Morristown-Beard High School senior Vasiliki “Vikki” Amourgianos never imagine she would compete in a beauty pageant.
With all the glitz, glamour, and high pressure surrounding the competition, Amourgianos said it was not in her personality to do it.
However, the17-year-old is not one to turn down a self-imposed challenge, so she entered the 2021 Miss New Jersey Teen USA Pageant in August.
It was pressured-filled, to say the least, but she said she is a better person for going through the experience.
“I’m not the type of person to put myself in the spotlight,” said Amourgianos, who plays varsity volleyball for the Crimson. “I’m not the type of person to put myself in a dress and flaunt myself. But I wanted to challenge myself, so I went through the interview process. I made it through, and it molded me for the better.
“It was definitely nerve-wracking to put myself out there,” she continued. “It caught me off guard that so many girls looked so professional. As soon as they announced the top 15, there were girls (who did not make the cut) balling.”
Once Amourgianos began the arduous pageant preparation process, she did not ever consider turning back.
“We put so much money into it, all my family was there, that I had to do it,” the Morris Plains, N.J., resident recalled. “Just knowing they were there to support me, made it worth it.”
Although she was not among the top overall finalist, she did capture the honorable mention activewear award. It made the diligent work that the affable, effervescent young lady put in– including raising $1875 for the event–truly special.
More importantly, though, the recognition elicited a high-spirited reaction from Amourgianos’ mom, Zaffier.
“It was unbelievable, to be honest,” Amourgianos said of capturing the honor. “I didn’t expect it. My family jokingly says how unathletic I am. But when I won it, my mother let out this big scream.”
Futhermore, the pageant gave Amourgianos the platform to encourage girls to major in STEM (Science, Tech, Engineering, Math) disciplines and pursue careers in the fields.
The numbers are overwhelmingly in favor of men at the moment, as 28 percent of women comprise the STEM workforce, according to BestColleges.com. Plus, per a 2018 U.S. census data report, women in STEM make 19 percent less than their male counterparts, on average.
“Twenty nine percent of women make up STEM in professional careers,” she closely estimated. “And only three percent of women are CEOs. I wanted to bring that to the table, to tell girls that they don’t have to abide by stereotypes. I also want to be a positive role model to my younger sister, Evva,” a young, on-the-rise12-year-old soccer player.
As for Amorgianos, an excellent student, she said she plans on studying neuroscience in college and hopes to earn a Ph.D., deeply diving into brain function, children’s cancer research, and other areas.
Moreover, children’s cancer is a cause Amourgianos cares about dearly, as she has helped raise monies for St. Jud’s Children’s Hospital through the Teen Warriors nonprofit organization, which approximately 25 teens around Essex and Morris counties help operate, she noted. Amourgianos said they pitched in and raised around $50,000 through their Northern NJ walk.
For the near future, Amourgianos plans on competing in the Miss Greek Orthodox Youth of America (GOYA) pageant in October through her church. But she said this competition is more faith-based, and very important because of that.
That aside, the Astoria, Queens-born, Greek-American said competing in a pageant is something most adolescent girls should give a try at least once.
Nevertheless, Amourgianous said she works hard in all aspects of her existence: school, church, charity work, and family life, with her parents and Evva being her biggest fans.
Her dad, James, suffered a serious back injury over 13 years ago, when he fell off a moving flatbed truck while working. The accident left him paralyzed. He had to endure an eight-year period of surgeries and recovery, and had to relearn how to walk. But Amourgianous said he still lives with chronic pain, although he is doing better these days.
Seeing what her dad has endured has helped shape Amourgianous into a caring, empathetic person while making an undeniable impact on her entire life’s essence and future choices.
“Now, to see my dad so upset and in pain, it has helped me have compassion and patience for people,” said the 5-foot-1 spitfire who is hell-bent on making a positive difference in the world. “My parents are extremely proud of me. It’s really exciting to go through this (picking a college, pageants, ect.) with them. I want to make them happy.”
As long as she continues on her positive path, Amougianous wholeheartedly believes in a fruitful future for herself.
“I think I have a big future around me,” she said. “and I’ll leave a great legacy for my family and everyone around me.”
— Jerry Del Priore
(Photos: Vikki Amorgianos)