Jacqueline Algarra more frequently dons a pair of scrubs than a big colorful dress anymore, but that doesn't mean she has retired from the pageant circuit. Still competing today, the junior nursing major is currently focused on following in her mother’s footsteps to become a healthcare professional.
Entering her first pageant in the fourth grade, Algarra used the competitions as a way to break out of her shell—a way to combat her shy personality. After watching Sandra Bullock star in Miss Congeniality, Algarra knew that she wanted to start training and competing.
“It all started with Miss Congeniality when I was little,” Algarra admitted. “The movie made me interested in entering a pageant. I was very shy, so my first pageant brought me right out of that mindset. I loved every minute of it. I always kept up with Miss America and Miss USA competitions, and even attended Miss NJ in Atlantic City in 2005. I was in awe of each girl’s platform, talent, and love for their community service.”
Still competing today, Algarra finds time for competitions between her schoolwork. She recently competed in Miss NJ USA, Miss American Coed (MAC), and Miss Burlington County—a Miss America preliminary event. She is the current titleholder of Miss Pennsylvania American Coed 2015, representing Holy Family University. She also placed in the top 15 at MAC Nationals in Orlando out of 70 women. If that wasn’t enough, she also guest judges certain competitions. Her success landed her an interview with Fox 29s Good Day Philadelphia in December.
Algarra’s platform is The National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), a group that she has a particular soft spot for, as someone who overcame her own eating disorder.
“I suffered with it through high school,” Algarra said. “At first, I always kept it to myself, but through the pageants, I’ve been able to help others through my story. Each year I attend the NEDA walk in Philadelphia and raise money for the organization. Eating disorders are the mental illness with the highest mortality rate of all mental disorders. Through my platform and through being a nurse, I hope to help all 10 million women and one million men suffering across the United States.”
When she isn’t rehearsing for a pageant, Algarra is preparing for a career in nursing. Following her mother’s lead, Algarra knew nursing was the right major for her once she arrived at Holy Family University.
“I’m a care giver at heart,” Algarra said. “I have always had an interest in health, and through volunteering at my local hospital, I knew it was the right path for me. My mom is a nurse, so she is able to give me the support I need in this tough but rewarding profession. I’ve watched her save lives and make so many people happy.”
Though she is open to any opportunities that her nursing degree will present her, Algarra gravitates towards treating the geriatric population.
“I have such a soft spot for the elderly,” she said. “They have a lot of knowledge and so many stories to tell—all you have to do is listen. The baby boomer population is getting older now and people are living longer than ever. We need more skilled personnel to take care of this population that can specialize in their diseases and body processes. My goal is to get my masters and become a Gerontological Nurse Practitioner.”