Miss Mass. refuses to miss out
Q. You’re 24, and you’ve done more than most people can manage in a lifetime. You’re a pianist, and also won a bronze medal skating? Did you win a bronze medal in the Olympics?
A. I won a bronze at Nationals. First I was US Novice Champion, then I was US Juniors Champion. I had a bronze medal at the senior level. I competed for the United States in 11 countries. I was a member of the US Figure Skating Team, which I was on for eight years. I started skating when I was 2.
Q. There’s the skating, but you also graduated from Harvard. What was your Harvard degree?
A. I graduated with high honors in English, but I also completed all of my pre-med requirements. I’m in the middle of the application process for med school right now. I’ve gotten some lovely acceptances, but I haven’t made any decisions yet. I’m considering pediatrics. I love working with kids. I’m on the ice every morning at 6 a.m. because I coach. So in addition to teaching my skaters on the ice I also tutor them in academics. I’m the all-purpose teacher.
Q. I don’t know how you find enough hours in the day to do everything that you do.
A. I think this is very calculated on my mother’s part, because she figured if she kept us busy as kids, we’d be less trouble. My sisters are extraordinary in their own right. They’re 19-year-old twins, they’re Harvard freshmen, but they’re also two of five students in the joint Harvard-New England Conservatory program. So they will graduate both with a master’s in classical composition and an undergraduate degree from Harvard. They’ve played Carnegie Hall multiple times. I really think my mom just kept us busy so that we were too exhausted to ever cause trouble.
Q. So on top of all the other things that you do, you decided to compete to become Miss Massachusetts, because you clearly had too much time on your hands.
A. Can I be totally honest? You’re going to laugh, but I think that had something to do with it. I was in school, I was working on a book.
Q. Stop! A book? You’re killing me!
A. Seriously, the reason why I had a year to devote to this was because I was lucky enough to do a thesis in poetry. My senior thesis was about the intersection of poetry and medicine based on peer work that I did with a pastor at a local hospital. It was motivated by the fact that I had ended my skating career and my grandmother had passed away. Both of those loves passed away simultaneously, and I was interested in looking at the way that people deal with tremendous loss.
Q. When you were competing for Miss Massachusetts, did you have any hesitation about entering a pageant? I think the stereotype is that some beauty queens are a few slices short of a full loaf of bread.
A. I’m a tiny spitfire. I see a challenge and I run at it full speed ahead. You’re absolutely right. I don’t fit the pageant mold, but isn’t that so cool? What an opportunity to take one for the nerd team. I’m not tall, I don’t have blond hair, but one of the coolest things for me is that I have the ability to go into schools and connect with kids, which is what I do as Miss Massachusetts. I’m 5-foot-2, I’m curvy. I’m first-generation American, but I have a lot of determination. One of the other things I became aware of is that I have extraordinary female role models in my family. I have a grandmother who went through the Holocaust, lost her entire family, and came here and started over. You felt like there was nothing that you couldn’t do. She went to college at age 60 after her children had graduated from med school, law school, and business school. I have this ingrained sense of responsibility to do something big and to change the world. And I carry that with me every day.
Interview was edited and condensed. Christopher Muther can be reached at email@example.com.