Interview, Fun Fashion, Evening Gown
7 - 28 years
As a pageant newbie, I had high hopes for NUS. As a pageant newbie, I have to say this was not a good start. I was bullied months before the pageant occurred and reported it to the director- I was ignored and quite frankly “left on read”. The girl was later awarded a national title. The so called “sisterhood” mentioned in previous comments is a farse. There was a clear distinction between those who came to have fun, and who came to “beat” others. It was very upsetting when myself and other collegiate division title holders would reach out and have zero response from others, including a current National titleholder who swears that the sisterhood was apparent. The contractual obligations were not followed through- as girls showed up days late to compete despite the requirement of staying at the host hotel Sunday-Saturday. As someone who flew across the country during a pandemic to be there, under the rules of the director, I was very hurt that the director made exceptions to that rule for those who lived in state. This pageant was extremely costly. I paid over $1000 to participate, that did not include any food or meals (besides 2), and the room costed $259 / night in the “required room block” that was not a block by any means- my friends and I were at least 3 hallways away. The pageant took place during a pandemic and while I understand numbers were low enough to proceed- the situation was unsettling at best. At the first instance of meeting the director at registration, we were actually encouraged to not wear masks and her words exactly were, “I probably shouldn’t be saying this.” Prior to arrival, we were alerted ONE time about the restrictions for travel and whether or not Hershey PA would even be allowed to host the event, and this was in the last weeks of June just weeks before our arrival date. I was also appalled at the lack of scholarships presented despite the implication that those award winners would receive a cash scholarship. If the pageant has “scholarship” in the name, there should be scholarships awarded, even if it’s the first year. Although I met a few girls in my division and others who I will be friends with for the rest of my life, I would encourage those interested in this pageant to look elsewhere. I am not experienced in the pageant world, but this was extremely discouraging for a first timer. Those I have spoken with during and since this pageant agree with the issues I presented, here and in our personal conversations.
My experience with the National United States Scholarship Pageant was incredible! Amber (the National director) spoiled us all week and everyone was so supportive and encouraging! It truly felt like one big family because we were all so invested in each other’s success! If you value scholarship, community service, and platform work you’ll be perfect for the NUS family! During interview I felt I was able to showcase my achievements as a summa cum lade graduate student and Ambassador Constituent Team Lead for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. I have 15 years of community service and felt I was able to briefly touch on all key points during the 6 minutes I had with the judges. As a Strategic Communications major, the emphasis on developing communication skills, building self-confidence, leadership skills, community involvement, and making a difference were extremely important to me and exactly why I chose this system. The location was perfect because the town of Hershey has everything you need. The week also allowed many nap and snack breaks which was much appreciated! I have been involved in pageantry for 7 years and I can truly say whether I had won or not the experience would have still been exceptional. COVID-19 pandemic has turned everything upside down this year and I’ve taken every precaution to make sure I always had a clean mask, hand sanitizer, and my areas were always wiped down with disinfectant in advance. We were also not the only national pageant occurring at this time. At least 4 other national pageant were within the same two week time period. We were asked to wear masks until we got on stage and we also wore them during rehearsal. I cannot speak for others but I made sure before I left Washington state that we were cleared to travel considering we were originally a surge state but because we moved into phase 2 we had no issues. Amber has also been intently watching rules and regulations to make sure her event could still take place. This pageant was two years in the making and it can be extremely costly to change dates/cancel the event at such short notice. She made the executive decision to go forth because Pennsylvania was in the Green phase when all of us traveled to Hershey. Also, our director immediately notified us when the governor of PA events over 25 people were to be cancelled and that she had gotten approval for our event to take place so communication was clear and there were no concerns in that respect. While we were told to take masks off for photos we would literally count to three, take them off at the same time, and immediately replace them. There was hand sanitizer around the hotel when needed (including the interview room) and I literally had 13 pocket sized hand sanitizers in case anyone needed some. As for the stage portion, because we were in our inaugural year we didn’t have the microphone capability of larger pageants where contestants introduce themselves. This was perfectly okay however because when we had our moment walking down the runway they announced us. Financially, the pageant is cost is exactly what I’d expect. Many titleholders don’t realize the cost do nationals until they experience all that goes into it a couple times. In other national pageants I’ve competed in no food was provided so I was glad two of our meal tickets were included. The host hotel was expensive but I’ve learned it’s SO much better to stay on-site. The ad page cost was the price of any compatible pageant like IJM or UNM. Opening number dresses were not included but I only know of one system who includes them in the cost so I didn’t think twice about it. The optional awards were presented professionally with plaques and trophies and our director made sure everyone went home with something. As for runners up not being awarded any prizes, I’ve been first runner up many times and all I received was a rose. Miss Collegiate United States 2019 provided us beautiful floral arrangements. The cash scholarship earned by national titleholders is dependent recruitment which makes complete sense. Any new pageant is originally in debt and cannot provide vast scholarships like a 100 year old pageant can. Plus, it is your job as a titleholder to recruit at any level. As for bullying, I was unaware of any among titleholders during pageant week. Everyone I spoke to and spent time with only wanted to build me up and I did the same. As far as I know I was in the NUS group chats and I never saw anyone brag about lying to the director. I was able to form friendships while taking time to myself which created a strong sisterhood with others who did the same that far extends the pageant itself. I agree the vision for the pageant is great and the director has a heart of gold and as the years go on NUS is undoubtedly going to realize it’s full potential. Had I not won the national title I would be competing again for sure. I am extremely happy with the hard work the current team put into making the pageant a success-it’s Ambers vision and her parents help in the execution and I’m so happy they were able to create such an astonishing event all by themselves!
This was the first year for this pageant and I believe the director did a great job. You are required to stay at the host hotel. I have been to several national pageants and they had the same requirement. It was so nice with such a short walk to the ballroom and not have to worry about driving to and from. The host hotel was very nice. It was a little pricey but it did include a lot of amenities that we used such as the pool/water area, FREE tickets to the Hershey Story (Museum), Hershey Gardens, & free parking for Hershey theme park. The hotel also had beautiful views and we were able to get headshots taken from the photographer. You do have to pay for an advertisement in the program book. It does help to get some sponsors, but this is usually a normal national pageant fee. The photographer that they had was amazing! Very reasonable and great photos. We also got our headshot photos the same day. The director was very nice and always available for any questions. Unfortunately due to the pandemic I wasn’t able to socialize as much as I wanted to. I am hoping next year will be even bigger and better.
I met some of the most incredible women through the National United States Scholarship Pageant and had a blast in Hershey. The Hershey Lodge is so fun and there was plenty of time to enjoy the amenities throughout pageant week. Overall I had a positive experience, however I would not recommend the pageant to others. Being during the COVID-19 pandemic, I was extremely concerned by the director’s perspective on mask wearing and generally not taking the situation seriously. We were actively encouraged to not wear masks the beginning of the week and that narrative only changed when hotel staff made it a condition of holding the pageant. Multiple girls were coming from high risk states and were supposed to quarantine for 2 weeks prior to the pageant per Pennsylvania Department or Public Health Guidance. Additionally, in the middle of pageant week the governor issued guidance that all indoor events >25 individuals were to be cancelled (I believe the host hotel was able to get a waiver so it wasn’t illegal), but it was still extremely concerning. There wasn’t hand sanitizer at rehearsal and we were told to take masks off for photos. Additionally, despite being marketed as a community service and platform based pageant, I felt like a lot more could have been done to make that true. The interview was very platform focused, which was great, however the stage show didn’t provide any opportunity for the audience to get to know contestants. I would have loved to have either a recording or the emcee read a few sentences about each contestant as she walked, or even an on stage presentation of our platform statements (prepared for interview). Financially, the pageant costs added up quickly as most food during pageant week was not provided, the host hotel is expensive and must be used for the full week including the day before check-in and after crowning, and ad pages are expensive if you do not get sponsors. Additionally the opening number dresses are not included. None of the optional awards came with scholarships, despite the director implying they would when we applied. Additionally, none of the runners up were awarded any prizes. There weren’t even floral arrangements. The cash scholarship earned by national titleholders is entirely dependent on them recruiting girls for next years pageant, so the award package containing a “cash scholarship” is not even a guarantee. This was extremely concerning given it was marketed as a scholarship pageant. The last concern came in regards to the anti bullying clause in our contracts. Bullying was prevalent among titleholders prior to and during pageant week, and some girls would brag about lying to the director in our titleholder group chat, including at least one who was crowned with a national title. Despite reports being made to the national director, no action was taken and reports were not acknowledged. Many girls formed strong friendships and appeared to have strong sisterhood from the outside, however the prevalence of bullying when there is supposedly a zero tolerance policy shows favoritism played by the board and their choices in selectively enforcing contractual obligations. The vision for the pageant is great and the director has a heart of gold, however the board has a lot of growing to do and needs to seriously considering bringing in additional business support if the NUS system is going to realize it’s full potential. As of now, I would not come back for another year and I don’t have confidence in the business sense and direction of the current team.