Paige Perchinsky grew up watching pageants, but she never thought she’d be a state finalist in the 2020 Miss Maryland USA competition.
A Severna Park native and Severn School graduate, Perchinsky was a Division I rower for Temple University in Philadelphia studying business and marketing before she felt like she was being pulled in another direction.
“I was always an athlete, but I felt a calling with something new. Something was pulling me away from rowing,” said Perchinsky. “I saw a pageant video and grew up watching Miss Universe and thought I would try it out.”
During her journey as a contestant, Perchinsky decided to support a cause that she believes deserves added attention and support.
“I have chosen to spread awareness for the foster care system, as I feel a deep passion for those children and teens who have not yet found their forever home.”
Perchinsky has been volunteering with the Family & Youth Initiative (DCFYI) in Washington, D.C. to draw attention to issues within the foster care system, and the importance of mentorship. DCFYI is an organization that supports children in danger of aging out of the foster care system before they are adopted or find a home.
“A large percent of aged-out kids end up in rehab or jail because they didn't have the mentorship they needed,” said Perchinsky. “Think about the gift of family you were given and think about what you would have if you didn't grow up like that. As a society, it's on us to guide these kids.”
Perchinsky is passionate about ensuring foster children have the resources they need, because she attributes much of her success to her family and community, which always supported her.
“Severna Park is such a supportive community, and they gifted me with a community that made me who I am today, and I wanted to make sure that was available to everyone else,” said Perchinsky.
All Miss Maryland contestants have to find sponsors in their community to support their pageant journey and their cause. Perchinsky has been sponsored by Dr. Dave Sortisio of the Arnold Chiropractic Center, Stacey Cassidy of Savvy Consignment, Hartcorn Studios, Dr. Michelle Decere of the Pediatric Dental Specialists, Christie Sappington Coster and Greg Coster at The Big Bean, and Melissa Wright and Dr. Benjamin Wright of Wright Orthodontics. These sponsors will help Perchinsky through the pageant and raise awareness for her cause within the community.
Hartcorn Studios in Annapolis, which photographed Perchinsky’s headshots for the pageant, recently photographed a family that adopted two children from the foster care system. Perchinsky chose to work with this organization because of their family values and how closely their ideals aligned with her cause.
“I’m so excited and thankful. Severna Park is the most supportive community ever,” said Perchinsky. “Getting to know the community and giving back is the best part so far. I just want to raise awareness and give back.”
If Perchinsky advances to the Miss United States competition, she will use her platform to continue to work with the foster care system and within the community she loves.
“If I were to win, I would use my platform to raise awareness for kids who don't have a voice to speak up for themselves,” said Perchinsky. “They need help and guidance.”
Perchinsky hopes that she can inspire other women to follow their childhood dreams. Growing up watching Miss Universe and admiring all of the women in the pageants led Perchinsky to find her true calling. She intends to make the world a better place.
“If you told me last year I would be doing this, I wouldn’t have believed you,” said Perchinsky. “You can always improve yourself and follow your dreams. I made the decision to do that last year and I am so happy.”
The winner of the Miss Maryland pageant, held November 8-10, will move on to compete in the Miss United States competition.