2006-10-12 / News

Miss Rhode Island Teen USA is an island rose

By Michaela Kennedy

Rochelle Rose, 17, was named Miss Rhode Island Teen USA for 2007. Rochelle Rose, 17, was named Miss Rhode Island Teen USA for 2007. Rochelle Rose, 17, has blossomed like a princess lately. On Sept. 23, she was crowned Miss Rhode Island Teen USA 2007.

The high school senior charmed the pageant judges at Rhode Island College last month to take first place among 100 contestants from communities all over the state. "It was really exciting, unbelievable. I was shaking so bad onstage," Rose said. But spectators saw a stunning and self-assured Rose, beaming in her emerald floral gown and sparkling tiara.

Five days passed before she truly realized what happened, and what a big year laid ahead, Rose noted. She explained that new responsibilities would keep her busy, and she must keep on top of her press engagements and communications with professionals involved with the pageant. Rose will go on to the nationally televised Miss Teen USA next August.

Her commitments include making appearances for events such as the Special Olympics and Toys for Tots. One of the first public appearances Rose made since her crowning was participating in the Columbus Day Parade in Westerly last weekend, and she giggled with pleasure at the experience. "Little girls, and boys too, think you're an angel," she said.

Rose became interested in the beauty pageant two years ago through one of her best friend's older sister, Allison Paganetti, who won Miss Rhode Island in 2005. "Allison started out as my trainer," Rose noted. She remembered being a little uncomfortable at first, "having to walk onstage in a bathing suit and all that," but the confidence of getting second runner up in the Miss RI Teen USA 2006 spurred her on to compete again, and this year she moved ahead to a professional trainer.

When she first announced her desire to enter the 2006 pageant, she said her mother and sister did not give it much thought, Rose recalled. But when she placed as a runner up, family members caught her enthusiasm. "My dad can't stop talking about it, and my mom and sister are excited, too," she said.

Rose expressed much gratitude for those around her who have stood by her through the whole process. "The support of my family and friends is unexplainable," she said, adding that her three best friends from North Kingstown attended the pageant to cheer her on.

Rose has found the experience to be one of growth, and has a stronger belief in her goals now. She talked about the success of Shaelyn McNally, Miss Rhode Island Teen 2006, and about the pageant being a road of opportunity and inspiration. "Shaelyn opened her own day spa and started a cosmetic line," she said. "I definitely think the title gives you advantages," she added.

Besides her responsibilities to the Miss Teen title, Rose is busy sending applications to colleges. "I want to study forensic science and psychology," she said, admitting a fascination with crime scene investigation.

Rose offered advice for young women who dream of entering beauty pageants. She stressed that the chance to "get out and be independent" taught her to see what she was capable of. "Be confident, have fun, and never think that someone is better than you. You have to do that onstage," she said.

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