Ellington — Miss Alaska Emma Broyles was crowned the 100th anniversary Miss America at the Mohegan Sun Arena, on Dec. 16.
Broyles is the first Miss Alaska to win the Miss America title, and competed in preliminary competitions earlier in the week, where she won an award for her Social Impact Initiative, which is Building Community through Special Olympics.
Broyles is a junior at Arizona State University, and aspires to become a dermatologist. The $100,000 scholarship grand prize will help with that, which she elaborated on in the post-competition press conference.
“I’ve been thinking about how I’m going to pay for medical school. This organization is how I’m going to further my educational goals. This was such an incredible opportunity. I am truly so, so grateful for this,” Broyles said. “This was such an incredible class to be a part of, and I really think that any one of those ladies could have made an incredible Miss America.”
Broyles said one of the things she was most impressed with was the Connecticut casino.
“What an incredible venue. We have nothing like this in Alaska, so when I first came here, I was absolutely amazed — the rooms, the service — I see smiling faces everywhere I go.”
The bright, mature 20-year-old said she’s most excited about spreading the messages of her initiative to people across the country.
“Inclusion and empathy are more needed than ever. I think especially my generation has become so desensitized to the things we see in the media,” she said. “I really look forward to making a difference in the lives of people all over our country.”
Miss Connecticut Sapna Raghavan did not make the cut to the Top 10, but spoke to Courant Community during the week, and said that perhaps the most important thing she’ll take with her from the experience isn’t the crown or the scholarships, but the connections she made with the other candidates from across the country, and the preparation leading up to the big competition.
“It really makes you think about yourself. What is your passion? What makes you tick? What makes you excited when you get up in the morning?” she said. “I think every woman can agree with that. We do so many things, we don’t get the time to step back and just think about ourselves and what we like to do. I’ve really found my voice, and I’m unapologetically me, and I think that is awesome.”
“I’m the jokester of the class,” Raghavan added. “Everyone thinks I’m very funny, which is funny, because usually everybody thinks I’m this serious business girl. We were wearing masks, and yesterday I was trying to eat soup through my mask, and I had soup on my mask all day. There have been lots of funny things. The girls are so fun.”
Raghavan was Miss Greater Rockville’s Outstanding Teen 2015 and was then crowned Miss Connecticut’s Outstanding Teen 2015, before being crowned Miss Connecticut 2021 last April, also at Mohegan Sun.
At this competition, Raghavan was competing with two women with whom she also competed at the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen competition in 2015. She said seeing the changes in them helped her see them in herself.
“Everyone is grown up,” she said. “We’re all at this new stage in our lives, and it’s nice to have girls I can relate with.”
She performed a traditional Indian dance in the talent portion of the competition, which was very meaningful to her.
“It was amazing,” she said. “It was so special, because the audience was so quiet. I am used to performing Indian classical dance in front of Indian people, who know it and are keeping time with it … but I could tell this was different, because the audience was like, ‘What am I watching?’ which I personally like the most. I like to be ‘Ha, ha. Here I am.’”
For more information, visit www.missamerica.org.