Yamuna Turco ’25 to compete in Miss America

December 15, 2023
Cat Cutillo
Social Media and Community Content Specialist

A familiar face within the Saint Michael’s community will grace the stage alongside competitors for Miss America in January.

Yamuna Turco ’25, who was crowned Miss Vermont 2023, will compete for the Miss America 2024 title in Orlando, Florida right after the new year. The competition begins Jan. 6 and lasts until the finals on Jan. 14.  

“It’s huge. I’m kind of in disbelief. It comes and hits me in waves,” Turco said. “The fact that I have a one in fifty chance of being Miss America is insane to me.”

Courtesy Jon Adams Photography

Turco hails from Keeseville, NY, and is a double major in Psychology and Political Science at Saint Michael’s College. She sings in St. Mike’s a cappella group the AcaBellas, is a student leader for the College’s community service organization MOVE and is a member of the Drama Club. Turco also performed as the fairy godmother – a lead singing role – in the Saint Michael’s fall theater production of Cinderella this year. Growing up, she spent ten years as a classically trained ballet dancer.  

Although she’s no stranger to the stage, Turco had never competed in a pageant before she entered the Miss Vermont competition. She learned about it while she was having headshots taken by photographer, Jon Adams, who is the official state photographer for the Miss Vermont organization. Turco said she was drawn to the scholarship organization because it was not a beauty pageant and focused on leadership and entrepreneurship. 

“It’s so heavily involved in volunteering,” Turco said. “We have to have a service project that we participate in and advocate for.” 

Courtesy Yamuna Turco

Turco’s service initiative is called One Book, One Child and focuses on increasing access to diverse books and stories. As part of the initiative, she visits schools across the state and talks about literacy and reading. Since taking the title of Miss Vermont in April, she’s made more than 60 appearances and has donated more than 300 books. Turco said she’s hoping to reach 500 book donations before she heads to Orlando.  

“I grew up loving reading. My parents read to my sister and I a lot as kids,” Turco, who is a first generation American, said. “My mom was the first one to go to college in her family, so they emphasized the importance of reading. It builds connections between families.” 

Turco is quick to point out that St. Mike’s has had an unusually high number of people competing in the Miss Vermont organization. Three of the top five Miss Vermont 2023 winners are either current students or alumni. Turco said there is a good reason for this. 

“I think it’s the volunteering,” Turco said. “I think because St. Mike’s emphasizes it so heavily and St. Mike’s students are so involved with the community, it just naturally lends itself to a scholarship organization that encourages women to become educated and volunteer and be involved.”  

The Miss America competition will be held at Walt Disney Theater in January. Turco’s mom is traveling with her, and her father and sister will meet her in Orlando along with five of her friends, including students from Saint Michael’s.  

“I’ve never been to Disney, so I’m so excited,” Turco said. “This is how I’m going to Disney.” 

Turco performing as the fairy godmother in the fall production of Cinderella. (Courtesy Andy Duback Photography)

During the competition, Turco will participate in an eight-minute interview phase with the judges and compete in front of an audience in a preliminary competition where she will answer an on-stage question and model her chosen evening gown and fitness outfit. She will pitch how her initiative One Book, One Child could be a national service project. Turco said she is most excited for the talent component on January 11, when Turco will sing at the Hard Rock Dinner Café Theater. The finals will be broadcast live and take place on January 14 when the top 11 delegates will compete for the crown of Miss America. 

“I will never get to do this again,” Turco said. “This is a year of personal growth in a way that I can never describe. I don’t have the words for…If you never win, you still gain things from it. You gain interview practice, confidence on stage, the ability to perform, the ability to command a room and public speak. These are all incredible things that are transferrable life skills.” 

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