DERRY — For Megan Cooley, the path that led to her becoming the newly crowned Miss New Hampshire 2014 began when she was only a child.
The 20-year-old Auburn resident won the 68th competition Saturday night before hundreds of people who filled Pinkerton Academy’s Stockbridge Theatre almost to capacity.
Despite having laryngitis, Cooley found the vocal strength to perform in the musical segment and sang “On My Way.” The song proved to be prophetic as she impressed the judges with her tenacity and went on to victory.“I think they remembered my performance from the night before and just felt that talent isn’t all of it,” said Cooley, her voice breaking slightly as she spoke. “It’s about representing the state with pride and confidence.”
After her stunning win, Cooley said she became involved in musical theater as a child. One of her directors was Candace Glickman, the 2003 winner. Cooley said she followed Glickman’s advice and began competing in pageants when she was a sophomore in high school.
“So, she pushed me to compete, and I really needed the scholarship money so I started after that,” said Cooley, who won the Miss Greater Derry competition.
All of the effort paid off as Cooley, who attends the University of New Hampshire, won approximately $14,000 in scholarships. During her first two years at UNH, Cooley earned an impressive 3.92 GPA with two majors, neuroscience and psychology. Her career ambition is to become a pediatric oncologist and work at Boston Children’s Hospital.
It was at Children’s Hospital that Cooley said she experienced her greatest achievement so far. Last year, she began The Scarf Project, which brought scarves to patients at the hospital, according to the Miss New Hampshire 2014 program.
As for what she plans to do during her reign as Miss New Hampshire, Cooley said she will represent the 2014 pageant class to the best of her ability.
“I just want to serve the state of New Hampshire the best that I can,” she said. “I plan to be at every appearance that I ever need to be.”
Cooley seems to have an adventurous side and said her secret dream is to bungee jump.“I would love to experience the sensation of free falling with beautiful scenery below me ... hopefully I can keep my eyes open,” Cooley said.
As the Miss New Hampshire winner, Cooley is eligible to compete in the Miss America pageant later this year in September. Cooley said the event doesn’t seem that far off and she is eager to take the next step in her pageant career.
“I can’t wait to start preparing for Miss America. It’s a dream of mine to walk out on that stage.”