Mein Herr Marquis, frequently referred to as Adele’s “Laughing Song” from the Opera Die Fledermaus Conversely, her platform, “Balancing the Equation”, focused on the need to strengthen science, technology, engineering, and math programs for younger students in New Jersey and the United States Rizzuto, a junior at the Math, Science and Engineering Academy located at Morris Hills High in Rockaway, has created a program called STEM-CAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics through building Confidence, changing Attitudes, and Mentoring). The program, held at various area libraries, introduces these subjects to younger students in fun ways. It received a grant from Dosomething.org in 2013.
“In other countries STEM subjects are introduced at a much younger age allowing students to develop skills and interest in these fields early in life. Strengthening our STEM Education Programs will allow our country to continue to be competitive in the areas of invention, innovation and defense. It will also decrease our unemployment rate; which will improve our economy, since there will be qualified Americans capable of filling jobs currently being out-sourced.,” said Rizzuto.
Now that she is the state titleholder, she will act as an advocate for that platform. In addition, she has other responsibilities:
“I am a role model for teens in New Jersey, promoting the four points of the crown: scholastics, style, success and service. I am an ambassador for the Children’s Miracle Network helping to raise awareness and funds for their program. ……. I represent where hard work, perseverance and a dream can take you,” Rizzuto shared
Looking at all she’s accomplished and her new responsibilities, it may be surprising to hear that Rizzuto used to be shy when speaking to others. She feels that one of the benefits of participating in the pageants is that it has helped her become more confident, to find her voice. Now, she enjoys public speaking.
“I feel the Miss America organization has helped me to pursue my passions and discover who I am and what I stand for,” she shared.
Not only does the program help in that area, but Rizzuto noted that it is scholarship- based. There are many colleges which offer scholarships to state winners with certain GPA’s and SAT scores.
As she looks forward to the national pageant, Rizzuto has lots of support behind her.
“The Miss New Jersey Scholarship Organization is like a family. It is run by volunteers who really give of themselves to the girls and the program. I have received cards, emails, gifts and messages from members of the organization showing their love, support and willingness to help me be successful at the next level.,” she said.
The next level will start on July 25th when the state titleholders check in for rehearsals, appearances and social events in Florida. There will be three preliminary nights, July 29th, 30ththand 31st, The final night is on Saturday, August 2nd when the new Miss America’s Outstanding Teen will be crowed.
“It is a huge honor to be selected to represent New Jersey at the national pageant. I have big shoes to fill. In the past six years, five of the representatives from New Jersey have made it into the top 15. I feel determined to shine and make New Jersey proud,” Rizzuto said.