A platform for change: Williamstown native competing for Miss New Jersey crown

Amanda Peacock, Miss Veterans Day, will compete for Miss New Jersey to take a stand against distracted driving.

Anthony Mazziotti The Sun: Miss Veterans Day and Miss New Jersey hopeful, Amanda Peacock, poses inside the Grand Theatre in Williamstown on May 21.

Amanda Peacock’s drive is unrivaled for her age. As a freshman at Montclair State University, the soon-to-be 19-year-old was involved in extracurricular activities in addition to becoming acclimated to the college lifestyle. This summer she’s working two jobs to help with the cost of college. The cherry on top? She is competing in this summer’s Miss New Jersey competition as Miss Veteran’s Day.

Peacock, a Monroe Township native, is one of 28 girls who will be competing for the Miss New Jersey title from June 14–16 at the Ocean City Music Pier.

One of the paramount components of being in pageantry is having a platform, or cause, to advocate. They can range from tackling the opioid epidemic to depression and anxiety awareness and everything in between. Peacock’s platform is distracted driving awareness.

“When I started competing, I knew that I had to choose a platform, and I saw people texting and driving all around me,” Peacock said. “I couldn’t drive at the time, but I knew it was an epidemic that is on the rise. It’s even bigger today than when I started advocating for it. What really made me want to bring awareness to it was hearing what happened a town over from me in Washington Township.”

She is referring to an accident that involved Toni Donato-Bolis, a 28-year-old who was nine months pregnant and killed by a distracted driver in June, 2011.

“Her family, since the tragedy and heartbreak they had to endure, started the Toni Donato-Bolis and Baby RJ Foundation,” Peacock explained. “This foundation is a scholarship organization that does different fundraisers, that I help plan and attend, to give a scholarship to students. The applicants write an essay about how they’re safe drivers and how they plan to promote safe driving.”

“People are so attached to their phones, and I don’t think they realize how truly dangerous it is,” she continued. “We want people to open their eyes to how dangerous it is. Innocent lives are being taken off this earth for something that’s completely avoidable. Distracted driving is a choice, and people need to make the right one.”

While the distracted driving platform means the world to her, it’s not the only reason she is part of the pageant circuit. As a lifelong thespian, Peacock thought a segue into pageantry would be a great next step.

“I fell in love after my first pageant,” she said. “It was an opportunity to share my voice, talk about distracted driving, talk about myself and interests with judges, and share my talent with an audience.”

The most valuable lesson learned from pageantry is a combination of skills. Peacock described them, “It taught me time management and public speaking. Time management and public speaking help me so much with my school work and it applies to every pageant I’ve been a part of.”

The Miss New Jersey pageant will be Peacock’s 18th pageant. Peacock competed in six pageants before being awarded the Miss Veteran’s Day title. In four of the five pageants before that, she finished as the first runner-up.

In addition to competing in pageantry, Peacock is a member of Montclair’s PRSSA (Public Relations Student Society of America) and a founding member of Hawk Communications, a student-run public relations agency where students gain experience in public relations and get paid for their work.

You can follow her journey to become the next Miss New Jersey on Facebook at Miss Veteran’s Day 2018, at Distracted Driving Awareness: Just Drive #ItCanWait on Facebook, at MissVeteransDay2018 on Instagram, and ItCanWaitDDA on Instagram.