For Williamstown resident Alyssa Peacock, competing in pageants is about more than just crowns, gowns and displaying talent on stage. It is an opportunity to promote a cause, build confidence and make a difference in the world.
“It’s not about the outcome,” Peacock said. “It’s the experience you got from it with the girls, with the directors and with the organization.”
Peacock, a 14-year-old freshman at Gloucester County Institute of Technology, recently completed her second season competing in Miss America’s Outstanding Teen program. Last August, Peacock won her first title when she was crowned Miss Cape Shores’ Outstanding Teen. The title allowed her to compete in the Miss New Jersey Outstanding Teen competition at Clayton High School on Jan. 25.
Peacock began participating in the Miss America Outstanding Teen pageants in 2018. She followed in the footsteps of her older sister, Amanda, who also competed in the outstanding teen competitions and has twice competed for Miss New Jersey since turning 18.
In her first pageant season, Peacock entered seven competitions, but was unable to win a title. It wasn’t until her 10th competition, the 2019 Miss Cape Shores Outstanding Teen Pageant last August, that Peacock won her first title.
In talking about the difference between her performance at Miss Cape Shores and the previous nine pageants, Peacock said she entered the day with a lot of confidence and was relaxed rather than stressed.
“The day of the (pre-competition) interview was just really fun and relaxing,” she recalled. “I had a fun time that day. I wasn’t worried about the outcome of the pageant at all. If it was in the books for me, then it was in the books.”
“It was indescribable,” Peacock added about winning the title. “It was very emotional. It was a great feeling. I felt very accomplished and not overwhelmed, but fulfilled with what happened.”
Peacock’s success can be attributed to her confident but emphatic nature. Her platform, PAWS for a Cause: Adopt Don’t Shop, revolves around her love for animals and appreciation for animal shelters across the region.
“It’s all about encouraging people to go to animal shelters and not just adopt from animal shelters, but to volunteer and help them out as much as they can,” Peacock explained.
Her family adopted its first dog, Milo, from an animal shelter in 2014. The experience opened Peacock’s eyes to the benefits shelters provide to local communities.
“When I went, I saw firsthand how many dogs and cats (were there) and how much the shelters really need the help and volunteers and how much work goes into running a shelter.”
Peacock has volunteered with multiple shelters in the region, helping out with fundraisers and donating supplies. Though most animal shelters have age restrictions for some volunteer activities such as walking dogs, Peacock has still found plenty of ways to volunteer and hopes to spend more time with the shelters in the years ahead.
Even with pageants and volunteering, Peacock has plenty of time for other activities. Peacock’s passion is performing arts and she is attending GCIT with a focus on that subject area. A performer in more than 25 plays and musicals in her life, Peacock sings during the talent portion of pageants. She has also done dance since the age of 3 and continues to take tap and jazz lessons today. On top of her performing arts activities, Peacock also is an athlete and competed on GCIT’s tennis and swimming teams this year.
All of Peacock’s activities led to a busy winter as she prepared for the Miss New Jersey Outstanding Teen Pageant last month. The state pageant features the 20 winners of local pageants around the state. Peacock credited the Shores family of other competition winners from the region who helped the contestants prepare for parts of the competition with mock interviews and other support.
The support and camaraderie between the contestants is one of Peacock’s favorite things about pageantry. She believes the tight relationship she shared with the contestants at states helped make the competition so enjoyable.
“That entire day was so relaxing because of the girls,” she said.” I would just be talking to them, playing a game (with them) or running through our talents.”
Peacock didn’t place in her first state competition, but she did receive a $175 scholarship for participating. Peacock also enjoyed the experience and her love of pageantry means it won’t be the last time she competes on the stage.
“The whole experience — I had such a fun day and I’m so much closer with all of those girls,” she noted.
While Peacock hopes more titles and more chances to compete at the Miss New Jersey Outstanding Teen Pageant are in her future, she plans to use her current title as Miss Cape Shores’ Outstanding Teen to continue advancing her platform and promoting the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen program in the months ahead.