Colleen Ward crowned Miss Connecticut

Student-teacher Colleen Ward was crowned Miss Connecticut on June 27 at the Cabaret Theater at the Mohegan Sun Casino.

Ward competed with 12 other women for the title, in what many said was one of the most competitive groups ever to vie for the state crown.

Ward, 22, has been student teaching at Skinner Road School in Vernon, Connecticut, and obtained her Bachelors of Science Degree in Elementary Education specializing in English from Central Connecticut State University this past May. Her ambition is to become an elementary school teacher and reading coach, but she plans to devote the next year of her life to her new role as Connecticut’s representative.

“I’m very excited, and super-tired, but it was all worth it,” Ward said, just after her crowning, adding that while she is representing her hometown of Wolcott, she is also proud to represent Windham County as its representative and hopes to continue to build the connections she’s already made there.

Her platform is Promoting Childhood Literacy: Encouraging a  Healthy Mind for a Healthy Life, which she developed at a young age when she saw the effects of students who did not have access to the necessary materials or support needed to excel in school. Since then she has teamed up with local and national organizations to spread awareness and knowledge about the importance of literacy.

Ward said she can’t wait to get started on her new job as Miss Connecticut. “First and foremost, my platform is very close to my heart. I want to make sure that I represent literacy very well, as well as getting into the community – that’s a very big thing with me. I want to make sure I’m not just a Miss Connecticut that’s seen, but a Miss Connecticut that’s heard,” Ward said.

While waiting for the final announcement with eventual runner-up Jonet Nichelle, Ward said she kept apologizing to Nichelle for shaking so much. “My hand was going, her leg was going. She’s an amazing woman as well, and I was very proud standing next to her,” she said.

Ward is a champion Irish dancer who has had wonderful opportunities to showcase her talent around the state of Connecticut. She has been fortunate to dance at Mayors’ Inaugural Balls, weddings, college half-time shows, newscasts, parades, and national competitions. She was also selected as one of the opening dancers for Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance show at the Palace Theater.

After her year as Miss Connecticut, she will be pursuing her Master’s Degree in Reading and Literacy Specialization with the desire to continue working in the Connecticut schools.

Crowned at the Miss Connecticut’s Outstanding Teen finals earlier the same day was 17-year-old Sapna Raghavan, a rising senior at Ellington High School. Raghavan’s first-ever pageant was the Miss Greater Rockville’s Outstanding Teen competition, which was the title that earned her a shot at the state title.

“This is my second pageant, so I didn’t think this was going to happen,” Raghavan said, adding that after being named to the top five, she was already proud, as no titleholder from Greater Rockville had ever reached that threshold before.

Raghavan’s platform, Embracing Diversity through Cultural Awareness, takes inspiration from the author and major literary figure, Maya Angelou, who stated: “It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.” Being the target of racial bullying, Sapna has had to overcome much adversity and learn to face negativity head on. Her goal is to broaden America’s cultural outlook by celebrating and embracing all the various cultures in our great nation.

Her new title will certainly help her spread that message.

“It’s something that I believe in so strongly,” she said. “It brought me here, and it can only bring me higher.”

Raghavan already has a head start in her hometown, where she is a member of the Developing Positive Youth Culture group in Ellington, which strives to better the well-being of the youth in the community, and has founded the Diversity Committee at her school, which meets weekly to create new ideas that will help the student body embrace diversity.


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