Laura Cosma, a 2020 Haldane graduate, is the reigning United States of America Pageant’s Miss New York.
Was this your first pageant?
Yes, but I had this dream since I was a little girl to participate in one. I had gone to a dance studio to have some fun and practice my salsa moves and met a woman who had been runner-up for Miss New York USA. She introduced me to my pageant coach, Megan Swanson, who told me about the United States of America Pageant. It has fewer restrictions on who can participate than some of the bigger pageants, which is great for a first-time contestant. It’s more inclusive. It has preliminary competitions in some states, but not in New York, so I had an interview with the pageant director.
Did you grow up in Cold Spring?
I am originally from Romania. I moved to Cold Spring with my family when I was 8 years old. I attended BOCES during high school [for vocational training] and became a licensed cosmetologist. After I graduated, I took a year off to figure out what I wanted to do with my life and who I was. I was doing hairdressing but decided to go to Westchester Community College for marketing.
What do you like about pageants?
They’re a great way to develop your public speaking, build confidence and make friends. You need to work on yourself to compete. The interview is the most nerve-wracking part because you have to instantly deliver well-equipped responses. Pageants highlight a lot of the great things about women, especially with Miss USOA because there’s no restrictions on how somebody looks.
As Miss New York, what are your responsibilities?
You are a role model, so it’s making sure your brand reflects your values. People are watching you, especially young people. The sash and gown make you look so fancy, and people are going to pay attention. It’s important that you reflect values that you want to be shared with the world. I am a Christian, so those include helping your neighbor, being a good Samaritan, making sure that you are kind and understanding. Growing up, I felt pressured to be tomboyish because I thought I would be more accepted or respected or my opinion would matter more if I was less girly. Breaking away from that and finding myself and my girliness and my power was important. That’s the kind of a message that I would like to share to other people who may feel the same way.
Which charity are you working with?
The Hoving Home, a Christian organization centered around rebuilding the lives of women who are recovering from addiction, or have suffered from human trafficking and homelessness. [The Hoving Home has a campus in Garrison.] It’s about 12 months for program completion, followed by six months of living a successful life outside of the program. What’s great is that the majority of the staff are women who have completed the program. Given that it’s a small charity, it often has issues with funding. I also volunteer, and I will be speaking at chapel in March. I’m going to talk about rebuilding your confidence, which is something I had to do growing up because I was a little bit of an outcast. There are some skills that nobody really teaches you.
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