The University of Connecticut’s Werth Institute, in conjunction with the Be Fearless Summit, hosted Miss Connecticut USA Amanda Torchia this past Thursday to kick off the 2022 UConn x BFS Summit. The Be Fearless Summit, founded by Alexa Curtis, is a program focused on college-aged students who are seeking to get out of their comfort zone and land their dream job. Connecticut native and host of the podcast “That’s Rly How It Is” Erin Mairson was able to ask Torchia about her experiences, how she has persevered through struggles and what advice she has for younger girls.
While Torchia is from Connecticut, her mother and father are both immigrants, the former from Afghanistan and the latter from Italy. Growing up she described this aspect of her life as one that brought her insecurity and frustration. She wanted to fit in the mold, despite being raised with a different culture and norm than most of her peers.
“It wasn’t until even a few years ago, very recently, where I started to feel comfortable in my own skin and I started to really open up and embrace the parts of me that I didn’t embrace when I was younger,” she said. “Becoming Miss Connecticut USA, that’s when I really started to embrace that part of me and that was actually the year that I won, when I fully decided to be proud of who I was.”
It was during these transformative years that Torchia truly embraced the concept of being fearless.
“I think being fearless is exactly what it is, fear less,” said Torchia. “You don’t have to necessarily have all the answers in the world and have everything figured out and go forth with every single opportunity, but you have to have this ability to fear less, to have this ability to be proud of who you are, to know what you bring to the table and if an opportunity comes your way and you feel in your heart that’s what you’re meant to do, then go for it.”
Torchia grew up in an environment where pageantry was not widely talked about or recognized. Her version of success through the pageantry world was far different than what the individuals living in her town deemed as success. Torchia described herself as essentially being the one to introduce pageantry to her friend circle, and possibly her overall community. She used people’s doubts and judgements as fuel for her purpose and passion.
“At the end of the day if I am happy and I am doing what I love, and if the people around me know my true purpose and know who I am at my heart, then that’s all that matters,” she said.
While Torchia lives with confidence now, it wasn’t always that way during her younger years. There were moments where she would eat lunch in the classroom to avoid hearing her peer’s comments about ethnic food and what they deemed to be an appropriate lunch. If Torchia could go back and tell her younger self one thing, it would be to stick with it, and push those who are trying to define you to the side.
Moments of judgment are experienced within the modeling world as well. Mairson touched upon if Torchia ever feels that judges and individuals within the pageantry industry view contestants as just a pretty face, and how girls can showcase how much more they bring to the table than simply looks.
“You have to believe that you yourself are worthy and that you have so much more to offer than the outside appearance,” she said. “You have to feel that you have more to offer, and when you feel that way you will lead by example.”
Currently Torchia works closely with young children in education, specifically preschoolers and kindergartners. She began Educate to Create, a program that works with students to break barriers and use the power of education to achieve their goals. To aid poverty-stricken communities, Torchia provides and fundraises for learning materials and supplies.
The main UConn x Be Fearless Summit event will be hosted on Saturday, February 26 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Werth Tower Idea Lab. Speakers will include Chrissy Tracey, Illana Raia, Batouly Camara and more. If you would like to attend, please make sure to register online via Eventbrite.