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Branford’s own Alyssa Sachs, 21, is the current Miss Shoreline and could win the title of Miss Connecticut on Friday, June 7. She says her time as Miss Shoreline has already given her a great opportunity to share her ‘Kids are Kids’ platform with others. (Photo courtesy of Alyssa Sachs )
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As Miss Shoreline 2019, Branford’s own Alyssa Sachs could win the title of Miss Connecticut on Friday, June 7—and her ticket to be in the running to become Miss America.
But Alyssa says her time as Miss Shoreline, which began in February, has already given her a great opportunity and a bigger platform from which to spread her work to help children facing difficulties. That’s all the more impressive when you learn that winning the Miss Shoreline title earlier this year not only marked Alyssa’s first pageant win, but her first time competing in a pageant, as well.
“I’ve been talking about doing it for forever,” says Alyssa, 21. “I kind of watched it from afar and really learned about the organization, and watched title holders posting on their social media all the incredible work and opportunities they were given to do in their communities and talking about their platforms. And so for a long time, I really wanted to do it, but never actually thought I could.”
The organization Alyssa looked into is the Miss Connecticut Scholarship Organization, Inc., an official preliminary of the Miss America competition, which is run by the Miss American Organization (MAO).
Last year, Alyssa had another thought, she says, which was, “Why not? Why can’t I do it?”
“The way I looked at it is you really can be anybody—you don’t have to grow up into this organization. You can join at any time, and really use this platform for whatever you want to use it for,” says Alyssa.
So she signed on to compete in the Miss Shoreline contest, and won. Alyssa feels this year is a great year to be one of Connecticut’s local title holders with a chance to become Miss Connecticut and, ultimately, Miss America.
“I think Connecticut’s really relevant today, and Miss America’s really relevant, and with the change of the [MAO] 2.0 organization, I think girls are really looking to [Miss America] as a relatable person,” says Alysa.
Last year, MAO established the Miss America 2.0 competition process to reflect a new, evolving era for the 97-year-old pageant. The new competition takes steps toward greater inclusiveness, with candidates no longer judged on outward appearance (the swimsuit competition has been eliminated, and candidates can choose evening wear to express their own individual style). Social impact initiatives now take center stage, giving contestants more opportunities to advocate for initiatives in communities, their state and beyond, and opening up more scholarship options for candidates.
Right now, Alyssa and other area title holders are preparing and rehearsing for the Miss Connecticut pageant, which is set to take place on June 7 at Waterbury’s Palace Theatre. It’s a busy time for the Branford High School (BHS) Class of 2016 alumnae (and class president), who is currently pursuing a B.A. in counseling psychology with a child at Boston University’s Wheelock College, where she will be a senior next year.
Alyssa recently returned to Branford with the end of the 2019 spring semester and is also looking forward to actively participating in the area in her role as Miss Shoreline, using her platform “Kids are Kids: Fostering Social Engagement and Play for All Children.”
“I’m really excited to be home now. I have a lot of things I’m working on,” she says.
Alyssa based her platform on her studies to obtain a master’s degree in Child Life and become a certified child life specialist. The health care specialty works with children and families to help kids with hospitalization stays, from providing family coping strategies to education and preparation for procedures, and even “explaining medical jargon in a way that a four-year-old would understand,” says Alyssa.
“I plan to take this platform throughout the shoreline and hopefully more of Connecticut, too, with school visits and [other ways] to highlight on aspects of child life and childhood. And the most important aspect is play,” says Alyssa. “So I want to go into classrooms and focus on the fact that, despite the many adversities that children may face and the struggles they might encounter, it’s so important to really make sure that they just are kids, and use their imaginations and learn through play.”
The Miss Shoreline title distinguishes Alyssa as the representative of a section of the state that encompasses a number of towns in the southern Connecticut shoreline area. Alyssa has an active following on her social media accounts (@MissShorelineMAO) with plenty of fans from her hometown and other areas. But now that she’s home, word of her title and her potential to wear the next Miss Connecticut tiara seems to be spreading even more.
“I think, ‘Thank goodness for social media,’ because I kind of eased everybody into it,” she says, laughing. “But I do think there are people who still don’t know, because this isn’t something that I have done my whole life, so it’s kind of new. But for anybody who knows me, they know that I’m pretty outgoing and willing to jump in. So from that aspect, I think they’ll be prepared!”
Even with its greatly updated approach, the pageant process still incorporates some pageantry fundamentals, including learning “the walk” used on stage. But Alyssa sees that as another opportunity to demonstrate empowerment for women.
“I see that as being really confident on stage, and showing everybody that you are confident, and you are that empowering woman,” says Alyssa. “So those [practice] walks around my dorm room and in my basement, or in my driveway with my friends and siblings critiquing me, have really helped me to gain confidence, and to be confident on the Miss Connecticut stage.”
Alyssa, who served as a BHS Choir president and performed in all four BHS music theater productions from 2013 to ’16, is also very comfortable on stage. As her pageant talent, she performs “Play Says Yes!” an original, 90-second monologue she wrote about her platform.
“I’m really excited for my monologue. It’s [about] a different talent, but it’s a talent I think is important and really special to me—working with children and creating that magic through play, and communicating that with children and families,” she says.
She adds she feels very lucky to be a volunteer at Yale New Haven Hospital as well as at a hospital in the Boston area.
“I’m able to use that [talent] every single day that I work with those kids,” says Alyssa. “So sharing the importance of play and sharing that power on stage is the best use of my 90 seconds, because I joined this organization in order to have that platform that allows me to share my passion, and share it loudly. So that 90 seconds is the exact, sole purpose for what I do, and that’s why I wanted to compete.”
Whether she takes the title or not, after the next Miss Connecticut is named on June 7, Alyssa is looking forward to continuing to get her message out to others in the shoreline area and beyond.
“Miss Connecticut is a role model—she’s an empowering woman who uses her voice, and uses it loudly, wherever she goes. As a local title holder, I hope to do that within my own community,” says Alyssa.
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