Competing For The Crown: How Miss America Changed My Life
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Politics and Activism

Competing For The Crown: How Miss America Changed My Life

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Competing For The Crown: How Miss America Changed My Life

In the words of Gracie Hart in "Miss Congeniality," Miss America “is not a beauty pageant, but a scholarship program” and does so much for the girls who choose to be a part of it. I had always watched fifty beautiful girls compete each year for the Miss America title on national television. I was even able to witness one of my friends make the top five and twirl for her talent. Being a baton twirler myself, and the feature twirler for the University of Illinois, that moment had inspired me to one day compete for the Miss Illinois crown. However, I never thought participating in such a program could change my life as much as it did, when I was crowned six months ago.

I competed in my first Miss Illinois preliminary pageant in Springfield, and was honored to be crowned Miss Central Illinois 2015. This began the journey of a lifetime.

When I won my crown, I was brought into a sisterhood of girls who were all uniquely talented and passionate to make a difference. I made appearances all over the state with my "sister" titleholders, getting to meet the governor, speaking to 2000+ Girl Scouts from the capitol steps, waving in parades, welcoming home our veterans for the Lincoln Land Honor Flight, and ultimately giving back to the community.

I also pushed myself to be as healthy and fit as ever. I focused on my diet and exercise, took up weight training, and tried not to let obstacles such as stress and college life get in the way of my new goals. With only a couple months into this new lifestyle, I felt good in my own skin.

Leading up to when I left for the Miss Illinois pageant, the process was a transformation of both body and soul. Though I felt I had a good chance of being successful, I also might not walk away with the title of Miss Illinois 2015. However, this did not faze me, for I knew that in my heart I had developed a lot of the qualities I had always admired in the women who were state titleholders. If I didn't win this year, I was Miss Illinois "inside" already.

For the week of Miss Illinois, I competed with thirty other girls who had titles from all over the state. Our days consisted of daily wake up calls at six o’clock in the morning, hours of rehearsals, appearances, a fashion show, talent techs and time for meals every now and then. Basically, there was little room for sleep. By Finals night, our ridiculous amount of makeup had completely clogged our pores, our feet had gone numb from the endless hours of wearing platform heals, and I think the split ends in our hair had their own split ends at that point.

However, I wouldn't have changed one thing about the experience. Though I was not crowned Miss Illinois 2015 in the end, I did not walk empty handed. The crown is the ultimate goal, but its four points all symbolize achievements that every girl should strive for. The MAO calls these “The Four Points of the Crown,” which are style, success, scholarship and service. Being in the MAO program allows each girl to develop these traits that can apply to every aspect of one’s life, even beyond competing.

My first time at Miss Illinois gave me a "sisterhood" with many of the girls I met. Now I know the hard work and discipline it took for every girl to get to the Miss America stage this September, which makes me love this system and what it does for all of the contestants. I have gained confidence within myself and found a new way to spread my passion for leadership and service to young women across the state. From being a viewer of the pageant on television, to now a local preliminary titleholder, my life has been changed by the Miss America Organization – for I know that the life lessons and opportunities it gives to each woman is probably the most valuable crown of all.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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