crowned Miss Delaware USA
By Adam Zewe
Posted Monday, December 10, 2007
Vincenza Carrieri-Russo receives her crown and sash after being named Miss Delaware USA at the convention in Dover on Nov. 25.
When the Miss Delaware USA crown was placed on Vincenza Carrieri-Russo’s head, she looked up into the bright stage lights and said “finally.”
Carrieri-Russo, a Newark resident, was crowned at the Miss Delaware USA Pageant in Dover on Nov. 25. It was the ninth pageant she has competed in.
“I felt like I was on top of the world at that moment,” she said. “It may sound cliché, but it really was a dream come true.”
Carrieri-Russo, 23, dreamed about becoming Miss Delaware USA since she entered her first pageant at the age of 15.
She was named first runner up for Miss Teen Delaware USA in her first pageant and entered the pageant every year after that.
It took a lot of patience and perseverance, she said, because she lost every pageant until this year.
“When you lose so many times, you get down and it does become upsetting,” she said.
The support of family and friends and her own motivation drove her to compete. She set goals for herself and refused to rest until she had achieved them.
Carrieri-Russo exercised rigorously, ate healthy food, studied current events and practiced poise and public speaking to prepare for the pageants.
All the exercise helped, she said, but attitude is much more important than abdominal muscles when competing in a pageant.
“Without the right attitude, you won’t go anywhere,” she said.
She said she was confident this year and was not nervous until she arrived at the Sheraton Hotel in Dover for the pageant.
The three-day event went quickly, she said, because the 47 contestants for Miss Delaware USA were busy practicing dance numbers and being interviewed by each of the five judges.
Sixteen semifinalists for Miss Delaware USA were chosen for the stage show on Nov. 25, where they performed in an eveningwear and swimsuit competition and were each interviewed in front of the audience.
When the presenter announced Carrieri-Russo had won the pageant, she said she could not believe it.
“It was a dream, it was a goal of mine that I really wanted to achieve,” she said. “It is a wonderful feeling achieving something I’ve worked so hard for for such a long time.”
She won a number of prizes, including a scholarship from the University of Delaware, a 6-day vacation in Jamaica, a one-year membership to the YMCA and cosmetics.
The scholarship is Carrieri-Russo’s favorite prize because it will allow her to continue her education at the University of Delaware, where she is studying English.
She intends to take a semester off so she can make public appearances at charity events and parades throughout the state.
While making public appearance, she will also be preparing for the Miss USA Pageant next Spring where she will represent Delaware and compete for the crown on national television.
The national pageant is exciting, she said, but the best thing about being named Miss Delaware USA is the publicity it will provide for her literacy organization, Success Won’t Wait, Inc.
“The crown, the title, is like a microphone for me now. I can get into schools and talk to children about the importance of reading,” she said.
Carrieri-Russo, a graduate of Alexis I. duPont High School, founded the literacy program in 2002 when she was a high school senior. She has watched it grow into a statewide literacy campaign that has collected more than 100,000 books and created three independent libraries.
She hopes to use her title of Miss Delaware USA to help the program grow, the same way the pageant has helped her grow over the past nine years.
Carrieri-Russo said she decided to pursue a career as a broadcast journalist because of her experience in the pageants and the practice public speaking will benefit her in her career.
Being in beauty pageants taught her to eat right and that a healthy image is important, she said, and she learned about time management, goal setting and organization.
She said that even though beauty pageants sometimes get a bad reputation, they were positive experiences for her.
“Beauty pageants aren’t for everybody,” she said. “But, for the people they are for, it brings out the good in them. It opened doors for me.”
The Miss Delaware USA Pageant is a competition for women in Delaware aged 18 to 27. Any woman who meets the eligibility requirements can apply. The requirements and application forms can be found on the Miss Delaware USA website at www.missdelawareusa.com. For more information, call the Miss Delaware USA Pageant office at (302) 221-5587.