Miss California Night 1 Preliminary Winners

Sarell Diamond Sarah Dahdouh Nikki Holbrook

Miss California begins preliminary competition

Nikki Holbrook Miss Barbary Coast

Miss Barbary Coast Nikki Holbrook entertains with Edward Grieg's “Concerto in A Minor”

Pianist wins first-night talent award

Miss California and Miss California's Outstanding Teen kicked off the 2018 competition Wednesday at the William Saroyan Theatre in downtown Fresno. Taking home the Miss California Preliminary Talent Award for the Beta Group and a $500 scholarship sponsored by the Fresno/Clovis Visitors and Convention Bureau is Miss Barbary Coast Nikki Holbrook. Nikki performed Edward Grieg's “Concerto in A Minor” on the piano.


Sarell Diamond, Miss Hollywood

Miss Hollywood Sarell Diamond in swimwear by Kandice Pelletier

Tie in fitness competition

Tying for the Miss California Preliminary Lifestyle and Swimsuit in Fitness award for the Alpha Group are Miss Hollywood Sarell Diamond and Miss San Francisco Sarah Dahdouh. Each wore custom swimwear designed by Kandice Pelletier Swimwear, and both women will receive a $300 scholarship sponsored by the Preliminary Pageant Association. This is the final year for Miss California contestants to compete in Lifestyle and Fitness in Swimsuit as the competition will be retired beginning with Miss America on September 9.

Sarah Dahdouh Miss San Francisco

Miss San Francisco Sarah Dahdouh in the Lifestyle and Fitness competition

This evening in Miss California competition, the Alpha Group will compete in On Stage Question, the Beta Group will compete in Swimsuit & Evening Wear categories, and the Gamma Group will compete in the Talent competition. The competition will begin directly after completion of the teen preliminary. Catch all the action via our live stream at, brought to you by Nexstar Broadcasting, CBS 47 Fresno, and Live Light Technologies.

Photos courtesy of Doug Hikawa


Hollins University to Provide Scholarship to Miss California Contestants

February 14, 2018
Contact: Jessa Carmack

(FRESNO, CA) Hollins University, a four-year private institution of higher education located in Roanoke, Virginia, will be joining the team of scholarship donors for the Miss California Organization.

For all ‘Teen’ or ‘Miss’ contestants that have not attended college; Hollins University will provide up to a $20,000 in renewable scholarship to any contestant in the 2018 Miss California competition who applies, is admitted and decides to attend Hollins as a first-year student.

For any ‘Miss’ contestant or transfer student; Hollins University will provide up to a $18,000 in renewable scholarship to any contestant in the 2018 Miss California Competition who applies, is admitted and decides to attend Hollins as a first-year student.

“We are thrilled to have the support of Hollins University and hope to see our 2018 contestants take advantage of the generous scholarship donation they are providing,” Patricia Murray, CEO & Executive Director, Miss California Organization.

The 2018 Miss California & Miss California’s Outstanding Teen state finals preliminary competition will take place at the Saroyan Theatre in Downtown Fresno, June 27-29. Miss California’s Outstanding Teen 2018 will be crowned on Friday, June 29th. Miss California 2018 will be crowned on Saturday, June 30th.

About the Miss California Organization:

The Miss California Scholarship Organization is a volunteer based 501c(3) non-profit organization which was founded in 1924. As the Official State Final to Miss America, the Miss California Organization has awarded more than $6 million in cash and academic scholarships Miss California Organization | since the competition made its home in Fresno in 1990. Nurturing an ideal of beauty that includes dignity, courage, intelligence, creative talent and kindness, the successful contestants demonstrate a genuine commitment to serving others. Every year the Miss California’s Outstanding Teen and Miss California contestants make significant contributions to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals by raising funds and spreading awareness throughout the state. To learn more, visit


Instagram/Twitter: @MissCAOrg

About Hollins University:

Hollins is an independent liberal arts university dedicated to academic excellence and humane values. Hollins University offers undergraduate liberal arts education for women, selected graduate programs for men and women, and community outreach initiatives. The Hollins curriculum and cocurricular programs prepare students for lives of active learning, fulfilling work, personal growth, achievement, and service to society.

The Hollins community sustains talented students engaged in challenging study, and productive scholars and artists devoted to teaching and to the advancement of knowledge. Experiential learning, study abroad, and internships enhance the academic program. The hallmarks of a Hollins education are creativity and effective self-expression, problem solving and critical thinking skills, and independent inquiry and the free exchange of ideas.

Hollins nurtures civility, integrity, and concern for others, encourages and values diversity and social justice, and affirms the equal worth of women and men. Our university motto, Levavi Oculos, calls us to leadership and service in accord with the Hollins values and traditions.


Miss California Executive Director to Facebook Live Jan 4, 2018 7pm PST

Join us (1)Have questions about what has been happening?  Just have questions about the Miss California Organization?  Want to learn more about State Finals in June?

I will be hosting a Q and A session on Thursday, January 4, 2018 at 7pm on

If you have something you really want addressed, please email me this week at and I will include the topic at the beginning before the Q and A.

Some of the topics I will address:

  1. The current situation of the Miss America BOD, the Miss Americas and the state executive directors with regard to the national organization.
  2. The current situation of the national competition.
  3. The current  state of the Miss California Organization.
  4. Our State License with Miss America – what we have to live by as a state.
  5. The current state of our contestant and volunteer protection policies for the Miss California Organization.
  6. The road to Miss California and Miss California's OT 2018.
    1. Doubletree and Fresno
    2. Age changes
    3. Orientation 2018
    4. Ad Page Sales
    5. CMN fundraising
    6. Scholarship expectations
    7. Production news
    8. State Final Competition
      1. Judges brief for both Miss and Teen
      2. Our expectations for Miss California and Miss California's OT.
    9. Princess Program
    10. MAOT Prep
    11. MAO Prep

I will add to this list as you send me topics that you want me to address.  Can't wait to chat with everyone on Thursday!

Happy New Year!

Patricia Murray

CEO/Executive Director

Miss California Competition Schedule

The 2016 Miss California Competition Schedule is Here!

The Miss California Organization is excited to announce the 2016 Miss California Pageant schedule. Held entirely at Fresno's William Saroyan Theatre, the preliminary competitions will be held Tuesday, June 28, Wednesday, June 29, and Thursday, June 30. Each preliminary competition will begin at 7:00 PM PST.Web

Miss California Competition Line Up

The 49 Miss California Contestants have been split in to three competition groups- Alpha, Beta, and Gamma. Each night, each group will compete in a different area of preliminary competition. The Alpha contestants will have their personal interview with the judges Sunday afternoon, June 26. After interview, their next segment of competition will be Swimsuit and Evening Wear on Tuesday night, On Stage Question on Wednesday night, and finally, finish with Talent on Thursday night.

The Beta Group starts their competition schedule with Interview Monday morning. Tuesday night, Beta takes the stage in Talent, continuing with the Swimsuit and Evening Wear competitions on Wednesday night, and finishing with On Stage Question Thursday night.

The Gamma Group is the last group to complete the interview competition, scheduled for Tuesday morning, June 28. That evening, they'll compete in On Stage Question, followed by talent on Wednesday night, and finally, Swimsuit and Evening gown on Thursday night.

Learn more about the 2016 Miss California Pageant

Learn more about the 2016 Miss California competition by heading to the official Facebook Event and RSVPing, and stay tuned for more information as it develops here and across the other MCO media channels!

Miss Tustin: My New Sisters

Hey everybody, I'm Miss Tustin,  Danielle Weniger and you may recognize me from some previous blog entries. But I wanted to write today because I wanted to share my experiences from orientation this weekend!

image5Coming to Fresno, I had no idea what to expect, since Miss Tustin was my first pageant ever. However, walking away on Sunday (or driving away and passing out in the car) I couldn't help thinking about all the fun I had, all the amazing titleholders, teens, executive directors and Miss California staff that I met. Now, I honestly can't wait for June!

image3Over the course of this weekend, I had two goals. Well three, if you count having a great time and learning some stuff. But 1) was to take a selfie with every contestant. And 2) was to give everybody a bow. That might sound a little weird, but one of my favorite hobbies is crafting! I actually spent about 4 hours over the week making 57 bows, and I THINK I got one to everybody, which makes me insanely happy. Now for #missamericaserves, after I volunteer at a local charity called Operation Warm Wishes with their reading day (perfect for the theme of literacy!!) I will be starting to make as many bows, headbands and other cute accessories for girls at the Children's Miracle Network Hospital in Orange.

image1 (1)Another goal I had, was to learn every contestant's name. With the prevalence of social media, I practically knew all these girls already! So after about a month of (not stalking) looking at their Facebooks and Instagrams, I felt that I already knew everybody. It was so surreal to finally meet all these amazing women, and now I am so happy to call them my Miss California Sisters.

image4Whether I was taking selfies with them, eating lunch together, standing in line for coffee (or one of the many workshops) or even waiting on the elevator with them, I practically fell in love with all of these girls and what they stand for. After talking with them and getting to know them, I feel like a new chapter of my life is beginning, and I cannot wait to continue it in June!

Thank you so much for reading, and I urge you to read more about these wonderful ladies on the Miss California Blog, because you will be amazed with the amount of talent, service and all-around amazingness that fills the Miss California Class of 2015!

-Danielle Weniger, Miss Tustin

Miss Hollywood: It’s Not Just Bad Luck

friday the 13th photoHappy Friday the 13th everyone! I’m Joell Posey Grager, Miss Hollywood 2015. I’m not certain how my fascination with luck began, but I am a believer. Ever since I was young, my family owned Stefan Bechtel and Laurence Roy Stains’ The Good Luck Book. Simple quotes and stories of superstitious origins always intrigued me and since my entire family enjoys watching and playing sports, we held tight to our good luck charms.

Friday the 13th is a trepidatious day for a tremendous number of Americans. The Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute reports, between 17 and 21 million Americans are afraid of Friday the 13th and many of them won’t leave the house. Each year is graced with at least one Friday the 13th, while 2015 is unique with a total of three. This is a real endurance test for those suffering from paraskevidekatriaphobia, the scientific classification for a fear of Friday the 13th. Although, an abundance of individuals are frightened by this supposedly unlucky day, the beginning of its reign of terror cannot be pinpointed.


A variety of origins surround the spooking date of Friday the 13th. Some believe it stems from the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ on Good Friday and the 13 individuals present (12 apostles and Jesus) at the Last Supper. Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, published in the 14th century, declares Friday as unfortunate and a day of ill luck. Both the number 13 and Friday were not discussed as unlucky together until the 19th century. In Henry Sutherland Edwards’ 1869 biography of Gioachino Rossini speaks of the unlucky day and number in conjunction with his death. Then in 1907, Thomas W. Lawson’s novel Friday, the Thirteenth may have created widespread concerns of the superstition. Similarly Dan Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code debates the urban legend of the superstition with Friday, October 13th, 1307 when hundreds of the Knights Templar were arrested. No matter where it all began, people around the world avoid bad luck and superstitious items.

Avoiding Bad Luck

Dozens of objects and actions are considered bad luck, so on this unlucky day try to avoid black cats crossing your path and owls. Broken mirrors are haunting because it was believed a mirror was a look into your soul and if it was broken, the soul was astray from your body. Likewise, one should never kill a sparrow as ancient times believed they carried souls. Darker tales surround the superstition of walking under ladders. Before gallows, prisoners were hung from the top of a ladder and their evil ghosts linger in the triangle under. If you spill the salt shaker better through some over your left shoulder, just look before you throw so you don’t wind up with a Dumb and Dumber moment. Although umbrellas are a rare sight in Southern California, still be mindful of not opening them indoors, not only because it’s bad luck, but also because most won’t easily make it through the doorway. Last, never place new shoes on a table, instead slip them on and go out!

Good Luck Charms

Now for some lucky charms! Keep a horseshoe for good luck, but it must be displayed with the open end upwards to prevent luck from falling out. As Saint Patrick’s Day approaches the little green four-leaf clover, or shamrock, is all around. These small tokens are thought to protect people from evil spirits. The unusual charm of a rabbit’s foot wards off bad luck, especially if it is kept in your left pocket. Crossing your fingers isn’t simply for everyday luck. In American and European folklore, people would cross their fingers when they crossed graveyards. Children still cross their fingers to “X” out the lie they’re telling. One of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions is to take the wishbone with a loved one and each of us makes a wish. Whoever breaks off the larger end will have their wish come true! I continuously say, “knock on wood,” because I do worry about saying things that may jinx my favorite sports teams.

Hollywood and Theater

Wishing an actor a “good run” or “good luck” is a jinx, (so knock on that wood) instead wish them a “great opening” or to “break a leg.” Supposedly an actor can use a lucky colleague’s soap in hopes of it rubbing off on them. Two of my father and my favorite actors kept good luck tokens throughout their careers. John Wayne continued to use the six-gun from his first western he filmed and Jimmy Stewart wore the same hat throughout his career.

A few bad luck signs to avoid onstage are black cats, opening an umbrella, or dropping a comb. Randomly, if someone is knitting on or near the stage it is considered bad luck. Notoriously, Macbeth, known as the Scottish Play during rehearsal and production, is considered cursed. Several urban legends surround Macbeth including stories that the first actor playing Macbeth died during production, the actor playing Lady Macbeth died during the show and real witches cursed the play. If someone speaks the name prior to the performance they must leave the building spin three times, spit, curse and knock on the entrance to be allowed back in. Not all theater superstitions end in disaster. A terrible dress rehearsal indicates a great opening night!

Whether you’re superstitious or not, I wish you the best of luck today! And here are a few time-honored ways to improve your luck:


  1. Catch a falling leaf and keep it.
  2. Put a penny from your birth year in your penny loafers.
  3. Look at the new moon while holding silver coins in your hand.
  4. Catch the bubbles atop your coffee or tea with a spoon and drink them before they break.
  5. Tie a string in a circle and keep it in your purse.
  6. Sit with your legs crossed.
  7. Hide a lucky bean and don’t let anyone know where it is.
  8. Sprinkle a little nutmeg on your lottery tickets.
  9. Give a poor person a pair of new shoes.
  10. Before sleep, place your shoes with the toes pointing under the bed.



Finding Fitness with Core Arts Pilates

1One of the most commonly asked question I have received about pageants is, “If you could, would you eliminate the swimsuit portion?” The honest answer would have to be…no. If you would have asked me that three years ago, when I first started competing, I would have definitely said yes. So, what ironic epiphany happened to me that changed my mind, you might ask? The answer is quite simple, finding the right workout and health lifestyle that fits just YOU. For me personally, that all lies within Core Arts Pilates.

They are Miss California’s official fitness sponsor. Every Miss California that has stepped foot on the Miss America stage has looked incredibly healthy and fit with the help of Sharmila including the entire dedicated staff at the studio. Core Arts Pilates has become a part of my journey in competing for Miss Anaheim and Miss Anaheim Hills and now, thankfully, for Miss California.

These women go above and beyond just training your body to reach its fullest fitness potential. They strive to reconnect your body with your Authentic Self. Every single time you walk into the studio, you are guaranteed support, a laugh that burns your abs, other encouraging women working towards the same goal, and a workout that makes you feel unstoppable.

2They are located in Anaheim Hills and offer private, semi-private, and group Pilates classes, in a variety of affordable pricing options. It does not matter if you are a singer, dancer, competing for a pageant, or just simply finding a way to live a healthier life. Core Arts Pilates has given me the inspiration to be in the best shape of my life, find peace in myself, and confidence to compete in Lifestyle and Fitness.

When you compete in the Miss America Organization, it is completely true when they say it takes a village to send a woman to compete in a local, state, or national level. I am elated to say that Core Arts Pilates is a part of not only my village in preparation of Miss California, but a part of the Miss California Organization’s village!

-Missy Anaheim Hills 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

The Pygmalion Effect

The Pygmalion Effect
The phenomenon whereby the greater the expectation placed upon an individual, the better they perform.

Page 0    Children are gifted with an incredible innocence and a clandestine view of the world but, somehow, as these children grown older these gifts are lost. Filled with love, hope, desire, and a limitless capacity to dream, children take in life experience like sponges and begin to build the lens in which they view the world one moment at a time. Sometimes we don’t always remember that it is us who shape this lens and the world in which children view it, and it is not a responsibility to be taken lightly.

As a child, my mom and I lived in a small apartment in a seedy part of town. We were very low income and, during that time, my mother worked three jobs just to afford to live there. She sacrificed everything for my education and, as a toddler, my mom gave me only educational games – toy stethoscopes, doctor’s kits and even purchased my first microscope when I was seven. She enrolled me in piano, clarinet and violin lessons, I studied graphic design and computer programming at age eight and swam competitively everyday, hoping that my developed talent might one day earn me a spot at Stanford. Everyday, my mom told me that ‘education would be the key to my freedom’ and I have lived by those words ever since.

I never believed I was any different from my classmates. I only knew that while they were complaining about eating vegetables for dinner, my mom and I went to McDonalds for 10-cent hamburgers that we froze to eat throughout the week. But, when I was in elementary school, I became the lucky victim of a social experiment that utilized the power of positive thinking in what is now termed as The Rosenthal or Pygmalion Effect. In this afterschool program, teachers pooled a selection of both advantaged and disadvantaged students and told us that we were ‘gifted’. We had the opportunity to skip class to go on special fieldtrips and take special classes that allowed us to push our limits of thinking beyond the classroom. Looking back, I don’t believe there was one child in our group that did not graduate high school and continue towards a life of success, and I know now that this was because we were told that we could.

Page 0(1)Another definition of the Pygmalion Effect states that it is a type of self-fulfilling prophecy where, if you think something will happen, you may unconsciously make it happen through your actions or inaction. Let me be the first to tell you that this effect is 100% tangible and true. Believing that you CAN accomplish something will open more doors than you could ever think possible. Somehow, a little girl who grew up in a studio apartment in a bad part of town became a published author, a UC Davis graduate, a pianist, a world traveler and the director of the Children’s Miracle Network Second Life Organization throughout Northern California – all because someone believed in me.

Looking back, I know that I was a truly blessed child as I was given every opportunity to succeed. But, on top of that, I was surrounded by people who believed that I could succeed. Unfortunately, not every child is so lucky. The adult world places stigmas on different social groups, limiting their dreams and desires to activities society deems fit. Whether it be age, culture or gender, children often find themselves categorized and their futures determined before they’ve ever had the opportunity to choose. As a woman in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields, it seems like finding my place in the workforce is a constant battle against social stigma. Though society has come a long way in 50 years, remnants of this still remain as we often find ourselves fighting to prove our worth in fields where we are still the minority.

Here in lies the reason I find the Miss America Organization to be so incredible. Not only to we support STEM initiatives, something that is truly near and dear to my heart, but we also encourage women to pursue their childhood dreams and provide the platform to make this possible. As competitors in this organization, we are celebrated and encouraged to follow our hearts as doctors, astronauts, art teachers, computer scientists, politicians, mothers and home keepers. A title gives us the motivation to become the best version of ourselves that we could possibly be and to continue spreading this message by tirelessly serving our communities. From the moment we are crowned, we somehow become a beacon of light and a person of influence to children throughout the country. We are given the incredible power to change and shape the lens in which these children view the world and it is up to us to give them the power to accomplish the great things they dream of for themselves – through the power of positive thinking.

Ashley Ott
Miss City of Sacramento 2015