URI student Allison Paganetti
is a model soldier
KINGSTON, R.I. -- September 11, 2003 -- When Allison Paganetti joined the Army Reserve Officers Training Program (ROTC) at the University of Rhode Island, her fellow cadets kidded her. Is it true, they asked, that you compete in beauty pageants?
"I pushed myself to the limit during physical training to avoid being stereotyped," says the sophomore who was crowned Miss U.S. Model this summer. "I think they were really surprised."
The 19-year-old exercise science major has always been athletic. She runs track and plays some field hockey. A former cheerleader, she now coaches a pre-teen varsity cheerleading league in her hometown of North Kingstown. The team won the state championship last year.
Shes competed in beauty pageants since sixth grade. "I got a pageant flyer in the mail," she recalls. "Since I was such a tomboy, I thought it would be fun to compete. When I placed in the finals, I decided to enter more contests." Paganetti has competed in numerous competitions including the Miss Pre-Teen Rhode Island , Miss Pre-Teen USA, Miss Teen Rhode Island (twice), Miss Providence, and the Miss Rhode Island Model contests.
Winning a national title took Paganetti and her 13-year-old sister Briana by surprise. Paganetti only entered the Miss U.S. Model contest so that she could accompany Briana to Tennessee so that she could compete for Miss Young Teen Model.
Paganettis decision to join ROTC was influenced by the terrorist attacks on 9/11.
"Many of my friends joined the Marines. I knew I needed to do something."
Another influence was her grandfathers, both of whom had served in the armed forces.
"The program was hard for me at first," she says. "I was completely lost. But then, everything came together."
She says her best friends are the other cadets. "Im learning to become a leader. I can better manage my time and myself since being in the program," says the woman who commutes to campus each day, attends classes, studies between them, coaches cheerleading, and scoops ice cream at the Newport Creamery in North Kingstown something she has done since she was 15.
Her older brothers, Dave and Rob, like to tease her when shes in her Army uniform. "I know they only do it because they are proud of me," she says.
She doubts she will be competing in more pageants or visiting many cities wearing her Miss U.S. Model crown next summer since she will have Army commitments.
Told that the cadets once visited Gettysburg, the model soldier recalls visiting that famous Civil War battleground with her family. "I remember re-enacting Picketts charge with my brothers," she says with a smile. "I was leading."