In February, the 19-year-old township resident was crowned Miss New Jersey International. Now, she will go on to compete for the title of Miss International 2009 during the final contest in Chicago in July.
"It's an opportunity of a lifetime," Martin said. "I'm so proud to be part of system that looks beyond physical beauty and focuses on young women's achievements and their charitable involvements. I'm just ecstatic."
Martin, a pre-med student at Boston College, always has had an interest in pageants.
"I always got things in the mail, and I always put them off," she said. "One day I said, "Life is too short. Just do it. It can only be a wonderful experience, give you confidence, help you with your interview skills and allow you to make new friends.' It's done nothing but help me. It's opened so many doors."
The daughter of Maureen and Herbert Martin of Old Bridge, Martin was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and moved to Old Bridge when she was 6. She attended St. Thomas the Apostle School in Old Bridge and Bishop George Ahr High School in Edison. At 16, she participated in the National American Miss competition.
When she heard about the Miss International pageant she decided to give it a try.
She submitted an application and participated in a phone interview. As a result, Martin was selected to represent the state in the Miss International competition, which is open to single women 19 to 29.
In the national pageant, Martin will compete in four categories — evening gown, fitness wear, fun fashion and an interview.
The interview, which is 40 percent of the overall score, is about contestants' platforms — charitable organizations they plant to promote for the coming year.
Martin's charity is the Make-a-Wish Foundation, which grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses.
Martin, who has volunteered at the YMCA and John F. Kennedy Medical Center, both in Edison, became aware of the foundation when she was in fifth grade, while on a cruise that featured Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen as guests.
On the cruise, she met a young girl, whose wish to go on the cruise with the Olsen Twins was granted by the Make-a-Wish Foundation.
"It touched my heart," she said. "I learned about Make-A-Wish, and it's been my favorite ever since. I'm going to be a wish granter. I'm so happy to have the opportunity to volunteer with them and work extensively with them to make children's wishes come true."
Martin also will host fundraisers and represent the foundation at a variety of engagements.
Martin said she is working hard to claim the title of Miss International 2009. The competition is operated by International Pageants Inc., which also hosts the Mrs. International and Miss Teen International pageants.
"I hope to make New Jersey proud," she said. "I've been working hard to prepare for the competition. I'm working out and eating properly. I've been thinking about the interview questions, and I've been formulating some great answers. I'm really excited, and I think I'll do well. I know it will be a wonderful experience."