NASHUA — Next month, Samantha Russo will complete the journey of being a college student who didn't consider herself a 'pageant girl' to competing for the title of Miss America on the Atlantic City boardwalk.
The reigning Miss New Hampshire, a graduate of Nashua High School North, will be representing the state on Sept. 14-15 at the Miss America Pageant. The final round will be televised on ABC at 9 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 15.
"I got involved with the Miss New Hampshire Scholarship Program through a professor of mine at Emerson College," said the 23-year-old Russo. "At first, I was very hesitant because I didn't consider myself a pageant girl. But after I saw the amount of scholarship dollars this program awards to its contestants, my mind was immediately made up."
Russo competed in her first local pageant in New Hampshire on July 4, 2012, and less than a year later she was crowned Miss New Hampshire.
During her reign, Russo said she has spent a lot of time helping others as she prepares for the Miss America pageant.
"For me, the most rewarding and exciting thing about being Miss New Hampshire is bettering my community while simultaneously bettering myself," she said. "I love being able to promote different non-profits and my personal platform as well as gain real life experiences to prepare for my future."
Each Miss America contestant promotes a personal platform, and for Russo it is Kick Butts: Tobacco Education and Prevention.
"I chose my platform because I've watched members of my family struggle with their tobacco addiction my entire life," Russo said. "I want to do everything in my power to educate our youth on the dangers of tobacco and how tobacco companies target them to become new users. Tobacco-related diseases are the number one cause of preventable deaths in New Hampshire, the United States, and the world."
Russo said she is also looking forward to representing her state and taking her chance to be crowned the first Miss America from New Hampshire.
During the two weeks, and especially during the competition itself, Russo said she is excited to have the support of her friends and family.
After her pageant career ends, Russo said she plans on going back to school to get a master's degree in sports management. She says she would like to work in management for a baseball team or become a successful agent.
Russo's family, friends, and residents of her home state can give her an extra push to help her advance to the top 15 of the Miss America pageant by watching her video and voting online at www.MissAmerica.Org/VideoContest.