Whitestone resident Katherine McQuade beat out 29 other beauty queens to be crowned USA National Miss 2015 in Walt Disney World earlier this month.
McQuade, a 19-year-old sophomore at Marymount Manhattan College, began participating in pageants at the age of 10 and has competed in about 150 in her career. She says that pageants played a huge part in helping her growth from a timid young girl into a confident adult.
“I was such a shy child growing up, I couldn’t even talk on the telephone,” McQuade said. “Pageants instilled in me communication skills, confidence, poise and grace, and helped me become the person I am today.”
McQuade’s main platform in the USA National Miss pageant was to promote and raise funds for pancreatic cancer research in honor of her grandmother, who died from the disease.
McQuade has been working for the cause since age 9 by selling handmade pot holders and donating all proceeds to the Lustgarten Foundation. She was inspired to use the craft for charity because it had been an activity she enjoyed with her late grandmother, who gave her a pot holder kit as a holiday present.
While McQuade has raised over $5,000 for pancreatic cancer research by selling pot holders in 16 states, she is far from finished with helping out the cause. The beauty queen is determined to have her pot holders reach all 50 states and raise $25,000 for pancreatic cancer research by the time she’s 25.
Raising funds for pancreatic cancer is not the only civic service the young beauty performs. She also created her own mentoring program at St. Luke’s school in Whitestone for pre-K students, among numerous other volunteer efforts which total over 5,264 hours of community service.
Thanks to her extensive community involvement, she has been the recipient of a Lifetime Presidential Award for Volunteer Service, featured on Time Warner Cable NY1 “Queens Person of the Week,” and has been on the cover of Supermodels Unlimited Magazine’s Role Model edition.
McQuade, a competitive dancer who aims to someday be a Radio City Music Hall Rockette, says that winning this pageant is only the beginning of her crowning dreams.
“I’ve been doing this for so long it would be a little silly not to keep going all the way,” she said. “I want to be Miss Universe, Miss America, Miss United States. I’m going to go for it all.”