Saint Michael’s leaves major mark on Miss Vermont 2023 pageant
Yamuna Turco '25 takes the crown, while Emma Anderson '25 and Hannah Roque '21 of Admission office in top five
Former Miss Green Mountains Yamuna Turco `25 was crowned Miss Vermont 2023 on Sunday, April 16.
“I am still slightly in disbelief, but so thankful and excited!” Turco said of her first time competing at this level.
Turco is from Keeseville, NY, and studies psychology with a minor in political science at Saint Michael’s College. She is highly involved on campus, singing in one of the College’s club a cappella groups, the AcaBellas, as well as being a student leader in the Mobilization of Volunteer Efforts (MOVE) organization on campus. “The social justice and volunteer emphasis here at SMC was 100 percent the reason I applied here,” Turco said. “I want to be involved in the community I live in and interact with, and doing that is part of life here at SMC.”
Her volunteer efforts do not stop on Saint Michael’s campus, however, and her Community Service Initiative (CSI) for the Miss Vermont Organization is working as an advocate for childhood access to books. The volunteer aspect of the competition is originally what inspired Turco to compete. “Honestly, all I have learned working in MOVE has helped me learn the needs of the Burlington community – which is the foundation of community and volunteer work,” she said.
After being crowned Miss Vermont, Turco is preparing for a busy year. “There are about a million things to do!” she said. “I am currently further developing my CSI and planning out my year. I am beginning to write papers for finals, so finding the balance between school and my title is also being worked through!” Despite being incredibly busy following her coronation, Turco feels supported by the campus community while she finds that balance.
Fellow Saint Michael’s student Emma Anderson `25 placed 3rd runner up in the competition, singing her praises for Turco in an Instagram post, “I am beyond excited to have Miss Vermont walking around campus with me!” Hannah Roque `21, admissions counselor at Saint Michael’s and alumna, also competed in the competition on Sunday, placing 4th runner up. “There was a magical moment when all three of our names were called, and we realized that all the delegates from St. Mike’s made it into the top 5!” Roque said.
Anderson hails from Shelburne, VT and studies history and equity studies at Saint Michael’s. She competed Sunday as Miss Champlain Valley, though in 2021 she “was honored to hold the title of Miss Vermont’s Outstanding Teen, the little sister to Miss Vermont.” That title facilitated her breakthrough into the Miss America world where she learned about the scholarships and performance opportunities through the competition. “I felt supported by the school throughout my work and I am proud to be a representative of Saint Michael’s College as well as the Miss Vermont Organization,” she said.
“I am most proud of my Top 5 placement as well as receiving the ‘Be The Change’ award which recognized my work with Not A Luxury,” Anderson said. Additionally, Anderson is looking to incorporate the work she has been doing for her Community Service Initiative with Not A Luxury, an organization dedicated to eradicating period poverty, to Saint Michael’s campus.
“I have been brainstorming with members of my nonprofits board of directors to figure out the best ways to integrate our goals onto campus,” she said.
Roque’s introduction to the Miss America competitions began at just three weeks old. Her mom held the title of Miss Vermont in 1996, so she grew up around the organization. “I caught the bug early!” she said. Roque competed in Sunday’s competition as Miss Route 7, the road that connected her hometown of Middlebury, VT to Saint Michael’s College. “My favorite part of being Miss Route 7 was meeting and forming relationships with Vermonters all throughout the state, and being connected to because of the road we live on,” she said.
“I am so incredibly proud of my whole performance on Sunday – I feel like I gave everything I had on the stage! Overall, I am so proud of my growth in confidence from year to year,” Roque said. “As the only plus-size delegate that has competed in the last few years, I used to be very anxious of how people would perceive me on stage. This year, I was able to shut out the criticism and negativity, and really give it my all on stage!”
All three Saint Michael’s competitors had nothing but wonderful things to say about one another. “I was happy to be able to compete with Emma and Hannah. Seeing people I know, especially since SMC is such a small campus, helped build that sense of community and camaraderie once competition time came around,” Turco said. “They are both also incredibly talented young women, and being able to watch them from backstage was amazing.”
Beyond the talent she observed, Anderson valued values she saw, particularly from her own College. “Competing with other SMC students and alum made it so obvious that the school teaches values of loyalty and perseverance to the students,” Anderson said. “Additionally, it was amazing to have such a Purple Knight presence in the competition, as well as in the top 5!”
Roque said: “I’m four years older than both Yamuna and Emma, so we never overlapped as students, but it was amazing to be connected through the SMC community. I’m so lucky to know them both, and am excited to be there to support Yamuna and Emma however I can, both as a delegate and a member of the SMC community.”
Roque values the similarities between the Miss America Organization and the Saint Michael’s community’s commitment to service.
“One thing I have always loved about the Miss America Organization is the emphasis on service. When I was looking at colleges, I was looking for similar service-based values, and was so lucky to find St. Mike’s.”
“Our values of Service, Social Justice, and Education really align with the values of the Miss America Organization,” Roque continued. “Miss America is the biggest provider of scholarships for women in the United States, and is dedicated to empowering women to use their voices to advocate for causes that are important to them. Being a delegate in the Miss America Organization and a member of the St. Mike’s community are two things that I am immensely proud of, and it’s because of our common values of service and access to education!”