Meet Jonét Nichelle! Nichelle was a New England Patriots Cheerleader and is Miss Rhode Island USA. She shares her story and what she advocates for!
Sam: Thank you for speaking with me. To start, how did you get involved with the New England Patriots?
Jonét Nichelle: Yeah for sure! I’m twenty-five years old and originally from Connecticut. About two and half years ago, I moved out to Rhode Island and started cheering for the New England Patriots. I’ve danced my whole life starting when I was two. Then went to a performing arts high school and danced competitively. In college, I was a full time student athlete in track and field and wasn’t able to dance as much.
So, as my senior year was coming to an end, my mom asked what I wanted to do next and suggested that I should tryout for professional cheerleading and get back into dancing. I tried out and didn’t make the team. However, it was probably for the best, since it was a lot of time and commitment and I wasn’t quite ready yet. But, I really enjoyed the audition process and decided to come back the next year and ended up making the team. I’ve also been a Patriots fan my whole life, so it was definitely a dream come true!
Sam: So, how did you then get involved with pageants?
Jonét Nichelle: The first time was actually when I was like ten months old. I obviously have no memory of that, just the pictures from that day. However, the first pageant memory I have was when I was five years old. I remember I had a lot of role models in Miss America and Miss Universe pageants. Then I watched one year in particular, and told my mom that I wanted to be Miss USA. And my mom was supportive and was like, “Okay, we can make that happen, lets do it!” So, I started competing in Connecticut, and I competed six times before I won. Then last year in October, I decided to give it another try and I ended up winning [Miss Rhode Island USA].
Sam: What responsibilities came after you won Miss Rhode Island USA?
Jonét Nichelle: We won on a Sunday, and the media tour started that Monday. I’m very involved as an advocate and survivor of domestic violence. Therefore, I decided I wanted a lot of my year to give back, and be very involved in that community. So, as Miss Rhode Island USA, I’ve been able to not only work in the community, but work with my platform (domestic violence victims) which has been very cool. Obviously Covid had some different plans, but a lot of this year was virtually done which was equally as cool, but kind of upsetting, since I wasn't able to be in the community as much as I wish I could've been.
Sam: You also use your platform for mental health, where did that begin?
Jonét Nichelle: My last job before my current job, I had been working at a mental health and substance abuse hospital. I worked the developmentally delayed unit, so I worked with individuals with mental health issues that also had special needs. Which was definitely very interesting. I enjoyed doing it, because it was such a rewarding feeling more than anything and then felt I could still be doing more.
So, I started exploring other options. And when I was in college I worked with an at-risk youth community, and it just so happened that one of the nurses at my job was telling me that there was a test coming up to be a correction officer at a juvenile detention center. Then I decided to take that route which is what I [also] currently do now.
Sam: That’s very cool. What's next and where can people follow you?
Jonét Nichelle: Yeah! Thank you, I will be heading to Tennessee and competing for Miss USA on November 1st through November 9th, 2020 on A&E Network channel FYI. My IG is at @jonet.nichelle and @missriusa.
Disclaimer: All Photos Provided Courtesy & Authorized by Jonét Nichelle. Potential minor edits for transcript's length, flow, grammatical/formatting.
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