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Read Across America With Angela Laird!

Angela-Laird-Miss-Contra-Costa-1Hi everyone! I am Angela Laird, Miss Contra Costa County 2015. In honor of Dr. Seuss’s birthday today, I wanted to talk to you about the importance of education, reading, and never giving up. My mother has been an elementary school teacher for almost 25 years. Now, growing up with a teacher for a mom wasn’t always easy. You most likely had extra homework during the summer, and you couldn’t get away with anything bad at school because your teacher would talk about you to your mom in the teacher’s lounge. Regardless of the downsides, I would not change my mom’s profession for anything. Her passion for education has given me a passion for education and learning. From a young age, I was taught to read from Dr. Seuss books. By learning how to read early, I was given an educational advantage. Reading just 20 minutes a day can help improve writing skills, listening skills, and can help to expand your vocabulary. Reading is the foundation of learning.

While it’s not my platform, encouraging children to read is a duty that I have taken on as Miss Contra Costa County. Being heavily influenced by my mother’s love for education, I can’t help but take a role in bettering the education of my community’s children. I have a working partnership with my county’s library, and just the other day I was given the opportunity to read at one of our local libraries as a guest storyteller. I loved watching the children’s faces light up as I turned the page and to watch them so enthralled by a story brought a smile to my face.

Angela-Laird-Miss-Contra-Costa-2As we celebrate Dr. Seuss’s birthday, also known as “Read Across America Day”, it is worthwhile to remember his perseverance. Dr. Seuss, whose real name was Theodor Geisel, tried to get his first book And to Think I Saw it On Mulberry Street published 27 times and each time it was rejected. To me, he is a role model and shows that you should never give up on a dream. Can you imagine what our schools would be like if he had given up?

One day, I hope to follow in Dr. Seuss’s footsteps and write my own book. Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook asks, “What could you do if you were unafraid?” and with the confidence I’ve gained through the Miss America Organization and my love of reading, I will one day be a published author in the genre of fiction. I am unafraid of failing because we can achieve whatever we put our minds to! Thank you, Dr. Seuss, for inspiring us and teaching us to love reading. Happy birthday, Dr. Seuss!

xoxo Miss Contra Costa County

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!

Hugs,

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