by SHARON CHANG
Victoria Cooper was like any other teenager at Monroe Township High School until she became a part of the Miss New Jersey USA pageant.
Each contestant in the Miss New Jersey USA pageant must go through a series of qualifications rounds before they become a contestant.
Cooper first submitted an application online with a photo. When the information was approved, she participated in a telephone interview. She received an Official Finalist Package in the mail, informing her of the sponsorship each contestant must raise. After another formal application, she only had to worry about raising the $1195 needed to cover her room and board at the Hilton in Parsippany during the pageant weekend.
Cooper held several fundraisers to help her raise the money she needed to participate. Her main fundraiser was selling Gold Canyon Candles, of which she received 40 percent of the profits. She also held a ‘Dine to Donate’ event at Applebee’s over the summer, and wrote to local businesses such as Ralph’s Italian Ices in Spotswood and BounceU in West Windsor to sponsor her.
All the contestants participated in a seminar to learn a dance for their opening number, meet the staff running the pageant, and meet Julianna White, Miss New Jersey USA of 2011.
The whole reason Cooper became a part of New Jersey USA pageant is due to a letter she received from the Miss Universe Organization around her freshman year.
“At the time, I had no where [sic] near the confidence I do today, and so there was no way I was going to participate… This past summer, I was watching television and the Miss USA pageant came on, and I was hooked again! I went on the computer and signed up the next day,” says Cooper.
Although Cooper does not have much experience with pageants, she is going to be herself and give it her all. Cooper is coming into the pageant to have a great time and to “have an experience of a lifetime.”
“I have met so many incredible women on this journey and have gained more confidence in the past few months than I have my entire life,” says Cooper.
It does not hurt to try something new. Cooper is a young woman who is going through a wonderful journey to make it to the top.