by MIKE CHAIKEN
Sapna Raghavan has spent seven years of her life as a part of the Miss Connecticut Scholarship Program.
When she was younger, she served the Miss America program as its Miss Connecticut’s Outstanding Teen. Last year, she was crowned Miss Connecticut.
But Raghavan said she’s not experiencing any separation anxiety as she prepares to crown her successor at the Mohegan Sun’s Cabaret Theater on April 9.
“It’s crazy but I’m ready to doit (give up my title),” said Raghavan, 23. “I’m ready to see what else is out there for me.”
Raghavan explained, “One year, especially with Miss America being here in Connecticut (this past December), it has been quite a long year with a lot of different events.
“I was just putting my farewell video together the other night,” said Raghavan, and she recalled how her year included traveling to Alaska for the welcome home celebration for the former Miss Alaska, now Miss America, Emma Broyles.
Additionally, said Raghavan, “I had all these Miss America candidates come here (to Connecticut for Miss America). I had Miss Hawaii came to Bridgeport. It’s such a wild experience. And there’s a lot to reflect on.”
However, Raghavan said, “I’m ready for someone else to experience this amazing ride.”
When Raghavan was crowned a year ago, the world was experiencing the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic. This meant that any candidate who won Miss Connecticut was going to experience a different and history making year.
“I actually think it was really good for me (to serve during the pandemic),” said Raghavan. “Looking back on it, I didn’t really think about how it would be during COVID.”
However, the Ellington resident said, “A lot of my appearances were on Zoom… (For Miss America) we interviewed on Zoom. I remember taking off my mask backstage and then put it right back on after I put on my lipstick. So, it was a very interesting experience.”
“But,” said Raghavan. “I also worked full time and that’s unique – usually, as you know, the candidates tend to take on the job of their state title for their year. So having two things going on at the same time, it was actually quite nice to … be able to go to my basement and throw on a face of makeup and get on my Zoom calls (as Miss Connecticut).”
As she balanced her duties with a new job and being Miss Connecticut, Raghavan had the opportunity for some introspection.
“I tend to be this person who doesn’t say no to things… I definitely learned that I need to learn how to say no,” said Raghavan. “I also have never been someone who does one thing at (at a time). When I was sitting back during COVID– and I wasn’t able to start my job on the time that I thought I would — I ended up interning with(U.S.) senator Richard Blumenthal.”
“I could have been doing something casual with my time — watching movies, hanging out — but instead I (took on an internship). Then I started my full-time job at the same time as that internship,” said Raghavan.
“I definitely have learned that there’s nothing I can’t do even if I have a crazy schedule. I can find ways to take care of myself,” said Raghavan.
Raghavan’s year as Miss Connecticut also has provided her with lessons about people.
“I think the role of Miss Connecticut has always been– and will always be– a shoulder to lean on for people,” said Raghavan. “That really was evident this past year….I think the crown and sash just puts a spotlight on someone they can talk to … especially with young kids.”
After seven years in the program, Raghavan said she can see how she has evolved through the years. When she first competed as a teenager, said Raghavan. “I was a mousy girl in the back of the room who never raised her hand. Now I’m such a different person because of this.”
Raghavan also is proud of how she has helped the cause of diversity within the Miss Connecticut Scholarship Organization.
“Being the first Indian American for (Miss Connecticut’s Outstanding) Teen and for Miss (Connecticut), I feel a very special responsibility and there was quite an opportunity to bridge with the Indian community here in Connecticut– which is thriving and continues to grow… so it was very special to be a part of that,” said Raghavan.
“I definitely made an impact (as Miss Connecticut in this manner), even my Princess talks to me about having someone to look up to who looks like her,” said Raghavan.
The Miss CT Scholarship Organization, Inc. will hold the Miss Connecticut and Miss Connecticut’s Outstanding Teen competition on Saturday, at the Cabaret Theater of Mohegan Sun. A new Miss Connecticut and Miss Connecticut’s Outstanding Teen will be named as Sapna Raghavan and Aicha Diallo, respectively, crown their successors. Tickets are now available for purchase at missct.org/tickets.
Eleven candidates will compete for the Miss Connecticut title, and six for the title of Miss Connecticut’s Outstanding Teen in different phases of competition. Miss candidates will compete in private interview, onstage interview/social impact, talent and red carpet. Teen candidates will compete in private interview, talent, evening wear/on-stage question, and lifestyle and fitness.
Miss Connecticut Sapna Raghavan is photographed in Bolton, Conn. Wardrobe styled by Keely Lozier (@keely_style). Photos by Mike Chaiken