PELHAM — For 15-year-old Amber Faucher, a beauty pageant crown is only the stepping stone to grander things. With a recently signed modeling contract grasped firmly between her perfectly manicured finger tips and pageant winnings tucked safely in her college bank fund, the pretty 5-foot, 4-inch brunette is well on her way.

Since the fall of last year when Faucher entered her first pageant, Miss New Hampshire Teen USA, where she earned third runnerup, she has been working diligently toward her many goals.

“I plan to go to college at the University of New York for criminology after I graduate,” said Faucher. “A lot of the pageants are scholarship based so the money I win goes into my college fund.”

After her first pageant, Faucher went on to earn the title and a sparkling crystal crusted tiara in the Miss Petite Teen New Hampshire, third runnerup in Miss Petite Teen International and most recently, first runnerup and the title of Supreme Novice in the America’s Yankee Miss Royalty Pageant, held in Nashua on Oct. 29.

“She scored the highest points out of all three categories to earn the Supreme Novice title, best portfolio, best modeling and most photogenic,” said her mother, Charlene Faucher.

The most nerve-wracking and difficult part of a beauty pageant is the on-stage interview, according to Amber Faucher. Contestants are asked a series of questions and judged on their public speaking abilities. To prepare, Faucher watches other pageants ahead of time and studies a list of pageant questions provided by pageant organizers.

“They don’t always ask you questions from the list so you have to be a quick thinker,” she said. “But I’ve learned that the judges would rather you take a minute to think out a meaningful answer then quickly blurt out the first thing that comes to your mind.”

By competing in pageants, Faucher has gained self-confidence, new friendships and a broader understanding of other cultures from international contestants. She has also learned to understand and feel comfortable with herself, an attribute she uses in her daily life.

“I always try to just be myself, try my best and have fun in life,” she said. “It’s not about if you win, it’s about having fun while you’re doing it.”

But the most valuable lesson learned for this teen queen is growing appreciation for the loving support of her mother and father Charlene and Paul Faucher and her little sister Autumn.

“Without the support of my family I wouldn’t be where I am today,” said Faucher.

Last week, Faucher signed a contract with Exxcel, a modeling and talent agency based in New York, where she plans to do print work for local publications and act in commercials in her spare time.

Have a story idea? Contact Heidi Smith at 978-970-4653 or e-mail at hsmith@thevalleydispatch.com.