Keana-Grace Danier hopes to land plenty of job interviews once she graduates from the Manning School of Business this spring with a degree in business administration.
While it’s only natural to feel some nerves during a big interview, Danier found a pretty unique way to prepare for the scrutiny: by competing in the 2017 Miss Massachusetts USA pageant in November at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium.
The two-day event featured a field of 107 young women vying for the chance to represent Massachusetts at the 2017 Miss USA competition. While Danier didn’t make the cut for the final 15, she enjoyed the experience so much that she’s already planning to compete in the 2018 contest.
“I was upset for about 10 minutes after not making it, but I was so happy to be part of something like that,” says Danier, whose concentrations are in marketing and management. “I definitely learned a lot about myself. I gained so much confidence and motivation and drive, and I’m grateful for that.”
Danier says the most challenging aspect of the competition was finding time to prepare. In addition to her studies, she works three days a week as an intern at Kforce, a staffing services firm in Burlington. Danier also works weekends as a sales associate at Orangetheory Fitness in Burlington.
“It was a lot to balance, but it made me realize I have the willpower to do more in the future,” says Danier, who spent two months working with a pageant coach, 2015 Miss Massachusetts Polikseni Manxhari, to prepare for the competition, which included interview, swimsuit and evening gown competitions.
“My coach definitely helped prepare me for being under the spotlight and under pressure,” says Danier, who can see the experience helping her in a future career in medical device sales. “Going into sales or management, I’m going to need that drive and confidence to be able to talk to people and negotiate. I’m going to need that motivation to make a sale.”
As a transfer student from Middlesex Community College, Danier says she made the right choice to attend UMass Lowell, where she was particularly inspired by lecturers Ralph Jordan and Michael Beers.
“I felt like this is where I needed to be. I found myself here,” says Danier, who joined the Manning School’s Dean’s Student Leadership Council and is also a member of the Haitian American Student Association and Students of Caribbean Ancestry.
Looking ahead to her next pageant, Danier realizes there are those who feel the competitions place too much emphasis on physical appearance over personal substance. Going through the experience erased many of those stereotypes in Danier’s mind.
“Being around all the girls, they were very down-to-earth. They were very beautiful, but also very educated,” Danier says. “I enjoyed learning so many different things from all of them. I have a new appreciation for the event.”
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