‘Be confident … be yourself’

Local women, teens to vie for Miss Rhode Island honors at pageant


For Christella Merveille, the Miss Rhode Island USA pageant represents a second chance.

“Depression really takes away from your energy,” she said, “[and] when I was at URI, I didn’t do anything. There were fashion shows, hair shows, just so many things going on – and I just couldn’t, because of what I was facing at the time. I didn’t have the confidence.”

A few years later, Merveille is thriving. She graduated from URI with a degree in human development and family studies and a minor in psychology. She’s in graduate school, hoping to become an elementary school teacher. In her spare time, she’s a worship leader at her church, is training to become a minister, runs blogs on faith and mental health, has a YouTube channel and is working on launching a podcast. Currently, she works as a registered behavior technician, working with children with developmental disabilities.

“[Miss Rhode Island USA] is like getting a second chance to do the things I could have been doing a long time ago,” she said. “I’m a lot more outgoing. This is literally the perfect time, the perfect opportunity. Everything’s just working out perfectly. And I ’m big on faith, so I would say that it’s God’s plan for my life.”

Competing in pageants like this one, however, cost serious money. Merveille is just one of the contestants currently raising money on GoFundMe to cover the costs of wardrobe, choreography, hair and makeup and registration and participation fees for either Miss Rhode Island USA or Miss Teen Rhode Island USA. She is looking to raise $895 to cover the costs.

One Miss Teen Rhode Island USA contestant raising money is Dayanara Beltran, a 16-year-old from Warwick. She is looking to raise $1,000.

“I want to show girls that they can be confident in themselves because I get told a lot of bad things and it doesn’t bring me down,” she said. “I want to show girls that [you can] be yourself, and don’t be scared about what others think.”

Beltran, a student in the health occupations program at Toll Gate High School and the Warwick Area Career and Technical Center, hopes to one day be a medical lab technician after attending college.

In her spare time, Beltran likes to play volleyball, spend time with her four siblings and paint – in particular, she likes to paint people, the sun, and the moon. She said that her family, especially her mother, have been incredibly supportive throughout the experience so far, which has helped with the nerves of being a first-time contestant.

“I’ve been really nervous about it because it’s my first year,” she said. “I ’m shy with everything, but I feel good about it because I just stepped out of my comfort zone. I feel pretty confident about it.”

Another contestant fundraising is 16-year-old Providence native and Classical High School student Isabella James Indellicati, who is looking to raise $1,230.

A model with Wilhelmina Models, Indellicati signed with the agency after competing in her first pageant at age 13. She’s also heavily involved in activism – from advocating for mental health support on her middle school student council to co-founding a youth activism group, “Gen-Z: We Want To Live,” with MET School student Jaychele Nicole Schenk last summer.

The Miss Rhode Island USA competition is slated for Aug. 7-8 at the Vets in Providence. To learn more about the pageant, visit missrhodeislandusa.com.


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