By MIKE CHAIKEN
A month has nearly passed since Waterbury’s Brooke Cyr came back from Orlando where she competed for the opportunity to be Miss America’s Outstanding Teen.
The current Miss Connecticut’s Outstanding Teen did not win the national pageant. Jessica Baeder topped the other contestants.
But the 15-year-old Holy Cross High School student and cheerleader looks back fondly on the experience, which happened in a whirlwind just a few weeks after winning the state title in late June.
“As I was heading down to Orlando,” said Brooke, “I knew that I was ready to be on that national stage.”
“Connecticut prepped me very well and I was so proud to be representing my state,” said Brooke.
“My goal when I first started was to be able to talk about my platform (fighting multiple sclerosis) on a national level and I knew going down there I was finally going to do that. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but I was so excited to meet girls from all over the country,” said Brooke.
“Meeting the other contestants was one of the things I was most looking forward to,” said Brooke. “I haven’t traveled to many states so I loved being able to meet girls from each one.”
“It was so interesting listening to each girl about how their pageant runs and the differences in all our states,” said Brooke.
“The girls were so nice and after spending a week with them it feels like I’ve known a few of them my whole life,” said Brooke. “I still talk to a few of the girls everyday and I feel so lucky to have made the life long friends I did.”
After Brooke arrived in Orlando, the real work began as the preliminary competitions loomed.
“I was so excited for the first day of preliminary competition,” said Brooke. “I had a great interview and was able to talk a lot about my platform…. So after feeling good about my interview I was more than excited for the first night of prelims (on stage).”
And on the night of the prelims, the first time before a national audience, Brooke said, “I thought about what it took to get there and knew that it was a once in a life-time opportunity that not many people get to experience. I couldn’t help to smile every time I was on that stage.”
“It was so much better than I could have even imagined,” said Brooke. “The whole week was incredible.”
Although she did not win, Brooke was happy with her performance.
“I went into the pageant hoping to leave everything I had on the stage,” said Brooke.
Prior to the state pageant, Brooke had a stint in the hospital and was uncertain whether or not she would even compete let alone win.
“I was more than grateful to even be at the national pageant and was very happy with everything I was able to accomplish in Orlando,” said Brooke.
“The first day of rehearsal, we were all told, ‘You will not be the same person you are today when you leave here. You will learn new things and become the better you.’ And they were right.”
“I compare myself to when I first arrived at the pageant to now, and I feel I have matured and see even more what this organization really does for young women,” said Brooke.
And when she looks back on her time as Miss Connecticut’s Outstanding Teen and shares the tale with her grandchildren, Brooke said she will tell them, “I will never forget my week at Miss America’s Outstanding Teen.”
“The biggest take away I had from MAOT was the feeling I had when I walked on the stage, knowing that I deserved to be there and all my hard work was finally paying off,” said Brooke. “The feeling of success and accomplishment because I completed my goal. And that’s the best feeling you can have.”
“I will tell my grandchildren that no matter what your goal is you can accomplish it. Even if you feel you’re so far away from it, never hold back,” said Brooke.
“Each girl at Miss America’s Outstanding Teen was very different. But one thing we all had in common was a goal. And not one girl was going to let anything stop them until they achieved that goal,” said Brooke.
Seen here, Brooke Cyr, Miss Connecticut’s Outstanding Teen, shows her fashion sense as she is photographed in downtown Waterbury, her hometown.
PHOTOS by MIKE CHAIKEN