Senior sweeps scholarship competition

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Photo courtesy of April Mauceri

Mauceri poses on stage with her award after her big win.

Interviews in front of a panel, questions onstage, public speaking, practiced talents, fitness routines and honor roll academics; all things Senior April Mauceri had to perfect in order to win the Distinguished Woman of New Hampshire award.

On Jan. 5, Mauceri took to the stage to participate in a pageant-like competition for the chance to win scholarships. In front of judges, she competed in six categories, including dancing for her talent and sharing her opinion on important topics.

“It’s not really a pageant, but it has some pageant elements, so it’s not like you put on a sparkly gown and wear a swimsuit or anything, but it’s similar,” Mauceri said. “Actual pageants are different. They’re much more intense and not as casual.”

It’s not a traditional pageant, because it focuses less on beauty and more on scholarly activities. Though competing in it wasn’t a part of her original plan, recent experiences convinced her to give it a try.

“My sister did it a couple of years ago, but she didn’t win, and I always told myself I would never do that, because I thought it would be so weird if I did,” Mauceri said. “I ended up applying, like a week before it started. Over the summer, I did some local actual pageants too, so after I didn’t win a title through Miss America, I decided I would try this one too.”

After beating out four other girls to win the title and sweeping four out of five categories, Mauceri came home with $1,350 of cash scholarships and the offer of full tuition to several schools.

“This definitely makes my college decision harder,” Mauceri said. “I know it’s a big deal, but none of the schools I liked offer this, so it just complicates things.”

She plans on attending the University of New Haven for forensic science next year, but even though they don’t offer this opportunity, she’s hoping that her title may still work for her advantage.

“I think this award might give me more leverage to get money, but I haven’t reached out yet, because I’m still taking it in,” Mauceri said. “I think the interview part of all of the scholarship competitions that I’ve done is also really going to help me with jobs and college stuff in the future, because you sit down with the panel, and it’s really professional, so I think it will help with the long run too.”

Though she pulled out a big win, she didn’t enter the competition expecting to do as well as she did.

“I was surprised, because I really didn’t think that I was going to win,” Mauceri said. “All of the girls that were there at the same time as me were all very talented and smart. I also didn’t really feel like it was a competition, they all just felt like my friends, because we spent the whole day together. None of them were super snobby or anything, and most of them didn’t really know what they were doing either, so it was more fun than anything else.”

With this win under her belt, it’s time for her to head to Nationals in June in Mobile, Alabama. She will spend two weeks preparing and competing there against the winners from the other states.

“I’m so unprepared for Nationals, because I didn’t actually think I would win,” Mauceri said. “I would like to hope that I have a good shot, but I really don’t have enough experience with this yet to really know. I won’t meet any of the other girls until I go in June, so it’s scary, but I’m more just excited to meet new people and do community service and stuff like that.”

As she progresses through the competition and learns more and more about the program, she wants other younger girls to follow her lead and apply for free for this opportunity as well.

“I definitely recommend it,” Mauceri said. “It was just such a great experience. When we got there in the morning, there was a life skills workshop, where they talked about how you could be your best self, so that was really fun, just to even be there and learn those skills and get those experiences. But I would totally recommend it to anyone, because it’s a really good program.”

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