BY HALEY HODGES
“Music in our schools is rapidly declining, I don’t even think my major will be a major soon,” sophomore Marisa Maniglia said.
Maniglia is studying music education and is now participating in Miss America pageants, as of this year.
She is using her pagaent as a platform to advocate for music education.
“It started off as sort of a bucket list, like, ‘Haha, wouldn’t it be funny if I did a beauty pageant,’” Maniglia said. “My friend did them and I told her, ‘you can’t do pageants, you’re not a pageant girl, you’re not ditzy, you’re not stupid.’ And she was like, ‘Actually it’s the exact opposite of that.’”
Maniglia started looking into pagaents and her perception changed.
“They’re not ditzy in the slightest,” Maniglia said. “We have a bodybuilder who won a title. We have a pig farmer who won the prize pig in the Iowa State Fair. We have a clogger. Everybody does amazing things and raises so much money for their platform and their cause.”
The Miss America Organization is the largest scholarship program for women in the United States.
Rather than a traditional entrance fee, the organization asks its participants to raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network.
The contestants also must all have a charity they are advocating for and raise money for it if they win a title. Maniglia’s platform is the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Foundation.
“(NAMM) has three different tiers to it,” Maniglia said. “One is providing music opportunities to people of all ages. The other portion of that is providing groundbreaking music research to promote music advocacy, because that’s what legislatures look for, and the other is promoting music advocacy in schools.”
Maniglia started participating in pageants last October and has done three so far. Her fourth is on March 4.
So far, her highest placing is the first runner up for Miss Southeast Iowa.
“The first two were definitely trial runs. They were kind of disasters, which is to be expected,” Maniglia said. “You don’t really know what you’re doing. It’s stressful. I got told at my first one that for my talent I couldn’t have sheet music two hours before I was supposed to go on.”
Maniglia’s talent was a cello performance once and a tenor saxophone performance twice.
For her upcoming pageant, she is planning on playing “Play That Funky Music, White Boy” on the saxophone.
Besides the talent portion, the pageants include an interview, a question on stage, a lifestyle and fitness portion and the evening gown competition.
“The whole point of it in my mind is for scholarship money and to raise awareness for (the)platform,” Maniglia said.
She also noted that she’s been working for her platform in other ways. She has been trying to change an ordinance in Des Moines that keeps people under 21 out of venues that serve alcohol and playing live music after 9 p.m.
“I would like to keep going until I win a title for a year and do a lot of community service through that. As a student, I can’t really go into schools and say, ‘Hey, I want to come into your school and talk about music advocacy,’” Maniglia said. “That’s not something I can do as a normal person but if I were to have a title, I think I could use that to talk to legislators and be able to have all these opportunities and do all of these service projects and I’m really looking forward to that.”