Schwartzberg will head to Hollywood over Thanksgiving weekend for the national competition, and she said she wants to return “hopefully with a bigger crown.”
Competing in the National American Miss (NAM) competition for the past eight years, 18-year-old Schwartzberg is well versed in what it takes to be crowned queen.
Judged on a number of categories ranging from academics to formal wear, Schwartzberg particularly stood out in the fields of academics, volunteer service and the interview portion of the competition.
With over 500 hours of community service already completed this year, it is easy to see why Schwartzberg was the volunteer service winner. She said she regularly helps out at the American Red Cross, the Briarwood Family Residence, A Million Trees Foundation, Ronald McDonald House and countless others.
“Resume-building is really important for the pageant, so it’s kind of like an all-year process, as far as volunteer service,” she said.
Regarding her perfect score on the interview portion of the competition, Schwartzberg said it was one of her proudest moments, as public speaking used to be very difficult for her. The past eight years of competing in the pageants, however, have “changed [her] life completely.”
“Before, I couldn’t even go on stage for my school’s talent show, even though I would love to. I definitely was way more insecure about that,” she said. “Now my public speaking skills have improved, as well as interview skills. That’s such an important skill for life as far as jobs and everything, and through the past years coming from an average score to a perfect score, that was definitely my biggest improvement.”
That self-improvement is the reason why Schwartzberg said she has continued to compete in pageants for as long as she has, and why she hopes to compete for Miss America some day.
“I honestly had no idea of anything about pageants when I started,” she explained. “I continued with this particular one because I wasn’t there for the pageants, I was there for the self-development and the growth that I experienced through it.
“I stuck to National America Miss because it was very wholesome,” she added. “There wasn’t a bathing suit competition based on your looks. It was really about your resume and your community service.”
Schwartzberg’s platform raises awareness of the importance of physical activity for one’s mental health. With that in mind, in addition to hours of community service, she will also be training for the New York Marathon and running it for the National Alliance on Mental Health.
Her interest in health and the sciences goes deeper than the pageant work. Having just graduated from Cardozo High School in Bayside, the Jamaica Estates resident attends a seven-year program at the New York Institute of Technology, pursuing a combined osteopath medical school and B.S. degree.
State Senator Tony Avella welcomed Schwartzberg to his Bayside office, in order to honor her for her victory, saying it was “quite an achievement.”
“I’m so proud that you’re a constituent, and I know that you’ll do well in Hollywood,” Avella said to the teen regarding the upcoming national competition.
Many others believe so, too, including her competitors. Besides her academic and service achievements, Schwartzberg was also the runner-up for Miss Personality, NAM’s version of Miss Congeniality.
“That was probably my biggest achievement, honestly, because all of the girls voted for me and my best friend who was there,” Schwartzberg said. “That was really exciting, because you never expect it. You’re competing for the judges, but now all of the girls are voting for you too, so that was really fun.”