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People On The Move: Jackie Mercandetti
A REAL BEAUTY
Once in a while, you get the chance to meet someone whose spirit lights up a rooma person full of passion and inner beauty. Jackie Mercandetti fits that description without question. The 23-year-old Marlboro resident began dancing at the tender age of 3, went through the Marlboro school system, graduated from Colts Neck High School, and received her degree in musical theater and dance, with a minor in business and marketing, from Wagner College, Staten Island, NY, in 2007. Throughout her schooling, Jackie made sure she was always involved; whether it was performing in school productions, serving as secretary or president of her class, or volunteering for a great cause, this gem of a gal says she has stayed grounded and true to herself.
While at Wagner, the Alpha Delta Pi sorority sister volunteered at the Ronald McDonald House in Long Branch. Jackie says that the sisters would go visit the children and cook for them. Volunteering is just as rewarding for me as it is for the person I am helping along the wayits wonderful. We are so fortunate to be living in Marlboro. I have always felt its important to give back.
Mercandetti says her gift of music has also helped her make a difference. She performs Broadway show tunes and hosts bingo for the residents at the Marlboro branch of Sunrise Assisted Living. It warms my heart to see the smile I put on their faces. It makes their day! In addition, she has volunteered to be the choreographer at Saint Gabriels Church for their upcoming show, Guys and Dolls. Jackie says, The kids look up to me, as not only a teacher, but as a role model. Lending a hand at the Music Together Program (in Manalapan), speaking to high school students throughout the district, and talking to Girl Scouts troops in Marlboro about the importance of volunteering and giving back are just a few more ways this post-grad contributes to the community. This spring, the dedicated advocate will also be singing and participating at the American Cancer Societys Relay for Life.
Armed with her Actors Equity Card, earned while performing at the Surflight Theater in Long Beach Island last summer, Mercandetti is currently pursuing her acting career in Manhattan. Her hope is to obtain a role on Broadway. She also gained great experience in Atlantic City (in 2008) at the Tropicana, where the actress/singer/dancer took part in the production of 42nd Street for about 5 months! A chance meeting with a sorority sister backstage, while helping at a preliminary for the Miss New York Pageant, earned her a real opportunity. A judge approached her and asked why she wasnt competing. One thing led to another and Jackie did what she needed to do to enter and ultimately win the Talent Award at the 2009 Miss All-State Scholarship preliminary to the Miss New Jersey PageantMiss America line. Not surprisingly, she also took home an award for Community Service for our area! This is very new for me Most of the girls compete year after year in pageant after pageant.
Jackie says that although she is pursuing a career on Broadway, its been a bit more challenging. Fifteen shows have closed, and the Miss New Jersey Pageant has become another outlet where she can use her talents. This is the one and only time the Marlboro resident will be competing for the crown in New Jersey. The oldest you can be to hold the Miss America title is 25 years old. Twenty five girls have been selected from the preliminaries to compete for the Miss New Jersey title this June in Ocean City. The winner of the contest will then go on to the Miss America Pageant in Las Vegas. I am very prepared, the aspiring actress adds. I put 110% into everything that I do. The whole thing is very exciting!
The contest is very near and dear to Mercandettis heart. As a young child, Jackie remembers the tradition of watching the Miss America Pageant with her grandmother, who has since passed away. Part of me is doing this for her.
If you or someone you know wants to volunteer, go to www.volunteernj.org. For more information about the Miss New Jersey Pageant go to www.missnewjersey.net.
Buona Sera, Red Bank
The Notebook and Twilight
THREE PEOPLE YOU WOULD LIKE TO HAVE DINNER WITH
Barack Obama, Katie Stam (the current Miss America), and a Broadway director or casting agent
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