SUNY New Paltz student Lily Seemann has recently been crowned Miss Ulster County. Seemann is a first-year psychology major who is a member of the New Paltz Cheer Team and a copy editor of The Oracle. The Ulster County title earned her a spot as a state finalist for Miss New York USA 2022. She will compete for the title of Miss New York USA at the Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino in Niagara Falls, New York this summer. The competition will take place from June 2 through June 4.
Out of over 2,000 applicants and contestants, being Miss Ulster County means Seemann is one of only 200 who made it as a state finalist. Contestants range from 18 to 28, and as she just turned 19 this year, Seemann is one of the youngest contestants to be a state finalist.
Making it this far and getting a chance to compete for Miss New York USA is an accomplishment in itself. The winner of Miss New York USA moves on to Miss USA, and then Miss Universe. The Miss USA system is one of the oldest pageant systems, established in 1952, and it is without a doubt one of the most prestigious. Some women work their entire lives for a chance to be a state finalist and compete for a state title. This was Seemann’s first year being old enough for Miss New York USA, and she made it to the state finals on her very first try.
She has been doing pageants since the fourth grade, and she considers them one of the greatest loves in her life.
“I started pageants because I experienced really heavy bullying as a kid for my looks and weight. I entered my school pageant because I wanted to feel confident,” she said. “I didn’t win, but I did get second place! From there on out, it was love at first sight for me.”
When asked why she is drawn to pageants, Seemann was adamant that pageantry is no longer just about what you look like. It’s about public speaking, confidence and most of all your resume, especially volunteer work.
“Pageants are no longer just about the beauty aspect, and pageants have evolved past just getting crowns for wearing expensive dresses. In fact, I’ve won almost all the pageants I’ve done with a $50 dress off of Amazon that me and my mom fixed up. I don’t have the money to drop thousands on a dress, so I learned to be crafty and do it my way,” Seemann shared with a laugh. “The concept of pageants has shifted more towards uplifting women. I’m paying for almost my entire college tuition through academic scholarships I received from pageantry.”
Having a New Paltz student represent Ulster County at such a big state pageant is a great achievement, and Seemann hopes to be a good representative of our county and school. Be sure to cheer her on this summer as she competes for the crown!
“At the end of the day, I just want to be a role model showing that pageantry has been reimagined. I am so grateful to have made it to Miss New York, and I am so excited to represent Ulster County!”