Published in the February 11, 2016 edition
By BOB TUROSZ
NORTH READING – Since she graduated from North Reading High School in 2014, the last 18 months have been a blur of service and opportunity for Sabrina Ponte, especially now that her one-year reign as the youngest crowned Miss Boston in history is coming to an end.
Crowned Miss Boston in February 2015, Ponte will crown her successor on Feb. 21. But the last 12 months have been a period of personal growth and excitement for the UMass Lowell sophomore.
Ponte has always been interested in music and attended the New England Conservatory’s pre-college program while still in high school. After graduation she went to Hofstra University to major in music business but came home to UMass Lowell in order to compete for the UMass Boston crown.
2015-16 has been Ponte’s Year of Service as Miss Boston, 12 months full of community service and charitable events for veterans and children’s organizations in a busy schedule that includes parades and personal appearances as well as her UMass classes. She also found time to volunteer at the MSPCA Methuen Shelter, the Lowell Humane Society and be a Boston Bruins Ice Girl.
Ponte has done a lot of work for Operation Comfort Warrior, a program dedicated to meeting the needs of wounded, injured or ill military personnel by providing them with comfort items not usually supplied by the government.
She put her talent for opera to good use in the talent portion of the Miss Boston competition and has been called on to sing the national anthem at many events such as Memorial Day, Flag Day and benefit runs for veterans. She’s also worked extensively with the MSPCA and the Children’s Miracle Network.
Because she was crowned UMass Boston, she’s now an ambassador for the Children’s Miracle Network. As someone who’s very interested in music therapy she’s been able to shadow a music therapist who helped ease the anxieties of children facing surgery.
“I was mind blown to be able to talk to the kids before they went in for surgery and very surprised at how the music helps to relieve their anxiety,” she said. Ponte has also visited children in the neonatal units and found it to be a touching experience.
She’s held goats and worked with other livestock at the Heifer International Farm in Rutland. Heifer International is a charitable organization working to end hunger and poverty around the world by providing livestock and training to struggling communities in the developing world.
The program helps families in poor countries where, for example, one goat can change the life of an entire family in a positive way. “They give an animal to a family and then follow up with them, changing lives and improving their living standard.
“It’s amazing, they’re not commercialized at all. I walked into a field and they handed me a goat! They’re so amazing,” she said.
“I’ve been able to so many things service-wise and I’ve been introduced to so many styles of life,” she said. Ponte and her family visited a community harvest farm in New Bedford that grows vegetables to be donated to Food Pantries, enabling the clients to have fresh produce in addition to staples like mac and cheese.
Her Miss Boston crown has opened up a whole new world of service to Sabrina. “And my family has been so supportive, they’ve come to many of the events with me.”
“ I did not realize how much my life was going to change,” she said. As Miss Boston, she’s marched with Boston Mayor Marty Walsh in the St. Patrick’s Day and other parades and competed in the Miss Massachusetts pageant, something she intends to do again in June.
In terms of sheer enjoyment, not much tops her experience as a Bruins Ice Girl, which gets her in to all the games. But that also involves a lot of charitable work for the Bruins Foundation, often with children. For instance, her latest event involved a trip with Bruins players to the Boston Public Schools, where she participated in street hockey shootouts with the kids. “It’s fun and worthwhile, I was even able to teach them how to hold a stick and shoot.”
Ponte’s experiences belie the negative stereotypes of pageants. Her experience shows it can be a worthwhile way of giving back to the community. She has many sponsors such as Vera Bradley, Clinique, Kind Bars and Polar Water to name a few. The Miss Massachusetts and Miss America organization stresses fitness and that girls be “the best version of yourself,” she said. “No eating disorders, no image pressure; well rounded girls who are intelligent and do community service,” she said.
Next year, Ponte will attend the Berklee College of Music in Boston where she will major in music business and continue her opera studies with her coach from the New England Conservatory. She currently works for iHeart Media as well, owners of iHeart Radio, an internet radio platform that owns Kiss 108, Jammin’ 94.5 and other stations.
After graduation, she’s hoping to stay in the music business. “I love music, I’ve been doing some work with music therapy for children. I’m not sure in which direction I want to go but I know it’s going to be music related.”