Buff State plays host to Miss Buffalo scholarship Competition at Rockwell


Emily Niman/The Record

Buffalo State played host to the Miss Buffalo Scholarship Competition, which brought 15 women from ages 17 to 22 from the Western New York area competed for scholarships.

Olivia Smith, Staff Writer

SUNY Buffalo State hosted the Miss Buffalo Scholarship Competition on Sunday, Feb. 28 in Rockwell Hall.

The competition was the official Miss America Preliminary Competition. 15 women from ages 17 to 22 from the Western New York area competed for scholarships and career opportunities, as well as the chance to compete in Miss New York and Miss America.

The Miss Buffalo Scholarship Competition is an old tradition, dating back to the 1920s.

The primary objective of the competition is to award young women scholarship funding to help meet their educational goals. To be eligible to compete, women must live, work, or attend school full-time in the Western New York area.

The show began with the introduction of the hosts and competition rules. Executive Director Michael Terragnoli announced the show alongside Co-Host Leanza Cornett, Miss America 1993.

Since winning Miss America 1993, Cornett has been a host for television shows including Entertainment Tonight, New Attitudes, and Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire.

She became the first to adopt AIDS prevention as her platform theme.

“We are very excited to have Leanza on our stage this year,” Terragnoli said. “She is a true beauty.”

Contestants then introduced themselves by name, school, and an interesting fact about themselves while dancers performed a jazz routine to “Uptown Funk” in the background. As the crowd cheered after the opening performance, Cornett introduced herself.

“The journey to Miss America starts today,” Cornett said.

Competition scoring was broken down into several sections, including an interview on Saturday, the on-stage question, the fitness competition, the talent competition, followed by the evening wear competition.

For the on-stage question, contestants were asked a single question regarding their platform. Each woman chose a platform, which is an organization or campaign they work with and raise money for.

Platforms were service related, helping those in need, and brought attention to a group that requires extra assistance.

“These were all very civic-minded contestants,” Cornett said.

The talent competition included jazz and pointe dance, interpretive dance, traditional Cuban dance, singing, public speaking, and nail design.

Winner of the Miss Buffalo Scholarship Competition was Baylee Simpson, 22, from SUNY Brockport.

Simpson is an art education advocate, and her platform, the CREATE Initiative, revolves around developing self-expression and remaining true to one’s self. She believes it is important to start art at a young age.

Simpson’s talent was ballet en pointe. She wore a traditional ballerina tutu and used a tambourine in her dance.

As winner of the competition, she received $1,250 and will move onto the Miss New York Competition.

First Runner Up Emmalee Stawicki’s, 20, platform was“Emphasizing Safe Driving to Young Drivers.” Stawicki was in a car accident when she was young, which has since influenced her platform.

In the talent competition, Stawicki performed a piano and vocal arrangement to “Listen to the Music” by The Doobie Brothers.

Stawick has been playing piano and taking vocal lessons since age 5. She is from East Aroura and attends Canisius College. She received $750 for her placement.

Runners ups of the competition were Ayla Davis, 21, Bailee Russell, 18, and Isabel Skomrin, 17.

Both Terragnoli and Cornett urge everyone to come to the Miss New York Competition, as it is a great experience.

“It all starts at the local level, which is what makes this so great,” Terragnoli said.

Miss New York will be held on March 27, 28, and 29 in St. George Theater, Staten Island, NY.

Predictions for Miss New York and Miss America have not been made yet, because preliminary competitions for the states have not all been completed. However, Miss New York State has taken first place at the Miss America Pageant for 3 years in a row.

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