Posts

Lauren Herring | Miss Clovis

Miss-Clovis-Lauren-HerringHi, I’m Lauren Herring, Miss Clovis 2018! Since 1924 the Miss California Organization has been pumping out scholarship queens and childhood dreams. Since 2017 I’ve been lucky enough to benefit from this organization. Going into the program I only had a small idea of what I was getting myself into. No one can really explain the look in a small child’s eyes when they see a girl with big hair and a sparkly crown on their head, and no one can really explain how it will make you feel.

The four points of the crown are service, scholarship, style, and success. If I had to add a fifth S, it would be strength, because boy oh boy do you have to be strong for this job. You don’t realize the extent of your importance until you’re expected to show up and just be yourself. That’s the most admirable thing about this Organization, you get a sash and a crown and a nation-wide platform, just for being yourself. Not only that, but you get to be yourself and be an advocate for whatever you want.

Another unexplainable perk you won’t understand until post-crowning is how much you can impact the people you meet. I learned from Uncle Ben (Spider-Man reference) that with great power comes great responsibility. The second you put on that crown, you become the most convincing person in the room. As Miss Clovis I wanted my platform to be all about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.) STEM education and careers are important because these are the careers that dictate the way our world works. My platform also focuses on encouraging girls and young women to pursue STEM to create a greater female presence within the STEM industry.

Women are important and what they can’t explain to you before become a title holder is that it’s the kids that make you feel most important. Beyond my personal platform is the MAO official platform, the Children’s Miracle Network. If you ever lose hope in humanity just know there’s 80 + queens with 80 + people behind them working to make sure every child has proper medical treatment.

What they can explain to you, is that these moments are special, so take lots of pictures. They can tell you that you’re going to make a lot of friends and these friends will stay with you throughout your lifetime. They can tell you that the year is short, and while I’ve only been Miss Clovis a few short months, they’ve been the quickest few months of my life.

I can tell you that this is so much more than what I expected, but so much more in the best possible way.

Alyssa Scofield | Miss San Fernando Valley

Alyssa Scofield Miss San Fernando ValleyMy name is Alyssa Scofield and I am Miss San Fernando Valley 2018! I am so excited to represent this beautiful city in Fresno at Miss California come June. Through my title, I am able to promote my platform Knowledge is Power which works to promote education reform state wide. I graduated with a degree in Elementary and Special Education from Arizona State University and you can probably guess, education reform has always been a passion of mine. After graduating from ASU, I took a job as a full-time 5th grade teacher in an incredibly low income school district. I had 35 students in one classroom. As you can imagine the classroom was overcrowded and the amount of classroom supplies I had access to were incredibly scarce so I had to purchase my own. The air conditioning would constantly break, the kids did not have access to a school psychiatrist, and in some cases there were more children in classrooms than there were desks. All of my students families fell far below the poverty line and in some cases some of my students were even homeless. Every day when I got home I would constantly think about what more I could do for these amazing children. That’s when I really started working with my platform. Through Knowledge is Power I am able to communicate the importance of education to a wide range of individuals from teachers to politicians. In Los Angeles I worked in the office of Mayor Eric Garcetti as the chairwoman of the Mayors Youth Council. This amazing program not only focused on Education Reform, but also helped students get more involved in their community.  Through my title as Miss San Fernando Valley I am able to continue my fight for equal education regardless of race, gender, or socio economic status.

alyssa-Scofield-TalentThe Miss America program has also helped me live out another one of my passions. Dance! I have been dancing since the age of three and haven’t stopped since.I have danced in the AFL, NFL, and the NBA.  I love performing because I love to see others smile! Through the Miss America organization I have gained over $3000 in scholarships that helped me continue my passion for education and dance. I am eternally grateful for everything this organization has given me and can’t wait to continue my service as a local title holder!

Currently I am working in Los Angeles as an in home Education Therapist and in my free time, I also work as a cycling instructor. Physical fitness and eating healthy are also very important to me so I love to stay healthy and active!
Thank you for following along as I work to obtain my dream job! See you in Fresno!

Meet Miss Tustin, Raena Ramirez

My name is Raena Ramirez and I am Miss Tustin 2018! I chose to give you all a look into who I am and my journey through the Miss California Organization. From my platform to traveling to Disneyland- you can learn about my job aspirations, my athletic career, and why I am beyond ecstatic to represent the city of Tustin!

From a black belt and nun chucks to a sash and crown!

At the young age of three, I was introduced to the sport Tae Kwon Do. My mom signed my sisters up and because I had to be just like them, she eventually signed me up too. I had no idea the dedication, hard work, and sweat it would take to achieve one of the highest levels of success in this sport- the black belt. I attended classes six days a week over 3 hours a day for 4 years when I became the youngest student in the studio to receive my black belt at just seven years old. I continued with this sport for a couple more years until I decided I wanted to branch out and try new things. I tried soccer, acting, guitar, and so many other activities. I was thirteen when my mom told me she entered me in a pageant. I had no idea what a pageant consisted of and my only knowledge came from Toddlers and Tiaras so to say I was worried was definitely an understatement.

Miss teen Simi Valley HayleyWhenever I look back at my first pageant ever it makes me smile because it was a great experience and changed my life forever, but it was a disaster. I was so nervous in my interview that I didn’t really answer any of the questions in full sentences. When asked about the best place to visit in my city as a tourist, I said, “probably frozen yogurt”. I forgot my heels, which meant I had to wear my sandals and to put the cherry on top, I wore my sister’s old prom dress that came above my ankles, a little longer than mid shin. I was so embarrassed and never wanted to see a stage again but after much time and thought, I decided I would compete again the next year. I practiced even more and worked even harder and became Miss Teen Simi Valley 2013.  

Miss Ventura County Hayley HuntI was introduced to the Miss America Organization in 2014 and loved that it wasn’t just a pageant but a scholarship opportunity.  If it weren’t for my mom signing me up in 2012, I would not be the person I am today. I have found so much confidence within myself, I am actually interested in politics, I love being on the stage, and so much more. I am grateful for the opportunity to be Miss Ventura County 2018 to use my voice and make a difference. I love being able to serve my community and share my platform Stand Up and Speak Out. I still whip out my nun chucks every now and then just to remember where I started. From breaking boards and wearing uniforms to hairspray and spray tans, I love that I can choose to be whoever I want to be.

 

How I Laughed My Way To Miss Placentia

“Always find a reason to laugh. It might not add years to your life but it will add life to your years.”

Growing up I was always a shy kid who was nervous when it came to making new friends. Through trial and error I found the best way to make new friends was to say a joke out loud and wait to see who laughed. Making people laugh is a great ice breaker. Once I knew who laughed at my jokes it was much easier to approach them to talk about other things.

Miss Placentia Bella Vino Comedy SportzAs time went by I used laughter and jokes to get me through all kinds of changes in my life. Especially when I moved from my hometown of Las Vegas, Nevada to Yorba Linda, California. I was 9 years old and I had a new school, a new house, and a new audience of people waiting for a good laugh. All through elementary and middle school I was the kid who was always telling stories making people laugh. Later I found that even if I wasn’t using my joking to break the ice, making people laugh made me feel good. Time goes by so quickly, I blinked and before I knew it I had laughed my way all the way to High School!
During club rush my freshman year, I saw roughly a million different clubs on school, or at least that’s what it felt like. There was one club that really piqued my interest called Comedy Sportz. I had never heard of this before but it seemed this club was made perfect just for me! It was an improv comedy team that played against each other to compete for points and laughter. Basically, this was a club based on things I had done my whole life! I was so curious about it that I went to the first show they put on. After a night of laughter, popcorn, and some really ridiculous games I think it’s safe to say that I was hooked. Hooked enough to go to every match I could for the next two years. It was hilarious and entertaining, but I was not sure if I could do comedy in front of a huge audience like that. When junior year came along I finally decided to take the plunge and join the team.

Bella-Vino-Miss-PlacentiaThe first day of practice we learned the basics of improv and we played an unimaginable amount of high energy games to get our creative juices flowing. The first day had ended and I wanted to quit the team immediately. I was so intimidated at how talented these people were and how they seemed to be just as energetic and funny off the stage as when they were performing. It was my turn to give a pun to all the players and the only thing that was coming to my head was what I was having for dinner that night or if I left my curling iron plugged before I left this morning. It was easy to be funny when I wasn’t really trying but it is crazy how trying to be funny, suddenly makes you a million times less funny.

Although I went home wanting to quit, I knew I had committed to the team. I went back to every practice after that determined to make it better than the one before. In what felt like no time at all I was cleared to play for my first match. I was so nervous, but I knew that I was prepared and I had a whole team of friends supporting me. The match was amazing and I did really well. I made a marked improvement after every match. So much so that I was awarded the Most Improved Player Award at the end of the year banquet.

Miss Placentia Bella VinoComedy Sportz has been so much fun for the past two years and through the silliness and laughter I have learned some really important life lessons. On the morning of my interview with the Miss Placentia judges I was confident that I could answer questions quickly and creatively and of course make them laugh! When I came out of the interview the girls who waiting to go next asked what was going on in there because they could hear the laughter all the way out in the lobby! As I had done in the past I used laughter as a great ice breaker and felt I had made a great first impression with judges.

They say “Laughter is the best medicine”. As Miss Placentia 2018, I look forward to a year filled with fun and laughter. I am so excited for the opportunity that the Miss America Program has given us to come together, make new friends and compete at Miss California. I look forward to the new friends, new adventures, and new hilarious stories to tell!

Asante Sana, Africa | Miss Southland

“Only by giving are you able to receive more than you already have.”- Jim Rohn

 

Miss Southland Stephanie Behring The Wheelchair FoundationAt twenty-three years of age, I have witnessed more hardship and inaccessibility than most people will see in their lifetime. In 2001, my grandfather, Kenneth E. Behring, established The Wheelchair Foundation, a non-profit organization in Washington D.C. Although this organization is something that I have been exposed to since I was a young child, it is has touched me so deeply that I plan to one day take over for my father as the President of The Wheelchair Foundation. I feel honored and blessed to have been able to support their mission on over ten different mission trips in twelve different countries.

The Wheelchair Foundation has been my gateway to seeing these hardships firsthand in a myriad of different countries and has opened up my eyes to a world that many people tend to shove under the rug. Poverty, disease, malnutrition, armed conflict and lack of proper medical care are all major struggles and causes of disability in the developing world.

To date, The Wheelchair Foundation has delivered over 1,000,000 wheelchairs to over 156 different countries across the globe. It is estimated that at least one hundred million children, teens and adults worldwide need a wheelchair, but cannot afford one. Some international organizations state that the number could be as high as 6% of the population of developing countries.

Miss Southland Stephanie Behring The Wheelchair FoundationMany times, these individuals do not attend school and are less likely to be employed. Families with a disabled family member tend to struggle financially and are pushed further into poverty often resulting in abandonment. Already suffering from the pain, isolation and indignity of a physical disability, many of these people must endure further burdens, many are forced to live on the ground or to wait to be carried to meet their most basic of needs. For many of the disabled, a wheelchair is a critical source of mobility which aids independence and integration into society, including their ability to earn a livelihood. For disabled children, a wheelchair aids their cognitive and psychosocial development.

When I was 14, I had the unforgettable opportunity to travel to South Africa to deliver wheelchairs with my dad and some Rotarians. Though I had always felt it was my calling to serve others, it was this pivotal trip that transformed the course of my life and who I was as a Daughter of the King. Since my last trip to Africa, I had had dreams to return, but this time around I wanted to make the trip happen completely on my own. My father told me that the way in which I could return would be to fund two containers of wheelchairs- which seemed daunting at $16,500 per container.

3 years ago, that dream to return to Africa became not only a plan, but a mission. For three years, I went to Rotary Club after Rotary Club putting together presentations on The Wheelchair Foundation (TWF), spoke at local schools, and put together fundraisers hoping that people would aid me on this mission. It is still SO darn humbling to know that so many incredible individuals provided what they could to help me surpass my goal of 2 containers, in fact, these servant-hearted folks helped me raise $42,500 to bring with us to Africa!!!! (Forever saying thank you for this!)

My dream had come alive and before we knew it, we were contacting non-profits and organizations in Africa and booking our flights to Tanzania.

Stephanie Behring Miss Southland The Wheelchair FoundationWhen we arrived in Tanzania, we were sent on our way to the first wheelchair distribution at the Arusha District Commissioners Office. When we arrived, we were greeted with over 100 smiling faces of recipients, supporters, and family members. I’ll never forget pulling up to the distribution and seeing so much joy and gratitude in one sitting. We were escorted to a small, white table in front of all the recipients where a few members of the Tanzanian government introduced us and spoke about our non-profit and our mission. Before we began placing the recipients in the wheelchairs, my father and I were able to give speeches of our own (it was pretty nifty to have our own Swahili translator!)

The next day marked our second wheelchair distribution which took place in Monduli at the Monduli Rehabilitation Centre where we were once again greeted with about 75 smiling and joyous faces! At the rehab center, we were able to see the rehabilitation services provided by the Tanzanian government and were able to visit with a few of the children who were recovering from amputations, limb separation, prosthetic limb attachment, or facial surgeries.

Miss Southland Stephanie Behring The Wheelchair FoundationFollowing the tour of the rehab center, we began to set up the 50+ wheelchairs we had brought with us, most of them being “kanga wheelchairs,” which are specialized wheelchairs for those with severe deformities (I.E cystic fibrosis, cerebral palsy, Mermaid Syndrome). Most of our recipients on our distributions were children, and upon seeing all of them, I immediately wished that we had been able to provide more of the kanga wheelchairs (which is tough because they’re pricier at $650 per wheelchair versus $150 for the regular ones).

As always, it’s incredibly difficult to see the disabilities and struggles that plague a third world country, and this distribution was no exception.

One of the most heart-wrenching feelings is seeing the way in which many of these people live when they are immobile. Many recipients arrived on motorcycles by being strapped to the driver, crawled their way to the distribution, used crutches as transportation, were carried on the backs of their caretakers, and some even made make-shift wheelchairs that were falling apart piece by piece.

We saw so many children that had horrific birth defects- most prominently cystic fibrosis, cerebral palsy, hydrocephalus (brain swelling), Sirenomelia (Mermaid Syndrome where a baby is born with their legs sewn together), and congenital amputation (where a baby is born without limbs). A lot of these birth defects are due to lack of proper nutrition during pregnancy, excess fluoride in the water, AIDS, unsafe food and water, and poor prenatal care.

The remainder of our recipients were a mixture of elderly, people who had been paralyzed by car accidents, and people that had been involved in work accidents.

Stephanie Behring, Miss Southland, The Wheelchair FoundationOne of the most heartwarming stories from our distribution happened at our first distribution in Arusha. I had just placed this 8-year-old boy who had been paralyzed his entire life into a wheelchair when I asked the young girl next to him if she was his sister. She spoke English and told me she had been practicing so that she could thank us properly.

She took hold of both of my hands with tears in her eyes as she looked at me and said, “He is my best friend. We are best friends. We dreamed of the day that he could have his own wheelchair. I pushed him 35 miles for this. He is my best friend and now he is free to play on his own.”

You best bet I lost it at that moment.

One of the most incredible things I noticed in Africa was the immense sense of family and love that Africans have for one another. At these distributions you see family members who have taken care of the recipient for years, sometimes even decades. For example, at the Monduli Rehab Centre I met a recipient who was 104 (yes, 104) years old who had been taken care of by her son for over 40 years. Her son said that the government doesn’t provide healthcare and hospitals refused to give her a wheelchair because they didn’t believe it was necessary.

So for 40 years, he took care of his mother.

This blog post doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the joy and gratitude that these wheelchair distributions provide. For my readers who have never been on a wheelchair distribution, it is one of the most life-changing experiences. I don’t even know how to describe what it feels like to place someone in a wheelchair- to give them independence, hope, mobility, and a new lease on life by providing a simple seat and 4 wheels.

Nothing in my life has been as rewarding as not only being able to provide the funds for 2 containers of wheelchairs, but also to be able to distribute the wheelchairs with my family. I am forever grateful.

As I did when I was 14, I once again left my heart in Africa.

There is No Art Without Joy- Miss San Joaquin County

Michael-ChekhovFamed actor and theatrical craftsman Michael Chekhov believed that the creation of art was intrinsically linked with the inherent beauty of infinite human possibility. I knew from my first exposure to his brilliant acting technique that I had found something meaningful in my journey as an artist. What I did not know, however, was that I had found something life-changing.

The technique, despite being riddled with seemingly indecipherable psychophysical intellectual jargon, is elegantly simple at its core. Drop into any Chekhov-centered acting class, and you will hear two words echo through the rehearsal space: Imagination; Concentration. Chekhov teaches us that to be artists, we must believe that we already are artists. This mindset- that to accomplish, one must view themselves as having already succeeded- has changed my perception of myself as a creative individual, a student, and an ambitious young woman. I go so far as to credit this viewpoint as being the very reason I am able to graciously represent my community as a titleholder today.

Katie-Elson-Miss-San-Joaquin-County-BlogIn his manifesto To the Actor, Chekhov writes that four elements must be at the center of any artistic endeavor. He refers to them as the proverbial “Four Brothers” (a play-on the plays of his famous uncle, Anton Chekhov). They include: a feeling of ease, a feeling of form, a feeling of entirety, and a feeling of beauty. These feelings must be radiated from within, and if one element is lacking, the entire creation (“creation” here meaning anything from a single movement of the human body to an entire symphony orchestra concert) will not succeed. Though they sound initially complicated, they are beautifully practical. Ease allows us to move and radiate lightness, peace, and grace from within. Entirety allows us to remember that whatever our endeavor, we are always working toward a larger goal. Form keeps us focused and concentrating on our next move and. Finally, Beauty (often translated to “joy”), reminds us that with all we do, we must feel a warmth and a happiness in our work. It is the presence of these four elements in all of my work, artistic or otherwise, that has truly helped me gain new insight on my abilities in my art as well as my day-to-day life.

So yes, armed with my yoga mat and well-loved copy of To the Actor, each week I delve into hours of Chekhovian study. I transform my body into a human speaker to produce “sloth-like sounds;” I “move and seethe” through a sharp and angular invisible plane; I take “sacred naps” as I allow myself to relate my five senses to my immediate surroundings; and I even cross an imaginary threshold into a sensory realm that Chekhov calls “the Higher Ego.” These odd terms and goofy-sounding exercises may seem to the outsider merely a reflection of the stereotypical “flighty artist,” but, upon closer look, are all executed with purpose and with meaning. At the very heart of Chekhov, he invites us to radiate. From within the heart and soul of ourselves, we emit light, beauty, joy and the very best of who we are. That concept, whether it be applied to a working actor, a titleholder, a student, or a career professional, makes Chekhov universally beautiful. I end by inviting each and every one of my sister titleholders to practice radiating in all they do, for we are blessed with the ability to shine inside and out. Chekhov believed that we ourselves are art, and, as he famously said, “there is no art without joy.”

Rayna Patel | Miss Yorba Linda

Rayna Patel Miss Yorba Linda Bollywood DanceHello! My name is Rayna Patel and I am Miss Yorba Linda 2018. I am so excited to have the opportunity to serve my hometown this year, and support my community in every way possible. I am currently 17 years old and a second semester senior at Valencia High School. Throughout my four years of high school, a lot has changed in my life but one thing has always stayed constant: my passion for Bollywood Dance. I have been doing Bollywood Dance for 12 years now, and my love for this unique dance style grows more everyday. Bollywood comes from the combination of two things: Bombay and Hollywood. It includes the unique, cultural texture of India’s classical and folk dances with elements of jazz, hip hop, Arabic, and Latin forms. I love Bollywood because while it so cultural, it is also very diverse and includes many other dance forms. No matter one’s ethnicity, gender, or age, everyone can connect through Bollywood Dance! It is a true gift to be able to have something that can Rayna Patel Miss Yorba Lindaincorporate all kinds of people.

Bollywood Dance has always been my escape from reality; I feel like my true personality and passion is shown through each of my performances. Especially in today’s generation, it is so easy for one to lose touch with their roots and background; but Bollywood has been my constant reminder of my culture and religion. Dancing at the largest Bollywood school in the nation brought not only the gift of dance and cultural appreciation- but also many life long skills, such as cooperation, dedication, time-management, compassion, and perseverance. I truly would not be who I am today if it weren’t for Bollywood Dance!

Rayna Patel Miss Yorba LindaAt our dance school, we teach dance. But we wanted to do more than that! So, we launched the NDM Bollywood Outreach Program, a non-profit organization with a mission to inspire, connect and empower our students through community service! NDMBOP works to inspire active volunteerism in both local and global communities. We engage students through our philosophy to “Live, Love, Dance, and Serve” our community needs and to provide our students a voice through more than just their dancing capabilities. I am so grateful to be a part of the Student Body this year and have an active role as Secretary! Some events we’ve done include teaching Bollywood Dance to senior citizens, make sleeping mats for homeless veterans, beach clean-ups, teaching the Hindu culture and dance form to children with special needs, and more! I hold this program so close to my heart because it combines two of my favorite things: Bollywood and Service. I’m ecstatic that we found a way to express Bollywood dance while also giving back to the community.

I am so excited to be able to share my love for Bollywood on the Miss California stage for my Talent! Through my piece, you will see the true beauty the Indian culture embodies, and my modern yet classical take on it. I’m so excited for this once in a lifetime opportunity to compete for the title of Miss California, and I cannot wait to represent my hometown in June! I am honored to be Miss Yorba Linda 2018, and I cannot wait for what’s to come this year, and the plans I will manifest. Follow @missyorbalinda on Instagram to keep up with my journey throughout the year!

The Science of Sound- Katie Wayland

 

An apprehension engine makes some of your favorite sounds in scary movies!

An apprehension engine makes some of your favorite sounds in scary movies!

I’m Katie Wayland, Miss Orange Coast, and I work in Audio Production! My interest for this field began non-traditionally as a child who simply loved scary movies. Sound design is truly an art form, as evidenced by one of my favorite tools: “The Apprehension Machine”, or “The Nightmare Machine”. This was a custom-built instrument by composer Mark Korven for the purposes of creating those haunting noises in all of your favorite scary movies. Instruments like this (homemade machines creating indecipherable noises) are what make this such an accessible craft.

 

Glory Days at Orange Lutheran

Glory Days at Orange Lutheran

I began fiddling (pun intended) with unique instruments at a young age, including my recorder, accordion, miniature harpsichord, xylophone, vibraphone, marimba and glockenspiel. I would set up microphones facing stereo speakers to amplify and manipulate sound, mostly waging psychological warfare on my parents and siblings with my now worn down “Elvis: The Greatest Hits” CD.

I am currently an audio editor at Wayland Productions, employed by my extremely talented (and patient) brother, Kc Wayland! (It’s not nepotism if you complete the internship program.) Kc got his start in animation, working his way to being a well-respected writer, producer, engineer, and educator. We began working together when I wrote the opening score to his audio drama (We’re Alive: A “Zombie” Story of Survival) at the age of 15 using the most rudimentary of tools to create a haunting vaudeville/post-apocalyptic melody using my out-of-tune piano, and a broken guitar.

Creating in the studio

Creating in the studio

I am so grateful for the scholarships I have earned at the local and state levels of the Miss America Organization, which have funded my entire education; from community college all the way to studying Independent Music Production in the extension program at the University of California, Los Angeles!

With my background in music, and love of technology, this career is a natural fit. It is at the intersection of STEM and the arts, giving me the perfect niche to utilize two skill sets, and create unique sounds every single day.

Jacqueline Wibowo Miss San Jose

Photo Courtesy of Larry Sacks

In the last 3 weeks since I became Miss San Jose, there’s a couple questions and comments I’ve gotten over and over again. They sound something like this:

  • But it’s your senior year, don’t you want to relax?
  • Oh, so that’s the thing where you walk around in a bikini right?
  • I like the crown. Your instagram pictures are so cute!

When people think of the Miss America program, they tend to remember only the surface level things they see on TV. To be honest, just a couple months ago, I may have asked the same questions of another titleholder.

I’ve been privileged to know quite a few titleholders throughout my life, some who started in the Outstanding Teen Program and some who have been on the Miss America stage. I always saw the beautiful social media posts – sleeping with the crown the night after you win a title, having hair and makeup done by a glamorous sponsor, getting to cut ribbons here and there for a community event. But, if that were all there was to it, I would also find myself asking the infamous question – How is Miss America still relevant in today’s society?

I have found that in just less than three weeks, my role as a titleholder has helped me truly reevaluate my values and align my goals with them. I believe that preparing for every single competition stage of Miss California is not about chasing a crown – it is about reflecting on what the best version of yourself looks like, and then setting goals over the next few months to become that you.

Interview

Many people don’t know that an interview is a part of the scoring, because it happens before the onstage part of the show. Each contestant interviews with a panel of 5 judges. Here’s a sample of questions I got in my interview:
Why did you decide to compete?
Your platform is SheEO’s – Women in Leadership, what would you say to the argument that women are just not as suited to leadership roles because of certain biological factors?
What do you think about all the recent news stories regarding sexual assault?
What should the US do about the Opioid Crisis?
What have you done in your community for your platform already?

As you can see, the questions really span the gamut – from why you would be the best titleholder, platform-related questions, to random current events questions.

I love that this is a huge chunk of our score, because every young adult will have to interview for something – whether for jobs or college. Having worked on Wall Street for the last 2 summers, I’ve personally been through my share of what some people would consider the most rigorous and selective interview processes for fresh graduates. But, I will be the first to tell you that despite having interviewed with some of the top executives in finance and Silicon Valley, I find Miss America interviews much more intimidating. I think it’s much easier to memorize technical terms and practice walking someone through your resume or answering how you would work in a team. Professional job interviews tend to be predictable.

In a pageant interview, your judges are looking to find someone who a community can both relate to and look up to, and ultimately the best ambassador for the program. This is why it is so important for a contestant to be up to date with current events, to have opinions but convey them respectfully, and at the same time be someone that could be best friends with an 8 year old girl. Preparing for these interviews requires me to think very carefully about my personal qualities and how I best want to market them. I truly think that this is a skill that many job interviews do not teach you.

Talent

Talent is my chance to share something I love with a full house. Contestants are judged on technical ability and performance, among other qualities. I’ve definitely heard people ask why Talent is a part of the scoring, stating that you don’t need an onstage talent to be a good representative.

However, I think it is so important for every individual to have something that they do just because they love it, unrelated to academics or their career. I absolutely love classical music – I’ve found that playing piano makes me happier, relieves stress, and increases my focus throughout my day. Unfortunately, when I got busy in college, it was one of the first activities I cut out of my life. My freshman year, I was lucky enough to be a part of an a cappella group, but I eventually gave that up when classes ramped up my sophomore year.

Thanks to my involvement in the Miss America organization, I’ve rediscovered my love for playing the piano, and am also motivated to schedule it into my calendar just as I would a class.

Lifestyle and Fitness

At the mention of the swimsuit category, many people in the audience – and even contestants – might squirm a bit. It’s the category that motivates comments that the program is misogynistic and objectifies women. We could spend a ton of time debating these points, but today I’d like to focus on the positive impact this category has had on my life.

Like playing the piano, health and fitness often suffers at the expense of other activities in my daily college life. There was a point in time where I wasn’t getting enough sleep and would eat mozzarella sticks at Stanford’s late night dining at least three times a week. To counterbalance this, I would sometimes skip meals. I naturally have a more petite physique, so on the outside, most people would still say I looked healthy. However, I found myself unable to focus in class and more stressed than ever.

The Lifestyle and Fitness category has given me steady motivation to work toward until June. Because I am representing a community, I want to look healthy and confident at Miss California, and to do that, I will make time for workouts every week, regardless of how busy I am. Whether or not I have a six pack by that time, I want to be proud of my progress and look confident and healthy, not sleep deprived or malnourished.

And let me tell you, from just being more cognizant of what I’m eating and fitting in a few workouts a week, I feel so much better and refreshed already.

Onstage Question

Jacqueline Wibowo Miss San Jose Onstage Question

Photo Courtesy of Larry Sacks

In this stage, contestants are given a random question that they do not know in advance, and have about 30 seconds to answer it in front of the judges and the audience. I think that a lot of people don’t know that we really have no idea what we will be asked, and do not have answers prepared in advance.

I’m not alone in thinking that this is the scariest part of the competition. After all, think about all the YouTube videos referencing “Maps” that go viral for all the wrong reasons. If you’ve seen these types of videos, I urge you to try to understand the pressure contestants are under before you make any judgments.

I think this stage prepares you very well for unpredictable situations you might face as a titleholder. Whether it’s a 4 year old or a news reporter that comes up to you, you never really know what someone might ask you. It’s great practice to know how to react calmly and give an articulate opinion on any subject under the sun.

As a senior soon to graduate, I’ve thought more and more about what the future might hold, but I’m thankful that I have some practice dealing with uncertainty.

Evening Gown

This is a contestant’s chance to feel the most beautiful she has ever felt in her life – walking down the stage in an evening gown of her choice. It’s not the dress however, that gets judged – it’s the overall impression of the girl wearing it. As a college student in the Bay Area, I often don’t dedicate enough time to self care. After all, Stanford is known for its chill culture – chill meaning rolling out of bed at 9:20 am for a 9:30 am class, sometimes in the same clothes you wore to sleep. Fun as this is, as a Christian, I truly believe that the bodies God created us with are meant to be honored and respected, to reflect our inner beauty.

Jacqueline Wibowo Crowned Miss San Jose

Photo Courtesy of Larry Sacks

Whenever you meet someone new in any setting, the first judgment they will make about you will be based on how you look. As objective as we try to be, we are all only human, and our first impressions will inevitably be affected by the first things our eyes see. People see you before you even open your mouth to speak.

I don’t mean to say that appearance is everything, or that it is more important than your internal qualities – but I do think it’s worth taking some extra time to dress and groom for an occasion – whether it is an interview or a cocktail party. Your personal style is a reflection of your personality, and I have found that taking some extra time to get ready in the morning gives me more confidence to take on the day. So, I do think it’s important for every woman to take some time to think about how she wants to create her first impression – whether that is by how she dresses or how she carries herself.

There you have it – the 5 stages of competition and why they’ve motivated me to give everything I have to improving myself in the next few months. Not to mention, I won about $2,000 at my local competition in scholarships and am guaranteed more scholarships by competing in Miss California. I am so excited for the rest of my year.

If you aren’t already, follow my journey on instagram @misssanjose_ca and my Facebook page – Miss San Jose Jacqueline Wibowo.