East Berne girl heads to pageant wearing personality on her sleeve

Veronica Stempel

EAST BERNE — Veronica Stempel and her mother, Kimberly, are confident in each other.

At 13, Veronica is taking self-defense classes together with her mother this month, while also practicing graceful posture and poses. She is learning the right steps after she was selected as a finalist in the Miss. Jr. Teen Albany/Poughkeepsie pageant to be held on April 27.

“So far, it’s a lot of fun,” Veronica said of her training. “I decided that I like to do different things with my life, and I just want to see where this will get me in the future.”

The Stempels received an invitation in the mail, sent to households with young girls, though Veronica had never competed in such a pageant. She said she’s competing against herself.

“I thought it’d be good for her,” Kimberly Stempel said of her daughter. “A lot of girls these days have low self-esteem, and she does too. I’m biased, I’m Mom, but I think she’s a pretty girl.”

The pageant consists of contestants modeling their outfits, one casual and one formal, and answering personal interview questions. Veronica said she will wear a softball uniform for her casual outfit, with white pants she has from her days playing Little League.

“The message will be like a sporty kind of girl,” said Veronica, who plays flute and was recently in the school musical. “I love doing sports. I love being outside, no matter what the condition is.” She hopes to play softball for Berne-Knox-Westerlo next year.

She’s still looking for a formal dress, but so far likes a pink one from her father’s colleague, which she called a Cinderella dress and described as having ruffles and beads on its bodice. She said she likes pink and sparkles.

“The sparkles really describe me, because I’m basically a girly-girl,” said Veronica. Asked how this fit with the casual outfit, Stempel replied, “I’m like a girl, I love sports — I just have a bunch different personalities.”

The winner in the Albany/Poughkeepsie competition competes nationally in Orlando, Fla. for $30,000 in prizes and awards. To qualify, Stempel had to participate in a personal interview.

“She’s got a bubbly personality,” Kimberly Stempel said. “She tries to make everybody happy.”

Veronica said she plans to work in medicine and health-care, as her mother, grandmother, aunt, and cousin have. She wants to be a registered nurse.

Kimberly Stempel works at the Altamont Rescue Squad and is a member of Helderberg Ambulance. She said, when Veronica was asked in her pre-screening interview who her role model was, she answered that it was her mother and said later that it was because she works so hard.

“I get people on their worst day,” Kimberly Stempel said. “My ultimate goal, when I get somebody in my ambulance, I try to make people laugh. I try to make them feel better.”

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