Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

VMA sophomore prepares to compete in the Miss Massachusetts USA pageant

Yufei Meng
Katrina Kusa, a sophomore VMA major at Emerson College, is preparing for the Miss Massachusetts USA pageant. (Yufei Meng/Beacon Staff)

Scrolling through TikTok in the car, Katrina Kusa saw a video about the Miss Massachusetts USA beauty pageant. She turned to her mom and asked if she thought she would have a shot. What started as a casual conversation became a submitted application, an acceptance, and five weeks to prepare for the March pageant. 

“I wanted to try a new experience,” Kusa, a visual media arts sophomore, said. “I wanted to raise an issue, stand for it with my voice. I wanted to talk about something I’m super passionate about, and that’s anti-bullying.”

The Miss Massachusetts USA pageant started in 1997 and is hosted annually by the Clemente Organization, an entertainment agency. The pageant is open to applicants ages 18 to 45. For Kusa, being 19 and one of the youngest contestants competing is a motivator for her. 

“We need more young voices to speak up and raise their voice out there into society,” Kusa said. “I wanted to take this opportunity to do that. I just want to be one of my young generation’s voices to speak about an issue in society and then inspire other young voices to do the same on an issue they are passionate about.” 

As Kusa described it, the application process was “straightforward.” She submitted a series of photographs, her email address, and her name. A couple of hours after submitting, she received an email from a representative of Miss Massachusetts USA asking her to attend a virtual information session. The second application asked Kusa to write about her hobbies, education, work experience, and achievements.

With a little over a month left to prepare, Kusa is focusing on practicing for the interview category, where she will be asked a question on stage by the judges. Kusa wrote 200 potential interview questions in her journal to prepare for that competition category. 

She is also preparing for the preliminary round of the competition on March 9. The contestants will participate in the swimwear and evening gown events, and be judged based on the outfit itself and the way it is presented.

“With the swimwear, they’re looking for confidence. They’re looking for how confident you feel in your body,” Kusa continued. “For evening gown, it’s more poise and more elegance, so a different walk completely.” 

The second round of the competition on March 10 involves the interview category, where contestants are asked about an issue they are passionate about and what they would do as the next Miss Massachusetts. The top five contestants advance to the finals round, and finalists participate in the on-stage interview question that is on a topic of the judges’ choosing. 

Kusa is preparing with her mentor, Maureen Grudzinski, whom she met on the set of a paranormal activity reality television show. Grudzinski and her husband sponsored Kusa’s evening gown and swimwear outfit through their businesses. As her mentor, Grudzinski advised Kusa on her application materials and her choice of attire, hair, and makeup. 

“I’ve learned Katrina is a completely different child. She’s an old soul,” Grudzinski said. “I don’t know of any other child who speaks several languages and can play the piano and can sing and dance and act and has the grade point average that she does. … She’s a great role model for anyone, not just children her age or young teens her age.” 

Kusa and Grudzinski have a shared cause of combating bullying, an issue Kusa based her application around for the pageant. Her motivation to get involved with the cause started when she was 10 years old and living in Florida. She took notice of the mistreatment of wildlife, specifically lizards, which prompted her to publish a book at the age of 12 titled “The Kingdom of the Lizards.”

“This book teaches the message about protecting and loving our world because, in the end, the world will love and protect you back,” Kusa said. “In this book, there’s this boy named Daniel, and he catches the lizard in his jar, and he does not take care of it very well. It teaches you that no matter where you come from, it is always best to treat each other equally and with kindness and not treat anybody poorly or with any disrespect.”

Kusa hopes to embody the spirit of her message by wearing brightly colored clothing to the pageant.

“I hope my persona will show that I still want to keep my childhood qualities even as I’m maturing and getting older,” Kusa said.

Participants of the pageant are also encouraged to note their future goals. Pulling from her experience in film, Kusa shared that she wants to create a documentary on domestic violence in Massachusetts by interviewing teenage victims who have experienced this. She also aims to use the resources accessible through Emerson to help others create documentaries. 

Grudzinski will attend the pageant in Burlington, Massachusetts, and looks forward to “watch[ing] her win.” As Kusa continues preparing for the event, she is carrying the excitement she felt when she first decided to apply. 

“I’m looking forward to creating new friendships, talking to different people, and getting new connections from around the local area of Boston or different areas in Massachusetts,” Kusa said. “I’m excited to see what this unforgettable experience will do.”

Leave a Comment
About the Contributor
Bridget Frawley, Staff Writer
Bridget Frawley (she/her) is a freshman journalism major from Jupiter, Florida. When she is not writing for the news section, she is a morning anchor for Mornings with George Knight of WERS 88.9 FM. She also loves reading, going on long walks, and thrifting.

Comments (0)

The Berkeley Beacon intends for this area to be used to foster healthy, thought-provoking discussion. We welcome strong opinions and criticism that are respectful and constructive. Comments are only posted once approved by a moderator and you have verified your email. All users are expected to adhere to our comment section policy. READ THE FULL POLICY HERE: https://berkeleybeacon.com/comments/
All Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *