Pageant winner big on service

Alayah Nguyen

Alayah Nguyen is training not just to win the title of Miss Teen United States. The 16-year-old Indian Trail resident wants the opportunity to represent the country.

Alayah was crowned Miss Teen North Carolina United States, a national qualifier, on Jan. 20 at McGlohon Theater. It‘s one of many pageants she’s won over the years, including Jr. Teen and Teen Miss Mint Hill.

She’ll spend the next six months training for a pageant that considers interview skills, physical fitness and community service. She’s devoting a lot of preparation to the interview portion.

“They learn everything they need to know about the person who is going to be representing our country,” she said of the judges.

“She does a lot of community service, which fortunately not only helped her grow as a person but it’s also helped her with preparation for the pageant, because she’s been able to meet new people,” said Crystal Buchaluk, Alayah’s mother.

Growing up, Alayah enjoyed having big birthday parties. She was saddened to learn that not every child had the same opportunity to celebrate. That’s how she got involved with Bright Blessings, a Matthews-based charity that brings joy to low-income children. It has become her pageant platform.

“I love helping kids and seeing how I can change their day just by throwing them a simple birthday party,” Alayah said.

She’s worked on behalf of several other charities, such as Cindy’s Hope Chest, Ronald McDonald House and Common Heart. During her Mint Hill title reigns, she helped the Lions Club collect holiday gifts for children.

Alayah attends Porter Ridge High School, where she’s an honor student, cheerleader and member of Student Council, Beta Club, FFA, HOSA, Interact and National Honor Society.

She is dually enrolled at South Piedmont Community College, putting her on pace to earn an associate degree in May 2019. She plans to transfer to a four-year university to study sports medicine.

“Pageants are not just about wearing the crown,” Buchaluk said. “It’s actually about being able to do things in the community and make a difference. Her biggest accomplishment so far is she is going to build awareness for the organizations she’s helped in the community.”

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