by MIKE CHAIKEN
Jillian Duffy and Lindiana Frangu held on to their respected crowns for a year longer than anyone else has in the history of the Miss Connecticut Scholarship Program. This month, the two women finally give up their titles.
Duffy, Miss Connecticut, and Frangu, Miss Connecticut’s Outstanding Teen, have held their titles for nearly two years. But the duo did not greedily refuse to give up their crowns and sashes. Instead, world events undermined their best efforts to finally welcome their successors.
The COVID-19 pandemic put the Miss Connecticut Scholarship Program in a bind. Although there were two attempts to hold the event last year, the health of the world necessitated that the contest would have to be held off until the pandemic subsided enough where the candidates for the title, volunteers and audiences would be safe to gather.
That moment of safety has arrived with the competition being held in a socially distanced environment at the Mohegan Sun Cabaret on April 10-11. There will 17 women competing for the Miss title and eight competing for the Teen title.
By the end of April 11, Duffy and Frangu will have met their successors and will have entered into life as private citizens again.
When Duffy was crowned in 2019, if she had been told that a worldwide pandemic would have meant she served two years as Miss Connecticut, she said, “I wouldn’t have expected it. I wouldn’t have believed it.”
“I definitely would have called them crazy,” said Frangu.
Duffy already had an eventful first year as Miss Connecticut. She finished in the top five at Miss America, which was held at Connecticut’s own Mohegan Sun Arena and broadcast on NBC. The second year was a bit more quiet as Miss Connecticut canceled all local competitions and Duffy was limited to virtual appearances in the community.
However, Duffy said, “I’m thankful for the time we’ve had as titleholders during this time of COVID because we’ve been able to … reach communities in a different way than we haven’t done before.”
“We were able to do what we love again, which was just amazing,” said Frangu, who is a senior at Nonnewaug High School prepping for college in the fall. To shift to a virtual reign, while still being able to have an impact on the community she serves, was incredible, said Frangu.
“This program and everything that it entails is really about being able to be adaptable… and be confident in whatever you are doing,” said Duffy, who graduates from college in the fall to pursue a career in marketing.
For the next titleholder, Duffy said this past year should serve as a lesson on what can be done in difficult circumstances. Even if she is doing the job from home and via a computer monitor, she still can have an impact on the community. “People are looking up to her and looking at her as a role model,” said Duffy.
The Connecticut programs already have a significant legacy, said Frangu. And the organization’s ability to adapt to a virtual world during this pandemic only builds upon that legacy.
“We’ve grown so many skills from going through the pandemic,” said Frangu.
With or without COVID, Duffy said the program has taught her lessons that will serve her as a human being. The Lewis S. Mills High School graduate said she knows she can have an impact on each and every person she meets.
These past two years as Miss Connecticut’s Outstanding Teen have helped her grow and mature as a young woman, said Frangu. She said she entered the program as a shy 13-year-old. She leaves it as a 17-year-old ready to take on college and pursue a future career. “It’s just a little crazy to think I’ve come this far,” said Frangu.
After two years as Miss Connecticut, Duffy said she’s going to miss her jam-packed schedule of activities after April 11. There will be a different sensation facing her when she looks at her agenda each Monday.
“It’s weird going into a normal life,” said Frangu. “I have fun things planned ahead.”
Audiences should come out to the Mohegan Sun to see the competition and to see who wins, said Duffy. “Our group is filled with amazing young women… women who worked so hard to get here.”
Candidates for Miss Connecticut:
Sylvana Gonzalez of New Britain
Title: Miss New Britain
Victoria Lemme of Danbury
Title: Miss Hartford
Jaymie Bianca of Bristol
Title: Miss Bristol
Alyssa Anderson of Wolcott
Title: Miss New Haven County
Ashlyn Mercier of Oxford, Mass.
Title: Miss Gold Coast
Leah Juliett of Wolcott
Title: Miss Greater Rockville
Margaret Carpenter of Hamden
Title: Miss Greater Hamden
Anna Jani of Milford
Taliyah McGee of West Haven
Title: Miss West Haven
Emma Rook of Redding
Title: Miss Fairfield County
Sierra O’Keefe of Milford
Title: Miss Nutmeg
Monica Fenwick of Watertown
Title: Miss Greater Watertown
Laura Christie of Milford
Title: Miss Milford
Sapna Raghavan of Ellington
Title: Miss Pleasant Valley
Olivia Sally of Oakland, Calif.
Title: Miss East Haven
Alyssa Sachs of Branford
Title: Miss Branford
Jessica Collins of Tolland
Title: Miss Tolland County
Grace Kelly Nowak
The Miss Connecticut Scholarship Competition will be held April 10-11 in the Cabaret at the Mohegan Sun Resort Casino.
Additionally, there will be a satellite room in the Uncas Ballroom, where the competition will be streamed. There will be a large viewing screen where seats will be theater style and socially distanced. Tickets are $100 for an all season pass to watch all three shows. The stream will only be available in the ballroom.
The Miss Connecticut preliminaries will be Saturday, April 10 3-5 p.m.; the Miss Connecticut’s Outstanding Teen finals will be held Saturday, April 10, 7-9 p.m.; and the Miss finals will be Sunday 2-4 p.m.
For information, visit MissCT.org