A crowning achievement for Amanda Kelly '08

After being named Miss Massachusetts 2009, she'll compete in the Miss America Pageant

Amanda Kelly '08

As Miss Massachusetts 2009, Amanda Lynn Theresa Kelly ‘08 says she feels like all of her hard work has paid off—but in all honesty, she hasn’t had to work at it for that long. In just her third year of pageant participation, Kelly beat out 16 other contestants last weekend for the Massachusetts title, and now she moves on to the Miss America Pageant in January. Kelly says the real jewel in her newly bestowed crown, though, is having the opportunity to further promote her fundraising efforts for childhood cancer research. “If nothing else, I’m excited to be an ambassador for the Make-a-Wish Foundation and take my platform to the national level,” Kelly told BrandeisNOW.

Her cause is a personal one. She started participating in pageants after her youngest sister, Vanessa, was diagnosed with cancer and became a Make-a-Wish recipient, because she saw it as a way to give back to those organizations that help young cancer patients and their familes. “I wanted to try competing in the Miss America system because contestants have a platform,” she said. “This has been my passion.”

This isn’t her first experience as a public role model: Kelly served as a community advisor for three years when she was a student at Brandeis. “Being a representative of the Residence Life department gave me a lot of responsibility at a young age, and definitely kept me focused and made me accountable for my actions,” she said. “Beyond that, the kind of stamina that it takes to be a C.A., especially when you’re balancing school and other jobs, is really going to help me balance everything that goes along with being Miss Massachusetts and being a representative of the state.”

Outside of her pageant participation, Kelly recently finished up a yearlong internship with the Walt Disney Company in Orlando, Fla., where she hopes to eventually work in a strategic marketing capacity. It's a career path that began when she minored in business at Brandeis.

She's also drawing on the other classes she took as a Hispanic studies major and Italian minor in her other role as a bilingual “wish granter” for the Make-a-Wish Foundation. Wish granters are volunteers who serve as a liaison between the foundation and the sick child and their family. “You ask them if they could have or do anything, what would it be,” Kelly explained. “You help them make that wish come true. You’re almost like a fairy godmother.”

Given her description, it certainly sounds like something that will come in handy when she's filling out that Disney application. 

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