An Egg Harbor City girl who grew up with the same dreams as a million other girls her age had the unique opportunity of putting the exclamation point on her career by living out that dream.
Lindsey Petrosh competed in the Miss America pageant on Saturday night, Jan. 12, and although she didn’t win, she had plenty to take away from the experience.
“It was a once in a lifetime experience that trumps everything I’ve ever done,” Petrosh said this week. “I grew up with the Miss America pageant in my backyard. Miss America has always been a role model to me.”
Petrosh “never missed a pageant” on TV, but competing in it was not something she necessarily imagined she would ever done. In fact, although she has been a singer since she was seven years old, Petrosh didn’t compete in a pageant at all until she was 16.
“It happened by chance,” Petrosh said. “I won a talent show in Atlantic County for my age division, and the prize was entry into the Miss New Jersey Teen pageant,” Petrosh said. “I ended up winning and went on to a national competition.”
She didn’t win on the national stage, nor did she expect to. However, after that, Petrosh wasn’t holding back.
Petrosh always loved competition. She played softball and volleyball, and was on three traveling basketball teams. She was always a singer; she sang the national anthem for every sporting event at St. Joseph’s in Hammonton, even her own. But Petrosh always looked up to role models, and the youngest of four siblings saw this as her opportunity to become a role model herself.
Once she found herself competing on the national stage, competing in pageants became her life.
She won Miss Atlantic County, and then Miss New Jersey 2012, and she was off to live the dream she always had growing up.
In Las Vegas, which has hosted the pageant since 2006.
“There’s nothing like the Miss America pageant at Boardwalk Hall,” Petrosh said. “But I practiced on the stage at Boardwalk Hall, and it was a great adrenaline rush.”
Las Vegas must have felt like home for Petrosh, too, as 60 people from Egg Harbor City attended the pageant to cheer her on.
“It was fun to experience a new city,” said Petrosh, who spent 10 days there. “It was a vacation as well as a competition, but it would’ve been easier if I was home. I had to bring 10 suitcases with me.”
She spent a lot of time rehearsing and filming for Good Morning America, as well as commercials for Skechers, Amway and other groups.
She also described an outpour of support from people within the county and in the area in general.
“There were so many people coming out of the woodwork,” Petrosh said. “It was so nice.”
The outpour and trip to Las Vegas validated Petrosh’s hard work. She participated in talent training in New York City once a week, and underwent interview training across the state.
Petrosh described the competition itself as an “emotional rollercoaster.”
“You’re competing for one of the most competitive titles in the world,” Petrosh said. “The girls are all going through the same thing and having the same experiences.
“Then reality hits, and you realize with different judges, it would probably be a different (winner) each time. You realize people have different opinions about things.”
However, since her appearance, Petrosh says she’s experienced more fame than ever before.
“I’m getting more calls than ever, to come visit schools,” Petrosh said. “I have so many messages. The next six months are going to be hectic.”
And then, it will be all over for Petrosh in the pageant world.
“I went to the pageant of all pageants and I think I’m going to end it there,” said Petrosh, who is working on a graduate degree in higher education at Rowan University. “I want to work on a college campus.”
The 24-year-old has been around adults her entire life. Her sister is 13 years older than she is, and her brother is 20 years older. It forced Petrosh to grow up fast, she said,and people often comment on how mature she is, as well as how she carries herself.
Over the past year, she called the support from local residents and fellow college students “overwhelming.” No one can believe the 2007 St. Joe graduate who went to school at St. Nick’s in Egg Harbor City is Miss New Jersey.
Her siblings enjoyed the experience. Her sister-in-law remarks that Lindsey Petrosh is such a good role model.
In a few years, these memories will be a thing of the past. Petrosh may be working with college students, helping guide them down their chosen path in life.
Many of these students may never know what the last 12 months have meant to Petrosh.
To them, she’ll be a role model in a whole new way.