On June 28th, Acacia Courtney was crowned Miss Connecticut. Her personal platform is “The Monday Campaigns: A Guide to a Healthier World,” a platform we’re completely behind. Last week, Acacia stopped by Monday Campaigns HQ to answer questions, take some photos, and meet the staff.
Meatless Monday: First, congratulations on a winning the Miss Connecticut Crown. How did it feel, what was going through your head at the time?
Acacia Courtney: Thank you! It was a very surreal moment. This was my fourth year competing at the state level in the Miss America Organization, and even though I felt that I was ready to do the job of Miss Connecticut, I didn’t know what was going to happen. When I heard my name called, it was a beautiful instant full of shock, joy, and an overwhelming sense of excitement and gratitude. It felt very surreal, and yet, at the same time it also felt right. I am someone who has grown up through the Miss America Organization, and I am beyond honored to have the chance to serve my state.
MM: Calling the Miss Connecticut Scholarship Program a “pageant” isn’t really enough is it? It’s more: for one, it’s a scholarship program and it’s also a forum for you to give voice to the issues (regional or global) that concern you. Beyond the ‘pageantry’, can you tell us a bit about what the Miss Connecticut Scholarship Program is all about?
AC: While we only see the contestants onstage during the final night of competition, so much of what the Miss America Organization truly is actually takes place in the months leading up to the pageant. The organization has labeled the four points of the crown as service, scholarship, success, and style, and we all strive to embody these characteristics every day. Each contestant has a personal platform that she promotes and advocates for, and each contestant is very involved in her community. The program expects a high level of academic achievement, and in turn makes available more than $45 million in scholarships each year. In addition, contestants work on a talent that they perform. All of the women that compete for the job of Miss Connecticut and Miss America are well-rounded role models who make a difference in the world around them.
The Miss Connecticut Scholarship Program has given me so much as a contestant, and as a young woman determined to succeed in the “real world.” The connections I have made, relationships I have formed, and opportunities I have been given have helped prepare me for college, internships, and a professional career.
MM: Why did you choose to run on “The Monday Campaigns: A Guide to a Healthier World”? And can you tell us your goal for Meatless Monday and your goal for Move It Monday?
AC: I chose to promote “The Monday Campaigns: A Guide to a Healthier World” as my platform because I want to be a part of changing the way we approach the concept of health. I am very aware of the obesity epidemic in the United States and have observed that there is an extreme disconnect between the farm and the plate—eating has become mindless and routine. I personally do not eat meat and am very active, but I love the Monday Campaigns because they advocate for small, easy-to-adopt changes that can make it easier for people to implement in their everyday lives.
My top goal for Meatless Monday right now is to create a citywide Meatless Monday resolution in both Hartford and New Haven, two of Connecticut’s biggest cities. I have followed the development of a similar initiative in Philadelphia, PA, and I believe that Meatless Monday could be incredibly successful here in CT. I am excited to see what we can do and how I might leave this as one of my legacies as Miss Connecticut 2014.
For Move It Monday, I am working on planning various fundraising events throughout the state of Connecticut that will encourage exercise and physical activity. Zumba fundraisers, walks, and runs all have provided an opportunity to raise funds and to spread the word about Move It Monday. I also understand the power of social media in creating a weekly Monday challenge for followers and potential followers. I am very passionate about sharing Meatless Monday and Move It Monday, and the tremendous benefits of both campaigns.
MM: Can you share your favorite recipe for a Meatless Monday dish?
AC: My mom makes an unbelievable kale and bean soup! It’s just a tablespoon of olive oil, chopped garlic, onion, kale, and tomatoes, vegetable stock, navy beans, and some seasoning. It’s easy, filling, healthy, and vegan!
MM: How do you “move it” on Mondays?
AC: Dancing is my favorite way to move it on Mondays! I am a classically trained ballerina (ballet en pointe will be my talent for Miss America), but I also study jazz, musical theater, and international ballroom. I always suggest dance classes to those looking for ways to incorporate Move It Monday into their daily lifestyle because it is so fun that it often doesn’t feel like exercise. Dancing is a great way to express yourself, meet new people, and stay fit and healthy.
MM: Where do you see yourself in five years?
AC: My dream job is to be a sports broadcaster specializing in horse racing. In five years I see myself working for NBC Sports Network as a broadcaster and trackside analyst in the horse racing industry. In addition, I also plan to continue promoting Meatless Monday and Move It Monday as a speaker and ambassador, sharing my commitment to the creation of a healthier world.