November 21, 2011
Charlotte Papp, a.k.a. "Miss Massachusetts," will compete for the title of National American Miss this week.
WOOSTER, Ohio — Thanksgiving Dinner in the Papp Household will be delayed this year — at least for a few days. The Gloucester, Mass., family will be on the other side of the country, where daughter Charlotte, a sophomore at The College of Wooster, will be competing in the National American Miss Pageant in Anaheim, Calif.
Papp, who recently declared communication studies as her major, joined the pageant circuit as a seventh grader and won her first title one year later as Miss Teen Rhode Island while attending Portsmouth Abby, a boarding school just outside of Newport. In August, Papp’s success continued when she edged more than 80 other contestants and was crowned Miss Massachusetts, which landed her in the national pageant.
It wasn’t the first time the 20-year-old Papp beat the odds. As an infant, just seven days old, she was diagnosed with Transposition of the Great Arteries (TGA). The survival rate is less than eight percent, and those who do recover are often left with a range of health issues, including ADHD and mild speech impediments. Most are not able to play sports. Miraculously, Papp came through the surgery unscathed…but not unaffected. “When I went to boarding school, I started to realize just how fortunate I was,” she says. “I decided that I wanted to give something back.”
And the pageants have given Papp an ideal forum to do so. She created an enterprise known as “Have a Heart,” a modest endeavor through which she collects books and stuffed bears and delivers them to children with heart ailments preparing for or recovering from surgery at Children’s Hospital in Boston. “Winning the (Massachusetts) pageant has given me an opportunity to expand the visibility of the program,” she says. “It has been very rewarding.”
Papp is also using that forum to trumpet the value of going green. She crafted a dress out of pop-can tops, which she says weighs about six pounds and feels like a suit of armour, but really catches the attention of the audience when it comes to recycling. In addition, she had a dress made of sails to represent her native New England.
Now, it’s on to California for a grueling week of interviews, photo shoots, runway modeling, and more. The winner will be announced on Nov. 27 in Anaheim. “There’s a lot of preparation,” she says. “I’ve been working with a coach on interviewing, delivering my personal introduction, and even walking down the runway.”
Papp says she is optimistic about the outcome, but win or lose, she will be back on campus for the final week of classes and the exams that follow. Eventually, she wants to pursue a career in broadcast journalism, but for now she will be content to return to the relative serenity of Wooster, which she chose over Denison, Kenyon, and Ohio Wesleyan. “Everyone was so nice and welcoming when I first visited,” she says. “I also knew that I wanted to play lacrosse, and Coach (Liz) Ford, along with the girls on the team, convinced me to come.”
It’s a decision she hasn’t regretted. “It’s the people that make Wooster what it is,” she says. “The students are great, and the faculty are always willing to put in time to help you succeed.”
1189 Beall Avenue, Wooster, Ohio 44691. (330) 263-2000
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