An Interview with Miss New Bedford

The reigning Miss New Bedford, Emma Gendreau (she/her), is a BSU sophomore majoring in Severe Disabilities and Political Science. 

Gendreau first got involved with pageants at a young age. Not only was she a dancer for the Miss New Bedford choreographer, she also participated in the Little Sister program, “a program for little girls and boys to have a chance to partner up with a candidate vying for the title of Miss New Bedford.” In this program, each child gets to perform at the pageant and get crowned and sashed. Gendreau said, “the feeling of being up on stage and having my own little crown and my own little sash … it was something that I always wanted to be.”

From ages 13-17, Gendreau competed in the teen program at Miss New Bedford, and this was her first year competing in the Miss category. Gendreau says she “had no expectations of becoming Miss New Bedford on [her] first try, but here [she is] and [she’s] so thankful for that.” Gendreau recalls her biggest challenge being convincing herself she was ready for it. That being said, Gendreau remarked, “if I had to give anyone advice that’s going through something like that, it’s that they’re not looking for someone who’s older and someone who has everything under control. They’re looking for somebody who’s passionate about what they’re talking about.” 

While preparing for the pageant, Gendreau spent a lot of time preparing her talent; a spoken word poem about her twin sister who has a cognitive disability. “I wanted people to know my family’s story within the special education system.” Her poem was entitled “Good Test Takers” and talked about “how our education system is built for good test takers … My sister isn’t one of those people … I just spoke about how detrimental the public education system can be for students with disabilities.”

Along with the crown and sash, Gendreau also won a year of service. With this, she plans on providing education for caregivers of children with disabilities, especially when it comes to navigating the school system. As Miss New Bedford, Gendreau hopes to “enlighten a lot of parents who have children in the special education system on the resources that are available to them and their children” and “be somebody that they can look at and say ‘okay her sister made it out, my kid can too.’”

As a title holder, Emma Gendreau will be competing in the Miss Massachusetts Pageant in June, a prelim for Miss America. Gendreau ended with these words of wisdom: “If anyone’s thinking about competing in a local competition… just do it because there is nothing to lose and everything to gain.”

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