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The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Sapini takes home Miss Massachusetts

Courtesy of Melissa Sapini
Sapini stops to take selfies with onlookers of the Boston St. Patrick’s Day parade.

North Attleboro native and Suffolk University junior Melissa Sapini just joined the long line of women who have won the title of Miss Massachusetts.

Sapini is just beginning her journey, which will come to a head when she competes in the Miss USA pageant this August for a chance to compete for the Miss Universe title. In the meantime, the broadcast journalism major is making her way around Boston and the state of Massachusetts, representing all that has influenced her journey to the pageant stage.

Sapini’s reign as Miss Massachusetts began this March, with her being crowned after going through the pageant circuit. Sapini’s aspiration of becoming Miss Universe was inspired by the 2019 Miss Universe winner, Zozibini Tunzi of South Africa. She was cleaning with her mom, but stopped to watch the entirety of the televised pageant. By the time Tunzi had been crowned at the end of the night, Sapini had a new dream.

“I remember my mom and I looking at each other at the same time and me telling her, ‘I could do that.’ I had a background of modeling and I had done things within the entertainment industry. It was one of those ‘Are you thinking what I’m thinking’ moments,” said Sapini.

From that moment forward, Sapini joined the pageant circuit with the hopes of progressing forward to the Miss Universe title. In her first competition, she placed in the Top 15 of Miss Teen Massachusetts. In her first year at Suffolk, Sapini was first runner-up in Miss Teen Massachusetts. Now, in her junior year, she secured the Miss Massachusetts title.

The size of the stage was a new experience for Sapini when she decided to pursue pageantry, but it never scared her. Sapini’s previous experience in the entertainment industry since she was young made her transition feel easy. Having worked in modeling and acting up until this point, she was ready to take on a pageant stage.

“I was used to it. I was used to walking into a room of directors of casting agents and having to introduce myself, let them know why I’m here, and maybe even read off a script,” said Sapini.

Sapini’s modeling and acting career started before she came to Suffolk and gave her a taste of what the entertainment industry had to offer. With a modeling career dating back to when she was six to her acting career taking off in high school, she’s always felt the industry was meant for her.

“My mom, when she lived in Haiti, was a model and a television commercial actress. I feel like it’s something that’s always been in my blood. It’s always something that is comfortable and I‘m passionate about,” said Sapini.

Sapini has continued her modeling journey while at Suffolk, doing modeling shoots for different companies and websites all while continuing her education.

The Miss Massachusetts title has brought a new kind of platform to Sapini, which she hopes to use to bring awareness to underprivileged communities across the state of Massachusetts. Sapini’s background as a Haitian-American raised by immigrants has brought her a greater sense of awareness to the discrepancies in reading materials across the state. As a part of her pageant interview, Sapini shared a story about assisting her grandmother in learning how to read and write.

“I’ll never forget walking into the kitchen and seeing and understanding that my grandma didn’t even know how to write her own name. Seeing her hands shaking just trying to spell on a sheet of paper honestly broke my heart. At seven, I don’t even know how I understood the severity of the situation. I remember taking it upon myself to bring homework and in-class assignments home from school and we would do them together,” said Sapini.

With her newfound platform and influence as Miss Massachusetts, Sapini has made a commitment to advocate for high-quality reading materials and education within Massachusetts. Sapini hopes to shed light on the underserved parts of Massachusetts that don’t yet have these materials, working to solve this problem across the state.

“If my grandma as a little girl in Haiti had been given the opportunity to be given a fair education, or any high quality or diverse reading materials, I feel like her life could have been different,” said Sapini.

The perseverance of her grandmother and mother has made them a huge inspiration for Sapini during this process. Both of these role models came to the U.S. and sought citizenship and the American dream, something Sapini feels like she is carrying through her own journey by winning Miss Massachusetts.

“My mom came to this country when she was 22 looking for the American dream, and I seriously feel that me being crowned last Sunday night was a huge example of that,” said Sapini.

Sapini has been making strides in hopes of working in broadcast journalism through her time at Suffolk. She currently works with New England Sports Network on the show Dirty Water Media, where she’s able to connect with people across Massachusetts.

“Whether I’m interviewing a Celtics partner or a congressman, I think it’s so special about being from Massachusetts and being able to connect with people from our state,” said Sapini.

She has had the position with NESN since her second semester at Suffolk, a true testament to all she was able to learn from the very start of her time with the journalism department and her involvement at Studio 73.

“I really am grateful that Suffolk offers such amazing staff members that want to see you excel in whatever field you’re pursuing, and that we have a news studio like this that’s hands-on,” said Sapini.

The title of Miss Massachusetts has been getting Sapini even closer to her goals of working closely with major communities across the state. Boston’s sports scene is something she has already been able to be involved with since obtaining the title, making an appearance with the New England Patriots Cheerleaders. 

“We’re so big on our sports teams, I’m really looking forward to making an appearance at the Celtics, with the Red Sox hopefully as the first pitch, and obviously with the Patriots. It honestly doesn’t get more Massachusetts than that,” said Sapini.

On a local scale, Sapini made an appearance in Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade and has since made trips back to her hometown to be a guest reader in elementary school classes. 

Sapini has also been active in the Best Buddies community, an organization that encourages the integration of individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities, since her time at North Attleboro High. The organization is also in partnership with the Miss Massachusetts, Miss USA and Miss Universe organizations. She is also committed to working with the local nonprofit Storytime Crafts, an organization committed to improving literacy journeys across Massachusetts.

“You’re not just from Massachusetts, you can be Haitian, you can be from Boston, you can be a college student at Suffolk University, or representing your hometown of North Attleboro. It’s amazing that I can represent important people and places that have been different walks of my life,” said Sapini.

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About the Contributor
Julia Capraro
Julia Capraro, Editor-at-Large | she/her
Julia is a sophomore broadcast journalism and psychology major from Canton, Massachusetts. In addition to writing for the Journal, she is President of Suffolk Visual Arts Club. She loves cooking, crochet and reading in her free time.

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