DERRY — Miss New Hampshire is encouraging more young women to join the scholarship sisterhood.
Sarah Tubbs of Sandown said before she took home the title of Miss New Hampshire in April, she had earned $40,000 in scholarship money through local and state competitions. At the Miss New Hampshire competition, she earned $17,000.
Tubbs graduated in 2016 from the University of New Hampshire with a degree in marketing and management. She is now debt-free.
Tubbs was working as a server at Applebee’s in Epping when she was approached by some local directors involved in the Miss New Hampshire Scholarship Program. It took her two years to sign up because she was uncertain if the competition would be for her, even though she is a dancer and performs community service.
But when she was 20 years old, Tubbs realized she couldn’t pass up the scholarship money that was available through the program. With no entry fee, she figured she would give Miss New Hampshire a shot.
“My sight was set on the goal of just going to some locals and getting some scholarship dollars,” Tubbs said.
Now, five years later, Tubbs has the crown and will be representing the Granite State at the Miss America competition Dec. 19 at the Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut.
Tubbs said there is a misconception that it costs a lot of money to compete. She said a number of the women in the state and local competitions spend as little as possible so their scholarship money counts.
“It is completely the candidate’s choice. Some people go ahead and spend money because they want a new gown, or they want this or that, and I just don’t think there’s any need for that,” Tubbs said.
Tubbs said when she first got into the program, she wore an old prom dress and many of the competitors actually loaned each other clothing.
Emily Tolson, who was Miss New Hampshire in 2006 and co-directs Miss Bedford with Melissa Stevens, said when she won her state title she was in a $99 lime green dress she had purchased at the mall.
Tolson said the Miss New Hampshire system is about scholarship.
“It’s not what you look like in a dress, and it doesn’t need to be a certain color or style,” Tolson said.
Tolson earned $65,000 in scholarship money through her years competing in the Miss New Hampshire Scholarship Program. She said changes to the scoring system put more of an emphasis on talent now.
As a local director, she has an easier time recruiting women who are already into dancing, singing or playing the piano, but there are many different ways competitors can use their passions for the talent category.
“It can be a little bit outside the box. There’s been baton twirlers, speed painters and people who recite monologues,” Tolson said.
There are typically between four and 10 competitors at Miss Bedford, which is coming up on Sept. 14. The Miss Manchester contest is on Aug. 17, starting at 5 p.m. inside the SNHU Walker Auditorium on North River Road. It costs $15 to get in and all the proceeds go to scholarship dollars for the winners.
The winner of Miss Manchester earns a $1,000 scholarship, which is not as big as some of the other local prizes. Director Sirena Lemieux is hoping that in addition to recruiting some more contestants, she can find some more local volunteers willing to help out with fundraising.
Lemieux was Miss Manchester in 1996. She said the skills she learned by serving in that role have helped her in life.
“The skills you learn in this program you will need in college and the workforce,” she said.
The Miss New Hampshire Scholarship Program is part of Miss America 2.0. For more information about how to get involved, visit missnh.org.