What I’ve learned: 2016 Local Pageant Edition

I am not sure of a better way to start this off then by just saying how in awe I am at the caliber of women competing to be the next Miss California. To the hundreds of women who walked across a local stage at one point or another in the last few month: I am so proud of you. By the end of that special evening, only 48 of you walked away with the crown; but I can almost guarantee that every single one of you walked away with something elseIMG_9712. Whether it was scholarship money, confidence, new friendships, or the satisfaction of knowing you could cross that next item off of your “bucket list,” the women who I had the pleasure of watching in person or via social media, have accomplished something at this early point in their lives that few will ever dare to. I find it amusing to imagine myself at a later age, being asked to share an interesting fact with a group. What better than to talk about my involvement in the Miss America Organization! Sure, my future children may not to hear anything about it, but at least I’ll have something to hang over their heads if they misbehave. “Your mom was cool, once!”

Whatever your reasons may have been for competing, and regardless if you ended up Miss ____ or not, I challenge you to take a look at yourselves. To look at the woman you were prior to competing, and look at the woman you are now. I ran across an individual at a pageant this season who asked me what it was like to be Miss California, and after he listened to my lengthy response, he summed it up perfectly:

“It sounds like a tremendous year of character building.”

This non-MCO affiliated individual could not have explained the experience any better. You enIMG_0074ter your local pageants, maybe not 100% sure what to expect. You have have never performed in front of an audience, stated your opinions on current issues in front of a panel of judges, or walked in a swimsuit with so many people looking at you. Yet within a matter of hours, you have overcome those challenges, checked them off your list, and most importantly, gained the confidence it takes to do those things. In the “real world” there are going to be many other tasks that scare you, but given your track records of stepping out of the comfort zone, you are now equipped with the confidence to rise up to life’s challenges.

To the 48 lucky women who we will see on the Miss California stage in the coming months, set your eyes not only on the accomplishments yet to come, but the ones you have garnered along your path. And to the rest of the beautiful, intelligent, poised, and fearless women who made the leap to compete at their local pageant – I hope you leverage the pieces of character you acquired in this experience, and build upon them into the future. After all, you’ve walked onstage in a swimsuit…I’m pretty sure you can conquer it all, now!


The (almost) 3 week check-in…

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Hi Everyone!

It’s the first blog of my year and I could not be more excited to touch base on how everything is going! But before I start with any of it, I just want to take a second to say the biggest, most heartfelt and appreciative “THANK YOU” to each and every one of you who have supported me in this journey. I firmly believe that we, as titleholders, are able to go out on stage, into the community, and promote the program and ourselves via social media because of the strong foundation of love built by our own personal “cheering sections.” It is because of you that we are smarter, more confident, less stressed, and prepared for any situation that may come our way. It is because of you, friends, family, sponsors, sister titleholders, ED’s, boyfriends, and advisors, that I am sitting here today – in the midst of Miss America preparations. And for those of you who have been wondering… no, it still does not even seem real! But my goodness, I have never felt so blessed.

My prep will continue throughout the next two months, so I figure I have some time to write about that later on down the road. Instead, I thought I could start things off by introducing myself to those of you who I have not yet had the chance to meet, or have not quite built a relationship with. It is with so much pride and respect to the immense responsibility of representing this entire state that it seems logical to give you a glimpse into my world – the life of the girl who you will (hopefully) be supporting throughout the year! But where do we even start?! Well to begin, yes, my name is just Bree! Not Breanna, not Breanne. I still thank my parents for making learning to spell my name a “breeze.” (Get it!?)

Bree Family

Bailey, my mom, and me before a dance recital – And yes, you're correct – I may not have always been blonde! 🙂

I was born and raised in Orange County, CA – mostly Garden Grove where I attended public school from K-12. I think my family knew I was destined for the stage at a young age as they could hardly contain my dancing feet in the grocery store, makeshift Wynonna performances in the garage, and the combined antics of my sister and me. Oh yes, I have an older sister! Her name is Bailey and she is one of the most incredible educators I have ever met. And she’s an even better sister, if you can believe that. As children our parents encouraged us to try out different sports and activities including softball, soccer, gymnastics, dance, swimming, ice skating, and even a bit of pageantry in Bailey’s case. Unfortunately for me, the ball-related sports were never my strong suit (we just watched a home video where I literally stood with my arms folded as the soccer ball rolled past). Dance, cheerleading, and gymnastics were more up my alley. I continued to dance from age 4 to about 12 when my love for competitive cheerleading took hold. Over the years, I began to climb up the rankings, ultimately ending up on a small senior coed level 5 team, and ended up doing quite well at the Worlds Cheerleading Competition in Orlando, Florida. 149644_1490450696697_6807344_nI was recognized by the Golden State Spirit Association as the “Cheerleader of the Year,” and was even featured in a cheerleading publication or two! In those years of competing, I learned first hand the immense power of sportsmanship, teamwork, perseverance, hard work, and humility.

I always LOVED school. Growing up near Disneyland, there were a few special days a year that my mom would surprise us by pulling us out of a non-busy day of school and treating us to a day of Disney. Unlike most children, however, I was often walking to the office upset that I would be missing out on the day’s lesson. (If only she would have done this in college!) I became involved in school leadership at a young age, joining the student council in 4th grade and continuing throughout high school. 37265_1357854581877_5869987_nI attended Pacifica High School in West Garden Grove (the same school as Miss CA 2012, Leah – some of our teachers think they specialize in breeding Miss Californias now!) where I was a varsity cheerleader all four, incredible years. Homecoming float building, applying for colleges, school dances, and many summer camps for ASB and cheer later, I had the time of my life and left feeling prepared for the next chapter in my life – college!

Bree Delta Gamma

Me and my – Gamma Chi, Long Beach State – Delta Gamma sisters!

“Go Beach!” quickly turned into my motto, and still is when suggesting where local students should apply to school. I loved every bit of it. From all of my business classes, to the beautiful campus, to the Greek life I experienced, and the wonderful people I met. I came in as a freshman, ambitions set on being a marketing major, and ended up getting much more than what I asked for. I became a Delta Gamma soon after – a decision that still warms my heart to this day. In so many ways, being a part of a sorority, especially when involved in leadership, is very similar to being a titleholder in the Miss America Organization. You are not just expected to uphold the ideals set forth by the organization and the accomplished women before you, but you relish in the opportunity to do so. Nothing brought me more pride than leaving the sorority after my presidency, knowing that my sisters would be left with the chapter in a better place than I found it. Graduation rolled around and once again I left, proud of what I had accomplished, but so undoubtedly excited for what was to come in the future.


The marketing team's Halloween costume, 2014. Little did we know that “Napoleon” would be bringing his tots to Miss America!

Surprise! A 9 to 5. Work is what came next. I had worked at the same office throughout college, but as graduation approached, persuaded our leadership to open a position for me in the marketing department – my ideal job! For about a year and a half I worked as a communications coordinator at an architecture firm and could not even begin to explain the value of my experience in doing so. I learned so many important lessons about collaboration, Microsoft Excel, that yelling at Microsoft Excel will not make it cooperate, and about the “real world” in general. However, the most important lesson I learned was more broad – that my happiness is more valuable than the dollar. Prior to competing at Miss California, I made a difficult decision. One that had manifested itself over months of struggling with the idea of where I saw myself as a working professional. At the end of the day, I want to be a servant to the public good. Where I was, albeit amongst an amazing group of coworkers, I would leave feeling unfulfilled; that my work was not contributing the “good” to society that I had wished. So after a year and a half, I quit. (Read my blog about it, HERE!)

Yet, for those of you who know me – I am a planner! I almost always have a contingency plan, and in this case one was already in the works. I had applied to be a substitute teacher in a local school district where my mom and sister are also employed and was hired on the spot. In the weeks leading up to Miss California, I began subbing in classes ranging anywhere from Kindergarten to 12th grade – and I LOVED it! There is something so fun about being able to go into the classroom, and although it might be a bit unruly, helping students of various ages understand concepts. To quench them of their thirst for knowledge, whether they realize the need for it, or not. And let’s face it, the kids are hilarious. Of the many classes I had the opportunity to sub, there was never a dull day. There were also plenty of airborne illnesses, and a strep-throat scare the week prior to Miss California – but it was ALL worth it!

Bree Family pic

The Morse Family Christmas Card! Me, Bailey, Mom (Debbie) and Dad (Dave).

So now I find myself here! Not quite in a cubicle, not quite in the classroom, not quite crying about being “forced” to go to Disneyland, but in a place that I could not be more content to be in. So many of the experiences I have been afforded in my life had led me exactly to where I am now – and for those opportunities, and for the individuals who made it all possible, I am so thankful. (A special thanks to you: mom, dad, and Bailey!)

Alright, well if you labored through this essay, thank you! And I hope that you know me a bit more now! I cannot wait to get out and meet each and every one of you when the opportunity presents itself. Until then, follow along with me in the journey to Miss America, and in my year as Miss California!

All the best,

{Keep up with Bree online at @MissCAOrg and on her profile HERE}

Miss Santa Clara: Keep Active With The TRX

Hi all! My name is Jessa Carmack and I have the great honor of representing my home as Miss Santa Clara 2015.

A huge part of being a titleholder is living a healthy and active lifestyle in order to adhere to a busy and demanding schedule. There are an immense number of workouts and maybe even a few you have not been introduced to. A big tip I like to give to keep active is to find a few different types of workouts that you enjoy so you can switch up your daily routine. Two years ago, I was introduced to the Total Body Resistance Exercise (TRX) and fell in love with it! Six months after taking classes I decided to earn my TRX teacher qualification and taught classes for a year. I continue to substitute teach classes when I get the chance. The TRX was created in 1988 by a Navy SEAL, Randy, in order to stay fit on the road. Since then, the TRX trainer has come a long way and the empire continues to expand.

One of my favorite things about the TRX is that there is an endless number of ways you can use it. The best part of it all is that the workout is all core, all the time! Below I will walk through two exercises for an upper body workout, lower body workout and abdominal workout.

Upper Body

Bicep curl (Done @ mid-strap. See video for more info.)

Bicep curls are a familiar exercise that you usually see performed with free weights. On the TRX the weight you use is your body weight and can be modified at any time by your foot position toward the anchor.

  • Grip the hard handles and straighten your arms facing the anchor. Walk backwards until you have tension on the straps.
  • Press your shoulders down as far as you can away from your ears and rotate your palms upward.
  • Keeping your head in the same place, walk your feet toward the anchor to find your body in a diagonal from head to feet.
  • Contract your biceps and being to pull your palms toward your temples.
  • Once your palms reach your temples slowly extend your arms back to the starting position.
  • Repeat steps 4-5 12 times for 3 sets.

*** TIP: The closer your feet are to the anchor the more challenging the exercise will be. You can always adjust your foot position to vary the difficulty during the workout.

Tricep extension (Done @ mid-strap. See video for more info.)

Tricep extensions are also an exercise that is usually seen performed with free weights or a workout machine. Once again, on the TRX your body is your weights!

  • Grip the hard handles and straighten your arms facing away from the anchor. Walk away from the anchor until you have tension on the straps.
  • With your extended arms, place your hands at eye level and press your shoulders down as far as you can away from your ears.
  • Take a step or two back toward the anchor so your body is in a slight diagonal position from head to feet.
  • With your palms facing down, begin to bend your elbows so the backs of your hands are moving in the direction toward your temples. Keep your elbows lifted away from your chest.
  • Once the back of your hands reach your temples push down on the hard handles until your arms are in a full extension.
  • Repeat steps 4-5 12 times for 3 sets.

Lower Body

TRX Balance Lunge (Done @ mid-strap. See video for more info.)

Lunges are a classic lower body exercise, but with the TRX there are tons of variations to spice them up!

  • Grip the hard handles and straighten your arms facing the anchor. Walk backwards until you have tension on the straps.
  • Turn your palms to face one another and press your shoulders down away from your ears. Maintain good posture.
  • Balancing on your left foot, pick up your right leg with a bent knee and bring your knee up to your chest.
  • Slowly bend the left leg and simultaneously bring that bent right leg back like you are going to do a lunge, but don’t let the right foot touch the ground.
  • Begin to straighten the left leg to stand upright while bringing the bent right knee back toward your chest.
  • Repeat steps 3-5 12 times for 3 sets.
  • Do complete exercise on the other leg.

Hamstring curl (Straps pulled mid-shin. See video for more info.)

Not only can you workout your lower body in the standing position, but also in addition there are plenty of lower body exercises you can do lying down like hamstring curls. TIP: A mat is suggested when using the TRX lying down.

  • Have a seat facing the anchor and place your heals in the soft straps. The bottoms of your feet should be pressing against the hard handles.
  • Once your feet are secure, lie down on your back and straighten your legs. Make sure your feet are right underneath the anchor.
  • With your hands by your bottom, engage your glutes and lift your bottom off of the ground/ mat.
  • Press your heels down into the soft straps as hard as you can to keep constant tension on the straps.
  • Begin to bend your knees toward your chest until the reach 90 degrees.
  • Slowly straighten your legs until they reach the starting position.
  • Repeat steps 4-6 15 times for 3 sets.


TRX crunch (Straps pulled mid-shin. See video for more info.)

Although every exercise performed on the TRX uses your core, there are specific exercises to focus on those abdominal muscles! Who doesn’t want a six-pack?! 😉

  • Facing away from the anchor, kneel on the ground/ mat and place your toes and tops of your feet in the soft straps.
  • On all fours, walk your hands away from the anchor like you are going into a pushup position.
  • With your hands on the ground, push off of your knees, straighten your legs and make sure your shoulders are over your wrists. You are now in a plank!
  • Engage your core by pressing your belly button up toward your spine.
  • In your plank, push the top of your feet down into the soft straps to keep constant tension.
  • Begin to bend your knees in toward you chest until they touch your stomach.
  • Slowly push your knees away from your chest and straighten your legs until you return to your plank.
  • Repeat steps 4-7 12 times for 3 sets.

TRX V (Straps pulled mid-shin. See video for more info.)

Want to bump up the difficulty for a TRX crunch? The TRX V is the exercise to try!

  • Facing away from the anchor, kneel on the ground/ mat and place your toes and tops of your feet in the soft straps.
  • On all fours, walk your hands away from the anchor like you are going into a pushup position.
  • With your hands on the ground, push off of your knees, straighten your legs and make sure your shoulders are over your wrists. You are now in a plank!
  • Engage your core by pressing your belly button up toward your spine.
  • In your plank, push the top of your feet down into the soft straps to keep constant tension.
  • Begin to pike your hips and lift your bottom up toward the ceiling so your body starts to form a V shape. Simultaneously look toward your knees.
  • Slowly lower your bottom to release your pike and return to your plank, returning your gaze to your hands.
  • Repeat steps 4-7 12 times for 3 sets.

If you are more of a visual learner I have created this video of brief how-to’s of each exercise for your reference J

Thank you for reading and I hope you try the TRX soon! Follow my year through photos on Instagram @MissSantaClara


Jessa Carmack

Miss Santa Clara 2015


Miss Garden Grove’s Disney Dreams

“All of your dreams can come true if you have the courage to pursue them.”- Walt Disney

10979431_812936712094391_1384376344_nHello everyone! My name is Shannon Galipault and I was blessed to be crowned Miss Garden Grove 2015 in October! I would love to talk to you all about my favorite place in the entire world, which most people know as the “happiest place”, DISNEYLAND!! This quote above is one that I truly do believe in and has encouraged me to do many things in my life, such as get a job at Disneyland and compete in pageants.

I have to admit that I am quite the Disney nerd and could tell you way too much about the park, its history, and its amazing creator Walt himself. In order to save time, I will give you just a brief historical overview of Disneyland, and also let you in on why it has changed my life. Did you know that Disneyland is the only Disney park that Walt actually stepped foot in? Personally, I think Disneyland is the coolest park just for that reason alone. He put every ounce of his soul into creating a place where everyone would feel at home. “To all who come to this happy place; welcome. Disneyland is your land. Here age relives fond memories of the past… and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams and the hard facts that have created America… with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.”- Walt Disney

This speech is pure genius to me. Disneyland is not just some amusement park, it is a place for people to forget about the outside world and enjoy life through the eyes of a child. But this happy, growing, and quickly expanding company did not start out as such. On opening day, July 17th, 1955, everything that could go wrong did. Women’s heels were sinking into the still drying concrete, food and beverages sold out in hours, there were no drinking fountains, rides broke down, people snuck in illegally, and there was a gas leak in Fantasyland. Walt didn’t let that stop him, and in a matter of weeks, over a million guests had already walked through the Magic Kingdom’s gates.

I think Walt has an incredibly inspiring story, coming from such a small and humble lifestyle, to creating a place people dream of going to. His quote at the top echoes so much of what he had to go through and how I believe I should live my life. Ever since I started competing in the Miss America program as a sophomore in high school, I dreamed of being a Miss titleholder and winning Miss America. Being a teen, I never thought I would be capable or have the opportunity to do so. This quote reminded me that if I had the courage to go out on a limb, wear a swimsuit, partake in a 10-minute interview where I had no clue what would be asked, then I could achieve my wildest dreams. Competing for Miss Garden Grove and putting my soul and heart into it was going out on a limb, but look where I am now! I am competing for Miss California in June with the chance of winning and competing in Atlantic City for Miss America.

My job at Disneyland lets me create magic every day for people all across the globe. It has taught me many different things, but the most important one is that giving up is never an option. I am proud of my involvement in the Miss America Organization and will continue to give it my all until I reach my dreams. I encourage you to do the same.


Shannon Galipault

Miss Garden Grove 2015

The Miss California Evolution: From Contestant to Director

I guess the best place to start this blog would be the day I received my acceptance letter into UC Berkeley and was told by my mom that there was no money for college. Yes, I had spent four years of high school killing myself to get good grades, participate in sports, student government, church, and piano lessons just to have the brutal reality that there was absolutely no money for me to attend college.

My grandmother sat with me on the piano bench, looked at me and said, “Paula-Sue if you put your mind to it, you will figure out how to get to Cal and graduate.” With that vote of confidence I was set on trying to construct a plan to get myself to Cal. I spent countless hours searching the web trying to figure out what I was going to do and low and behold I found the Miss Contra Costa County Scholarship Organization as an option to earn money for college.

10968272_10204204084394547_1008432524_nPageants? Me? No! I’m a tomboy and I don’t wear makeup, BUT… I do have a talent, I can interview, I don’t look half bad in a swimsuit…I can learn to walk in heels. So, with all those thoughts looming in my head I contacted the Executive Director of the Miss Contra Costa County Program and attended their orientation.   What I found was that I could compete and earn money for college by just attending a few rehearsals and going on stage for various areas of competition. DONE! Well, shockingly I didn’t win, but I walked away with enough money to get myself to the next semester of Junior College! Whoo Hoo! That’s all I wanted at that point… but a few years later, now a UC Berkeley graduate, I wanted to go back and get my Master’s Degree, so I looked back to the Miss California Organization. This time, I won!!! I was going to Fresno in a few short months as Miss Oakland to compete for Miss California! Again I walked away with scholarship dollars for my education and was elated that all I had to do was what I already do daily, volunteer, work, interact with people in my community.

10966800_10204204084354546_1284776410_nMy year of service as Miss Oakland 2007 seemed to fly by. I made amazing friends like Nicole (Honaker) Cook, Brittney (Rice) Arrendano, Stephanie (Schutt) Quintal, and GH Armour. These women along with many others helped me grow outside of my comfort zone, be goofy, and yes, even how to dance…thank you Stephanie for spending so many hours during pageant week working with my two left feet so Season didn’t put me in the back!

As a titleholder I took it seriously. I made it my mission to be out in the community to share my experiences in the program, reach out to other young ladies and give them hope for higher education. Since I was new to being a titleholder, I learned as I went along and one of my fondest memories was going to the Reading Room at Children’s Hospital weekly to play and read with the children there.

Being a titleholder to me was a huge responsibility and job as you are the face of the program you represent. Through the Miss program I found amazing organizations to partner with and join like the Rotary Club of San Ramon where I have now been a member for 6 years.

10958255_10204204084434548_1802021877_nFast forward eight years… and I am now the Executive Director of the Miss Contra Costa County Program. I never imagined that I would ever be running a local Miss America Scholarship Program. However, when I was presented with the opportunity to revive an amazing and influential program in the community I couldn’t turn it down. It hasn’t been easy, it hasn’t all been fun, but what I have gained is fabulous friends in the program, two amazing, talented, bright and fabulous young ladies as my titleholders and an extended family throughout the Miss California Program. I’ve been given the awesome platform to provide a forum where young women are given the opportunity to learn how to achieve their maximum potential through public speaking, community service, while developing self-confidence.

Looking back I believe it was fate that I found the Miss California Organization all those years ago. I believe that all the struggles to get my degree, resurrect a local scholarship program, and getting involved in the community at every level was (and is) well worth it!


Paula (Silva) Gross
Executive Director, Miss Contra Costa County
Miss Oakland 2007

Show Some Love on Valentine’s Day

Bree (at right) with her mom and sister

Bree (at right) with her mom and sister

Before I get into the real reason for this blog, I just wanted to introduce myself and say thanks for stopping by our page! My name is Bree Morse and in January I was fortunate enough to be crowned Miss Orange Coast 2015. I’m excited for the year that lies ahead of me and to have the opportunity to share my experiences with you (you can follow me on Instagram at @missorangecoast)!

Valentine’s Day is soon approaching, and whether or not you have that “special someone,” there is probably a part of you screaming “Great. What do I do now?” Most likely, there’s also part of you hoping that an admirer will send you a special delivery of a 5lb box of See’s Candy. At least I’m guilty of both of these thoughts. In all actuality, Valentine’s Day was not always associated with secret admirers, flying babies with a bow and arrow, and excessive amounts of confectionery hearts. Originally a religious holiday, it wasn’t until the 1300’s that the holiday became associated with romance. In the 1840’s, along came mass produced Valentine’s Day cards that would soon establish February 14th as a prominent consumer holiday. I can’t imagine that they had the One Direction valentines at that time, but the tradition of letting someone know that you care about them has carried on ever since.

Don't forget your favorite Valentine-themed clothes!

Don't forget your favorite Valentine-themed clothes!

For as long as I can remember, Valentine’s Day has been one of my favorite holidays of the year. Every February 14th my sister and I would wake up even earlier just to have our mom French braid a heart into the back of our heads as we wrote out valentines to our classmates (One year I had Lisa Frank cards with matching pencils. At that point I thought for sure my life was made). After leaving the house with the perfect hair-do, it was off to school to pass out your notes of admiration then to see what you received in return. There was nothing better than the feeling of untying the yarn holding closed your craft-time mailbox to see kindness and compassion of your peers spill out onto your desk (the candy and pencils weren’t bad, either).

To this day, I cannot overstate the importance of making the holiday special for those you care about. My mom doesn’t French braid my hair in the mornings, but on that day I still find every single heart-adorned accessory and clothing item that I own to show my love for Valentine’s Day. So this year, regardless if you’ll be going to a fancy dinner with your Valentine or if your special someone is your cat (let’s face it, my cat Stanley is quite a catch), challenge yourself to go out of your way to let someone know that you care about them. It’s a kind gesture as simple as telling someone they look nice, that they made you smile the other day, or even giving them that prized Lisa Frank pencil. Although the 5 lb box of candy will definitely not be turned down, it’s the essence of Valentine’s Day that makes it so special – to love, and be loved. Who could pass that opportunity up?!

All my best,
Bree Morse
Miss Orange Coast

Be Proud of Who You Are

10448179_10152875008248659_8538628945407709887_nCue the cheesy “You can do anything!” and “New Year, New You!” articles. January always seems to be full of them 🙂 I know that topics like these can seem super cliché and overdone but having recently experienced what it means to be proud of myself and become a “New Me,” I wanted to share it with you and hopefully encourage you as we get into 2015.

As a brand new titleholder, I was immediately bombarded with a lot of information, well wishes, and responsibilities. Add that on top of leaving home 3 days after winning to finish my last semester of college in a different state. I’m sure you can imagine how exciting, surreal and overwhelming it all was. It’s not that it wasn’t fun; it just felt like a lot to know about and respond to at once. This is my first MAO title so I had no idea what the contestant portal was or what my “crash” was 😉 I’m your typical STEM student who knew more about bacteriophages than butt glue!

Feeling as if I had two polar opposite sides to my personality created this split in heart. I felt like I had to prove to my friends and family that I hadn’t changed and become a self-absorbed princess overnight like movies and television like to portray pageant winners. I wanted to show them I’m still the same nerdy Diamond who likes sci-fi novels and graphic design! But as a role model and representative for all of San Diego County, I felt like I needed to prove I was the perfect winner, who posted great selfies and was a seasoned pro (even though I’m not). It isn’t that anyone put these pressures on me – it was what I perceived people would want from me.

Well this stress only lasted about two weeks before I talked to my mom about it (aren’t moms awesome?!) and she gave me a great pep talk about Just. Being. Me. She said, “Just be Diamond. They chose you as their winner for a reason. You showed your true personality in that interview and that’s what they liked.” That helped me so much because it reminded me that no one is asking me to be different than I already am. The “Diamond” in interview mode is the same “Diamond” in student mode – she just talks about different things. And looks a whole lot nicer for interview than for class!

I share this story to encourage you. Who you are is good enough. You are truly special, unique, gifted, intelligent, and graceful. You might be quirky or composed; goofy, or sarcastic. That is awesome! And I mean it because you have to be proud of yourself and be your own cheerleader sometimes. When we’re proud of who we are, it naturally shines on the outside. And it’s that very glow that the children who want to wear our crowns, the organizations that ask us to speak, and the judges that decide our next step in this journey notice and fall in love with. You GLOW girl!

The next morning after talking to my mom, I made a cup of tea and the message on the bag said “Be proud of who you are.” It was like God winking at me. I know my Miss San Diego and real families are so so proud of me and wouldn’t want me to change. I don’t want me to change either.

Here’s to a new year filled with love, family, and pride in who you are. Maybe for the first time, your “New Year, New Me” will actually be “New Year, Real Me.”

So much love,
Miss San Diego 2015

Miss California Marina Inserra’s Preliminary Talent At Miss America

Tonight, Wednesday, September 10, Marina competed in the preliminary talent portion of preliminaries. Watch below as she sings “Bring Him Home” from Les Miserables!