UB student crowned Miss New York
Contest winner juggles pageants, academics and community involvement
Matthania Volmy is not your typical pageant girl.
Volmy was crowned Miss New York on Aug. 18. She will have the opportunity to attend the National American Miss pageant in Anaheim, California at Disneyland during Thanksgiving week, where she will have the chance to win over $500,000 in cash and prizes.
A driven, goal-oriented student, the junior health and human services major aspires to get her MBA and work as a health care administrator.
She balances an 18-credit academic course load, leadership roles in three campus organizations, volunteering at her church and spending time with her nine sisters on top of participating in National American Miss pageants.
Volmy has been participating in National American Miss pageants since she was four-years-old. Her older sisters participated in the pageants, which inspired Volmy to give competing a try.
She was hooked right away. While her siblings are also active pageant participants, Volmy stressed that she was never forced into pageants; it was her choice. She loves getting dressed up and is a naturally charismatic person, so pageantry comes easily to her.
While some contestants hire coaches to help them prepare, Volmy has never needed one, because performing in pageants comes so easily to her.
The National American Miss pageants are not the stereotypical “glitz” style pageants, Volmy said. The pageants have a “professional perspective” and focus on participants’ confidence, public speaking skills, community involvement, essay writing and creativity.
Contestants are judged based on an essay, a professional resume, a phone interview and a formal wear competition. Volmy emphasized that the formal wear competition is judged based on “presenting yourself with poise and confidence,” rather than solely on looks. While contestants can wear makeup, they are encouraged to go for light, natural makeup that highlights their features rather than heavy, glamourous makeup.
Volmy is passionate about the National American Miss pageants and how they differ from “glitz” pageants. National American Miss pageants focus on a young woman’s ability to show “grace, poise and intelligence,” according to Volmy’s friend Olivia Marchese, a biomedical sciences major.
“It’s not like the stereotypical norm where you just dress up pretty and they’ll just pick you if you’re the prettiest,” Volmy said.
Marchese feels while Volmy is “very beautiful and poised,” her personality sets her apart from the prototypical pageant princess.
“She is confident but not at all arrogant. She is caring and empathetic [and] she has a skill set that goes deeper than superficial beauty,” Marchese said.
Volmy is effervescently confident yet laid back and approachable; it’s easy to see how she won over the judges with her infectious enthusiasm and wide, red-lipped grins.
While Marchese has only known Volmy for eight months, she was instantly drawn to Volmy’s “sweet and friendly” demeanor.
Community involvement accounts for 10 percent of contestants’ scores and Volmy excels in this area. She volunteers at her Christ Community Church in Lockport. She also maintains leadership roles; she is president of Tau Sigma, a national transfer student honor society and is an ambassador for the health and human services major. She also worked with Real Experiences for Real Students (RELM) for two years, an organization that provides practical, real-world experience and leadership mentorship for students.
Participants also have the option of participant in a talent competition. This portion, however, does not count towards the contestants’ overall score. It is just an option to show another aspect of the participant’s personality and practice performing in front of a crowd in order to develop confidence, Volmy said. Volmy loves dancing and plans to perform tap and hip-hop dancing at the national pageant.
As Miss New York, Volmy is expected to continue her active involvement in her community and to that end Volmy intends to attend the Buffalo Walk to End Alzheimer’s on September 16. She is also expected to post “inspirational”, “positive” content on social media.
“You’re representing the entire New York State, so you need to be respectful, kind, honest, trustworthy…all those good qualities,” Volmy said.
For those interested in getting involved in pageants, Volmy thinks they should “go ahead and get started.”
“Know right off the bat that it’s okay if you don’t win. As long as you’re involved and you get the experience of going on stage in front of millions of people and talking to the judges about what you like to do, that’s an accomplishment already,” Volmy said. “Winning is about more than getting the crown. You actually grow into a confident young woman, to have poise, and how to communicate with others.”
Maddy Fowler is an assistant features editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org