By Shanana Jackson
Lauren Schwartzberg, a 17-year-old senior at Benjamin Cardozo High School in Bayside and newly licensed driver, won a 2014 Ford Mustang Convertible at the National American Miss Pageant held in Hollywood, Calif.
Schwartzberg was surprised with the convertible, decorated in balloons and a big bow, outside her school, at 57-00 223rd St. March 7. She has been competing in pageants since she was a preteen and credits the National American Miss Pageant with instilling her with confidence.
The National American Miss Pageant is an organization that strives to empower young woman by fostering confidence, citizenship, service, better academics and the development of talent. Contestants are judged on the basis of their personal on-stage introduction, résumé, community service and posing in an evening gown. They are also judged on a series of interviews.
Schwartzberg is involved in numerous activities. She is a volunteer with more than 500 hours of documented community service. Schwartzberg is also an honor student, president of the National English Honor Society, a member of Cardozo’s play production team and an opera student.
She is an aspiring child psychologist and promotes her platform on the importance of physical activity and mental well-being. She has received numerous statewide awards for service, scholarship, spirit, acting, modeling, speech-making and even best résumé.
Although Schwartzberg did not win the National American Miss Pageant, she placed as the nation’s first runner-up. A twist of fate led her to win the 2014 Ford Mustang Convertible as a prize. The randomly selected drawing can be decided between as many as 600 to 800 National Miss participants.
Winners are given the choice of a lump sum of the monetary payment of $19,000, monthly payments of up to 36 months or the prize of the 2014 Mustang Convertible.
Schwartzberg chose the car and appeared elated as she zoomed out of the parking lot of Benjamin Cardozo.
She strongly encourages girls to join pageantry.
“No matter the outcome, you are always a winner when you do your personal best,” she said.
The next National American Miss Pageant for New York state will be held in August and is open to young woman between the ages of 6 and 20.