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Contestant shares 'inside' story

June 20, 2005|by KAREN HANNA

karenh@herald-mail.com

If scholarship pageant contestant Emily Conrad had her way, little girls would understand that being a princess means more than just having a pretty face.

True beauty radiates from within, said Conrad, who will compete this week with 21 other young women for the title of Miss Maryland.

"When my grandmother was on her deathbed, my mother asked her if there was anything she would have done differently in her life, and she said the only thing she would have changed is she would have spent less time worrying about how she looked," Conrad said Sunday at a sign-in ceremony at Valley Mall.

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Proud parents watched with eyes behind cameras as the Miss Maryland contestants awaited their introductions on a stage near the food court. One by one, the high-heeled contestants climbed the stairs of the stage, said their hellos and talked about their platforms.

The women will compete in casual wear, swimsuit, talent and evening wear competitions Wednesday and Thursday. The final night of competition is Saturday.

All events are at The Maryland Theatre in Hagerstown.

As Miss Washington County, Conrad, 18, earned the greatest applause from a partisan crowd of home-turf supporters.

Conrad said she wants women to realize that true beauty rests within a person. Her platform is "loving yourself from the inside out."

A graduate of Williamsport High School, Conrad plans to study Spanish and nursing at Towson University this fall.

After she and the other contestants each signed a map of Maryland, Conrad returned to the stage to pin a tiny silver crown in the yellow locks of the Washington County Miss Maryland Princess participant.

Alisha Deneen of Hagerstown beamed as her 4-year-old daughter, Jocelyn, met with Conrad behind the stage.

The Miss Maryland contestants serve as big sisters to girls ages 3 to 12 as part of the Miss Maryland Princess Program. Each of the girls met with their mentors Sunday.

Jocelyn, who turns 5 in July, wore a purple dress. She said it felt "good" to be a princess.

"She's a girlie girl, so she likes to dress up, definitely the whole crown thing ..." Deneen said. "She's our princess."

Conrad said she hopes she can influence other girls to see beauty both inside and out. Conrad said that when she was younger, she was very self-conscious about how she looked. That all changed when she learned of her grandmother's comments, she said.

Conrad, the daughter of Norman Conrad of Falling Waters, W.Va., and Angie Stone of Williamsport, said although she never met her grandmother, her words still ring true.

"That's why I'm competing ... because I think young women need a role model to say, 'You don't need to change, you don't need to be better. You're beautiful just the way you are,'" Conrad said.

According to Conrad, the scholarship pageant is a good vehicle for her message. Contestants are judged on appearance, as well as their performance in interviews.

They must show commitment to a cause, Conrad said.

Conrad glowed as she looked down at Jocelyn.

"Now that she's got that little crown on her head, we can go save the world, me and my little 4-year-old sidekick," Conrad said.

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