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Long Island kids interview Miss America

Kidsday reporters Sarah Gover, Hayley Pepe, Kerri Gunther

Kidsday reporters Sarah Gover, Hayley Pepe, Kerri Gunther and Jenna Guerra all from Sayville with Miss America 2013, Mallory Hytes Hagan, at the DoubleTree Hotel in Manhattan. (April 15, 2013) Photo Credit: Newsday Pat Mullooly

Kidsday interviewed 2013 Miss America Mallory Hagan when she was in Manhattan.

Why did you choose child abuse as your charity?

A few of the women in my family were actually abused when they were little girls. And so I really felt like it was important this year as Miss New York City -- that's what I was first, then I was Miss New York -- to raise awareness for a subject that I thought was very important to me and my family, and I really needed some attention brought to it because sometimes we don't talk about things that are difficult because they're difficult especially for families. Hopefully, by people seeing that it's a subject that I care about, they'll maybe want to care about it as well and hopefully have that conversation in their household, which is like I said it's a hard one to have . . .

What are your plans after the next Miss America beauty pageant takes place?

I got scholarship money when I won. I got $50,000, plus I got $10,000 when I won Miss New York. So I have $60,000 to go back to school. So I'm going back to school in January. I'm studying at the Fashion Institute here in NYC. And I'm going to continue to get my degree, and then we'll see what happens. I'm going to do it in communications, I think. I'm going to stick to communications and see if I can't be your next "Good Morning America" news anchor or something.

When people found out that you were Miss America, did your relationship with other people change?

With my friends, not so much. I think that after I won, everyone kind of understood that my life is a little different now than it would be before. So it's very hard to make time to see all the people that I normally would have time for. I really enjoy spending time with my friends. That's actually been a more difficult aspect of being Miss America -- that I don't have as much time for my friends as I would like. And yes, people do change their tone when they find out that you're Miss America. They shake your hand and say hello, and then someone will say, "That's Miss America, oh." So yeah, people come out of the woodwork a little bit, but I think I have a pretty good radar [about] who's around for the right reasons.

What responsibilities do you have as Miss America?

I wear so many hats. Well my biggest responsibility is be a spokesperson for the Miss America Organization, which is a big job because it's a very old organization and had a lot of traditions and values, and they're very important. We strive to be very good role models. We also uphold the four points of the crown as Miss America. You have service, style, scholarship and success. And then I'm also a National Goodwill Ambassador for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. I do a lot of work with the charities that involve child abuse, and I'm the face for people who are sponsors for Miss America. My dress comes from a company in Canada, so I do a lot of work with them. It's called Joseph Ribkoff and we have Amway, who's our official scholarship provider. They give a lot of money to Miss America. So in turn, I actually spend a lot of time with them with their skin care makeup line, which is called Artistry. I'm a face for companies who support Miss America, I'm a face and role model for Miss America, and then I also help bring awareness to causes that are very important to me, but also important to the other young women in Miss America as well.

How old were you when you were chosen to be Miss New York, and were you still in school and which school?

I won Miss New York this past June coming up on a year ago. So I was 23, and I was in school. But when I won Miss New York, I had a full-time job as well. Being Miss New York is a full-time job, and I had an actual job. I put school on the back burner because I did have the scholarship money to go back, and then I became Miss America . . . I was studying at the Fashion Institute. I was studying advertising, marketing and communications. A lot of things all wrapped into one.

Did you always agree on your hair and makeup?

Did someone try to make me change my hair and makeup? Listen, you'll get to know me, you'll get to know real quick. You can't make me do anything. No, everything's always been my decision. I think that's a really great part of the Miss America Organization. We really want girls to be the best version of themselves that they can be.

So there's a lot of people along the way to help you, and there's a lot of people that will try to change you. But I think that the girls that are successful in Miss America are the young women who are able to kind of take direction but ultimately make their own decisions and do what makes them happy because it is your life. My hair and makeup has always been my choice. Sometimes good, sometimes bad.

How young were you when you won your first beauty pageant?

I was probably 2. I think I have a funny picture of it, actually. So there was a fair pageant that happened every year, and my family friend was the director of the fair pageant. So I did that one every year. You just went onstage and did an evening gown and we did active wear. So my favorite year was the year I wore a ski outfit and I had these little poles. I was like 4 and I would go . . . I've never been skiing. It was cute. I was probably 2, the first one. Boy was I happy.

If you had a message for the young girls today about a particular subject in school that they should focus on, what would it be and why?

Science and math. I think they should really focus on science and math because there are so many awesome opportunities and jobs that come out of those fields that you don't really think about.

Do you have to wear fancy clothes every day or just on special occasions?

I'm probably one of the most casual Miss Americas that we've had in a long time. Of course, at every appearance I'm wearing something that's from one of our sponsors, which is Joseph Ribkoff. We are also supported by this cool website called Rent the Runway. I'm always wearing one of those two things generally if I'm at an appearance, but day to day, I pretty much live in jeans and sweaters and flats. I'm a no fuss kind of gal. Probably much to the chagrin of the Miss America office, but I'm very casual and I like to keep it that way.

Do you have a favorite sport? If you do what is it?

My favorite sport to watch is also my favorite sport to play. It's basketball. I really enjoy going to basketball games. My favorite team is the Miami Heat -- -- don't tell anyone in N.Y. I like LeBron James a lot. I was really tall when I was younger. I'm pretty average now; but when I was younger, I was actually really tall for my age. I'm not good at it, but I like to play it.

On your website, I saw a picture of you in your IHOP uniform.

As I said, I'm National Ambassador for Children's Miracle Network Hospital, and IHOP does this awesome thing called National Pancake Day where they give away pancakes and people make a donation to Children's Miracle Network Hospital. That was one of my first big events with them, and it was a lot of fun. And their pancakes are so delicious.

Do you have any lucky charms; and if you do, what are they?

I got a necklace from about 10 of the other girls that I competed with in Miss New York, and they all got together and they bought me this necklace, and it's in the shape of New York, and there's a diamond in Brooklyn, which is where I was living, and I wore it in my interview at Miss America. A lot of times, people think that all of us secretly hate each other and that we fight, and that's really not true. We're very good friends. I feel especially in New York, I've had a lot of conversations with [contestants from] other states, and I think that New York has one of the best sisterhoods as we call it. So they all got together, and they bought me that necklace.

When you're older, will you let your children be in pageants?

I will let my children do whatever my children want to do as long as they do it with 100 percent. I have learned so many things from being a part of Miss America that are completely enviable. There's not a price tag you could put on the things I learned and the friendships that I've made. I have had wonderful experiences being a part of the pageants.

Do you like being noticed in public by people?

Well, it doesn't happen very often. It's kind of cool. I'm not going to lie. Would I like it on a larger scale, like would I want to be super famous? Probably not. I don't know. It just seems like it would be a lot. I'd feel very anxious. Too much.

What does success mean to you?

Success means to me that I have set goals for myself whether they're small or large, and that I have worked and achieved them. I think it's really cool when you can sit down . . . a friend of mine and I were actually talking about this the other day. You know, like you have a monthly goal, you have a yearly goal, you have goals you set every day -- like today, my goal is to the gym. If I could check that off, I'll be good. But I think that success means that you set those goals for yourself, that you're working actively every day to achieve them, however small or large they are, and I think that when you set small goals daily, they'll ultimately build to your bigger ones. You'll find that you're successful because you're working toward whatever it is that you want.


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