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Spring on the York College campus

Pageant Lessons

Madison Kennelly walks on stage during the Miss New Jersey pageant.

Madison Kennelly ’20, a senior Mass Communication major, knows some people think her sport is just a contest to see who is the prettiest, but that hasn’t been her experience in 18 years of pageant competition. “It’s about how you present yourself,” she says. Every competition considers a candidate’s social impact initiative. For Kennelly, that’s her chance to share her passion for volunteering with her pet therapy dog, Peanut.

Kennelly and Peanut have volunteered at libraries, hospitals, and nursing homes. She’s seen the impact her dog can have on people. It’s why she’s grateful to compete in pageants because they allow her to share her experiences and raise awareness for pet therapy.

Competing in pageants has taught her time management, public speaking, networking skills, and how to be comfortable with all kinds of people. They’ve also helped her financially. Scholarships she earned through the Miss New Jersey competition paid her way through three study abroad courses in Africa, Costa Rica, and India.

This year, during a production number at the Miss New Jersey competition, contestants wore clothes from their colleges. “It was really great that I got to show off my York College pride,” she says.

Kennelly learned about York College from her mother, Mary Jo (Stolz)
Kennelly ’88. When the two visited campus for an alumni dinner, Madison knew she’d found her future home.

As a Mass Communication major, she's learning how to use her creativity to tell stories through videos. What she really wants is to become a film producer. That's the big dream, she says.

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