While many students at Montclair State University might be preparing for final exams and the end of the semester, freshman Amanda Peacock is also busy preparing for when she will be competing for Miss New Jersey in June. The public relations major will be competing with 27 other girls for the title of Miss New Jersey, but her current title is one she has worked hard to achieve.
In fall of 2017, Peacock, 18, was crowned Miss Veterans Day, a brand new local title that was created by her director in honor of their father who served in the Armed Forces. Peacock winning this title qualifies her to compete for Miss New Jersey.
For Peacock, being crowned the first ever Miss Veterans Day was a special experience.
“Miss Veterans Day has never been done in New Jersey, or I’m pretty sure any other state so it was a big deal when I was crowned,” Peacock said.
She started out competing in the Outstanding Teen pageants from the age of 13 to 17. She won her first teen title at the age of 15 when she was crowned Miss Gloucester County’s Outstanding Teen. When Peacock started competing as a Miss at the age of 18, she came close to winning a few times, placing as the first runner-up in four out of five pageants. Peacock said her winning a local title as a Miss for Miss Veterans Day was an overwhelming feeling of “finally.”
“My jaw was on the floor,” Peacock said. “It was just so worth it because I had worked so hard for it.”
Peacock lives on campus in Bohn Hall but spent many weekends during her first semester of college going home to Williamstown, New Jersey to compete in pageants. She said that being crowned Miss Veterans Day made all of her hard work worth it.
“It takes dedication, it takes passion,” Peacock said. “It takes commitment, it takes sacrifice. I’ve sacrificed so many things, [like] going home on the weekends for it, so it was like that point was what made it all worth it because pageantry and the Miss America Organization is what I love.”
One of Peacock’s many passions along with pageantry is her personal platform Distracted Driving Awareness, which brings attention to preventable deaths that occur due to distracted drivers. She chose this as her platform when she first started competing as a teen after reading about a story that happened in a nearby town.
Toni Donato-Bolis was 28 years old and was driving home from a doctor’s appointment with her second child due in two days when her car was struck head-on by a driver who was distracted by his cell phone. Donato-Bolis and her unborn son RJ were killed in the accident.
For Peacock, Donato-Bolis’ story hit close to home.
“You hear on the news all the time about these types of tragedies, but when it happens the next town over from you…it shocked me,” Peacock said.
She made the decision that she wanted this to be her personal platform to advocate for something that could save someone’s life. She became involved with the Toni Donato-Bolis & Baby RJ Foundation along with many other distracted driving awareness organizations.
Peacock used her singing talents to further spread awareness through creating a parody video to Meghan Trainer’s song “All About That Bass.” Her parody song, “All About That Safe” currently has over 8,000 views on YouTube and the video advocates for people to drive safe by not texting and driving.
“My main goal is to end [distracted driving] because no innocent life should be taken because of something that’s completely avoidable,” Peacock said.
Peacock’s parents, Bryan and Jennifer Peacock, are very proud of her dedication to her classes at Montclair State and her efforts to end distracted driving.
“Her character, determination and passion shine through in everything that she sets her mind to do,” Jennifer Peacock said. “To see how easily she balances her education and her passion to change the world through her dedication to her distracted driving platform as Miss Veterans Day is something to surely be commended.”
Peacock said competing in pageants has helped her with time management and being a student at Montclair State.
“It helps me overall as a student too because I’m very passionate about pageantry and distracted driving and things like that,” Peacock said. “It makes me very driven and passionate with schoolwork, too.”
Peacock is a member of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) and is part of the creative services team for Hawk Communications, the university’s first student-run public relations firm.
Peacock said that the biggest misconception with the Miss America Organization is that it is strictly a beauty pageant that solely focuses on a contestant’s looks. There’s much more to it than just how a girl looks in a swimsuit or an evening dress.
“Miss America provides scholarship and it’s about community service,” Peacock said. “It’s about giving back and it’s about a sense of sisterhood. Some of the girls that I’ve competed with are some of my best friends.”
There are about two months left before Peacock competes for Miss New Jersey. She has been preparing by continuing to lead a healthy lifestyle by eating right and going to the gym as well as reading up on current events in preparation for the interview portion of the pageant.
This will be Peacock’s first time competing for Miss New Jersey and while she hopes to make it to the top 10 or top five, she is not putting pressure on herself to win. Peacock said she is focused on gaining more experience and having a good time with her fellow sisters.
“If I get in the top 10 or the top five or happen to win Miss New Jersey in my first time there, if that happens then it was meant to be,” Peacock said.