Molly Carson of Bennington will represent Vermont in the Miss International pageant this year.
Molly Carson of Bennington will represent Vermont in the Miss International pageant this year. (Photo courtesy of Madeline Clark)
BENNINGTON -- Molly Carson was recently named Miss Vermont International 2014.

But the 18-year-old Bennington resident, college student and Airman First Class with the Vermont Air National Guard sees the title not as a way to showcase her beauty, but as a way to raise money for a cause she's passionate about.

Carson's platform for the Miss International contest is the Wounded Warrior Project, which serves veterans and service members who "incurred a physical or mental injury, illness, or wound, co-incident to their military service on or after Sept. 11, 2001 and their families," according to www.woundedwarriorproject.org.

The cause is one she's supported since she started her college career and joining the ROTC and, more recently, the National Guard. She said a friend encouraged her to enter the Miss International contest as a way to support and raise awareness for WWP.

"I was a big supporter of the Wounded Warrior Project before I enlisted," Carson said in a phone interview Monday.

She described the Miss International pageant as a "beauty pageant that focuses on your platform."

Based on her resume, personal and professional background, community service, and dedication to promoting her chosen platform, Carson was selected from among dozens of applicants to represent Vermont in the Miss International pageant, to be held in Jacksonville, Fla., July 28-Aug. 3.

"They interviewed me and decided that they wanted me to represent Vermont" in the competition, said Carson, who was somewhat reluctant to talk about her new title.

It was her mother, Lucy Gardner Carson, who was actively promoting her daughter's title and work for WWP, and who called The Banner to see if an article could be written about her.

Molly Carson, however, was a bit more humble.

"I didn't want it to be a big deal. I don't want to be seen as a beauty queen," Carson said. "I want to focus on my platform."

As Miss Vermont International, Carson's duties include making personal appearances throughout the year at community parades, festivals, and special events where she will raise awareness and support for WWP.

According to the Miss International website, www.miss-international.us, "The International Pageant system promotes today's young women and their accomplishments. Being the premiere pageant for young women has given Miss International a chance to open doors for women everywhere."

Carson described Miss International as a fashion contest rather than a beauty pageant. Events in the contest include evening gown, interview suit and fitness wear.

"There will be a representative for almost every state and for some regions, such as Miss Rocky Mountain," Carson said.

Carson said she attended Mt. Greylock High School, skipped her senior year and got her GED in 2012, and now attends Clarkson University in Potsdam, N.Y. The college sophomore is pursuing a degree in biology and psychology with a minor in business but is currently taking a semester off to complete basic training for the National Guard. Carson plans to resume her degree studies at Clarkson in the fall.

If Carson were to win the Miss International competition, she would "have the opportunity to travel and to represent Wounded Warrior Project," she said.

In the meantime, Carson is already doing a bit of traveling -- this week to basic training in San Antonio, Texas, after which she will go to technical school in Mississippi. Then, during the summer, she will be working at the Air Force base in Burlington.

Send story ideas to Michelle Karas at mkaras@benningtonbanner.com. Follow her on Twitter @bannereditor.