Miss N.C. Teen USA is Lauren Martz of Salisbury
By Katie Scarvey
Lauren Martz is not your average 17-year-old girl.
Her looks set her apart immediately ó she’s tall, blonde, gorgeous.
But it’s not simply her appearance. You don’t have to talk to Lauren long to get the sense that she’s not the sort to coast on her looks, although she is surely aware that they’ve opened some doors.
But you get the idea that when a door opens for Lauren, she’s going to stride confidently and gratefully through it, with her eyes on the next door.
The daughter of Steve and Savannah Martz of Salisbury, Lauren describes herself as a goal- and list-maker. But unlike a lot of teenagers (and adults, for that matter), she methodically works to achieve her goals.
One was to enter and win the Miss North Carolina Teen U.S.A. contest, part of the Miss Universe organization.
On Nov. 15, Lauren was crowned Miss North Carolina Teen U.S.A. for 2010.
She began entering pageants several years ago.
“I first did it for my self-esteem,” she explains. Since then, however, she says, it’s become an avenue for her future.
Before the Miss North Carolina Teen U.S.A. pageant, Lauren had won several pageants in South Carolina: she was Miss Peach Queen in Pelion and Gaffney’s Peach Queen. This past August, she was crowned Miss Teen Charlotte USA.
Her next competition will be Miss Teen USA, set to be held in the Bahamas next summer.
Although she’s still in high school ó a junior at Salisbury High ó Lauren expects to keep busy in her new regal role.
“My calendar and agenda are always booked,” she says.”I do at least one thing a week,” she says. “I want to do as many things as possible.”
Lauren funded her own pageant experience through working three jobs: hostessing at several restaurants and working to sell the exotic car experience at Supercar Sensation in Concord.
She’s given up her hostessing but is sticking with Supercar Sensation, which allows her to drive cars like Lamborghinis and Ferraris.
“It’s the coolest job ever,” she says.
The Miss North Carolina Teen pageant was held Nov. 14-15 at High Point Theater. The theme was “Jewel of the Nile,” and Lauren says that her goal was to stand out among the many beautiful contestants “without looking silly.
“I wore a glitzy gold dress with a shiny satin gold cape, hoping I did not look like a superhero from Egypt,” she says.
The second day began with the interview component ó which “will make or break you,” she says.
Contestants were told to relax and just converse. Lauren thought she was doing just that when one judge cut her off and reminded her that she was the one asking the questions.
That shook her confidence a bit, but Lauren dusted herself off, gave herself what she describes as a ” football locker room coach speech” and proceeded full steam ahead.
The finals were that evening, with all 54 contestants on stage for the opening number. Then, the 15 girls with the highest scores were called out, including Lauren.
Then it was time for the swimsuit competition, which Lauren enjoyed ó mainly because she’d put so much effort into preparing for it.
“I work out all the time,” she says. She gets up every morning at 5 and runs five miles outside, “even when it’s cold.” She also works out at the YMCA.
After the swimsuit portion, the field was narrowed to 10 for the evening gown competition. Lauren welcomed the opportunity to show off her gown, created by Florida designer Juan Carlos Pinera ó particularly since she’d worked three jobs to pay for it.
Among the five finalists, Lauren then faced another interview.
“My goal was to not make a YouTube-worthy statement,” she says ó a fairly modest goal for such an intelligent, articulate teen.
(Although she doesn’t elaborate, she’s probably alluding to Miss South Carolina’s embarrassing response during the Miss Teen USA pageant to a question about why a fifth of Americans can’t find the United States on a world map.)
When Lauren heard her name called as the winner, she was told that she had the classic pageant winner reaction, she says.
“I apparently made the OMG face, tears flowed, and hugs came from all directions.”
In the end, she says, the pageant experience “really isn’t about competing against anyone else” but about challenging yourself, she said.
Indeed, getting to the point where she could be so poised in front of a crowd was a proud moment for the girl who says that until fifth grade she was so shy she couldn’t go up to a restaurant counter and ask for a drink refill.
Lauren was crowned by a former Miss North Carolina and reigning Miss USA, Kristen Dalton.
Lauren is looking forward to competing in the Miss Teen USA pageant next summer and says that she’s considering entering the regular Miss North Carolina pageant at some point, which is open to women 18-24. The teen version is for girls under 19.
Of course Lauren still has to finish high school, but if you’re imagining that she’s coasting through with easy classes, you’d be wrong. She loves math and science and is taking calculus as a junior at Salisbury High School.
She’s also taking some online classes with the North Carolina School of Science and Math. She recently finished a computational chemistry class and is gearing up to take medicinal chemistry soon. Those online classes require that she spend some residential weekends at the school, so she does get actual contact with her teachers and other students there.
She plans to graduate from high school early ó in December of her senior year.
If she does win Miss Teen USA, she would get to live in New York City with Miss USA and Miss Universe.
“You work for Donald Trump if you win,” she says. “That’s pretty awesome.”
Lauren is probably more familiar with The Donald than most girls her age.
“I’ve read a few of his books,” she says. “I think he’s a go-getter, and some of that has rubbed off on me.I think he’s inspiring.”
Lauren is aware of the recent brouhaha concerning Miss California and some racy photos she sent her boyfriend.
“She maybe made some bad decisions,” Lauren says. “It’s a reminder to other girls ó the role model aspect is important.
“I certainly have role models in Salisbury,” she adds. She mentions Beth Dixon, a judge, and Carol Herndon, a Food Lion executive, as local leaders she looks up to.
Lauren has thought a great deal about her future.
“I have goals and lists,” she says. “I know exactly what I want.”
For winning the Miss NC Teen pageant, Lauren received various prizes, including $10,000 to use for cosmetic dentistry and a wardrobe allowance for appearances and for the upcoming Miss Teen USA pageant.
More important, though, she won a full four-year scholarship to High Point University. “That was my main reason for entering the pageant,” she says.
After college, she plans to go to medical school to study to be a neonatologist.
“I knew I wanted to be a doctor when I was little,” she says.
This past summer, she participated in Camp Med with Rowan Regional Medical Center. She did an internship in the hospital nursery, she says, and decided that was where she wanted to be.
Lauren is grateful that Bijoux has helped her out by letting her borrow some clothing, and that Merle Norman Day Spa has offered its resources to her.
As if she didn’t have enough to do, Lauren is writing a book, aimed at girls who are going into middle school.
She wants girls to know what to expect, she says, because she was unprepared for the social challenges of middle school.
“I realized that people were mean,” she says. She learned to deal with it, however, and now she wants to help other young girls deal with it.
If she ends up being crowned Miss Teen USA, she’ll have to learn how to deal with things that have nothing to do with mean girls ó but she’s looking forward to the chance.