By Danny Schrafel
A West Hollow Middle School eighth-grader has followed in her mother’s footsteps to explore the world of pageantry, and she’s using her recent victory in the Miss Teen New York International pageant as a springboard to reach out to teens who battle depression.
Dix Hills’ Rachel Goldsmith, 13, who was crowned Miss Teen New York International Oct. 4, 2014, is the proprietor of UWILLBOK.com, dedicated to giving struggling teens a safe place to share.
Goldsmith, a computer enthusiast, said she saw many teens on Tumblr share about going through difficult times with depression like she did, but what she did not see was one unified website dedicated to the cause. In line with her commitment as Miss Teen New York to dedicate her year of service to a cause, she launched the website several months ago.
“I want them to feel like they’re not alone… I want them to feel safe and that everything is going to be fine,” Goldsmith said.
Because it is such a delicate topic, she said, depression often gets swept under the rug and is not spoken of. Goldsmith said she hopes her efforts will help change that.
Her mother, Lidia Szczepanowski-Goldsmith, said taking a stand has benefitted her daughter greatly.
“It was very therapeutic for her,” she said.
In addition to her digital efforts, the daughter will tour the state as Miss Teen New York International. One of those stops included Huntington Town Hall on Feb. 10, where Huntington Councilwoman Susan Berland led the board in lauding her efforts.
Goldsmith said she’s been around pageants for most of her life – chalk it up to a case of “like mother, like daughter.”
Her mother jumped into the pageant world at age 41, when she was crowned Mrs. New York America in 2006. Szczepanowski-Goldsmith picked up a Mrs. New York International title in 2009, and was most recently crowned Mrs. Corporate America in 2013.
Szczepanowski-Goldsmith now serves as her daughter’s pageant coach and “mom-ager,” Goldsmith teases.
“You’ve helped me out in a lot of different ways,” the daughter said to her mother.
In addition to pageantry and all it entails, Goldsmith keeps more than a full plate at West Hollow. There, she’s enrolled in advanced courses and studio art, in which she nurtures a passion for drawing and painting. She one day hopes to be a special effects makeup artist with an emphasis on prosthetics.
She’s also pretty sharp with a bow and arrow, it turns out. Rachel first dabbled in archery for about two years during camp at the Usdan Center in Wheatley Heights. On Feb. 28, she’ll compete for a state title, but instead of a crown, she’ll be donning a quiver of arrows.