Account Me In- Miss Culver City

Monica Stainer Miss Culver CityHello Everyone!! I am Monica Stainer and I am a 24-year-old graduate of the University of Southern California working at a Big Four Accounting Firm. I am so excited to represent beautiful Culver City at Miss California this June!

As a little girl, I always knew I wanted to work in accounting or finance. I vividly remember waking up at 6:30am every morning, watching the Stock Market’s opening bell with my Dad, and naming off the companies in the S&P 500 and NASDAQ as the ticker symbols went by. There were definitely some interesting reactions when I was an elementary school girl saying that I wanted to be an accountant, rather than the typical response of a doctor, astronaut, or an actress; but I didn’t let that stop me. I wanted to prove that girls can be in finance too.

For Christmas, most teenagers ask for the newest iPhone, a car, or new clothes for school, but I asked for responsibility – I wanted my own credit card. I made a spreadsheet of my babysitting and tutoring earnings and proved to my parents that I could be responsible and pay for my meals and activities in-full every month. For Christmas that year, I was given a bag with an item that felt like a small piece of plastic. With extreme excitement, I opened the bag and found a $50 Gas Card. My parents told me to look for the lucky penny in the bag’s side pocket, which is a tradition my family engages in – and there it was – my own credit card! I quickly realized that this was not as glamorous as it seemed because I had to actively budget my spending, say “no” to costly luxuries, and meet payment deadlines, but I took pride in my responsibility (and haven’t missed a payment of the full balance to date!).Monica Stainer Miss Culver City

The following year, my childhood dreams started becoming a reality when I was accepted into the University of Southern California’s Leventhal School of Accounting as an Accounting Major, but my dreams were almost shattered when the reality of tuition started sinking in. Through the over $8,000 in scholarships I earned as Miss California’s Outstanding Teen, a rigorous academic course load and a lot of hard work, I was able to graduate from a five-year program (Accounting Degree with CPA Eligibility) in three-an-a-half years and was offered a full time job at a Big Four Accounting Firm.

Working in Corporate America, I’ve found that I still get interesting reactions when I tell people I’m an accountant – and now, that makes me proud. I am proud to be a woman in finance, proud to be auditing financial statements to validate that companies are reporting their financials accurately, proud to be participating in meetings with Corporate Controllers, CFOs, and CEOs, and most of all, proud of myself for achieving my goals and aiming higher for the future. I hope to continue breaking barriers and sharing my knowledge with younger generations just as my role models: Cathy Englebert, CEO of Deloitte, Mellody Hobson, President of Ariel Investments (and my Commencement Speaker at USC), and Ruth Porat, CFO of Alphabet/Google, have shared.

Monica Stainer Miss Culver CityBecause both of my parents had experience in the finance industry, I learned to budget, watch my spending, avoid debt, and become financially independent at an early age. Unfortunately, not everyone has these resources and personal finance courses are also not required in our California schools under the current 2018 Standards. My parents were (and still are) my heroes, especially when it comes to finance, and I hope that I can use my personal and professional experience to be a financial hero for our youth through my platform, Banking on Our Future.  

Along with my success thus far, I’ve learned that my dreams are constantly evolving. How can I use my knowledge and experience to give back to our community and our youth? What if I used “Miss” and “Corporate” interchangeably, rather than just being a part of Corporate America?

They say, “Money Makes the World Go Around” and as Miss Culver City and in my many years beyond the Miss America Organization I will continue to serve and promote financial literacy through my platform and organizations like Operation Hope’s Banking on Our Future program, so the next generation can understand how we keep this beautiful world of ours turning.

Thank you all so much for reading and following my journey of how I selected my platform through Scholarship, Success, Service, and always with Style 😉

With Love,

Monica Stainer

Miss Culver City 2018

Miss Culver City: Be Yourself!

Hi! My name is Cristina Bequer and I am proudly representing Culver City this year at Miss California.  When you ask most people if they have ever been teased, more than likely their answer will be yes.  If you ask someone if they have ever teased someone, again their answer will probably be yes.  If so many people have been affected by teasing or bullying, why do we continue to do it?  I would like to share my personal experience with bullying.

Cristina-Bequer-Miss-Culver-City-2I remember when I was little, I would change my opinion or beliefs in order to fit in.  I thought if I said and did the same thing others would do, I would be “popular.”  This never really worked and I remember crying because I felt left out.  I quickly realized that I needed to be myself, and as I got older I grew more confident.  I kept myself busy with various activities and I started finding the ones I really enjoyed.  I learned to portray myself as a confident individual due to my success in some of my activities.  I was actively involved in dance, piano, 4-H, kung-fu, and any sport that was offered in my town.

Cristina-Bequer-Miss-Culver-City-3When I started high school I started to get bullied.  Thankfully not in a physical way, however I was bullied by adults.  I was excluded from activities, told that I deserved to fail, and told I wasn’t meant to play a certain sport and should probably quit the team.  I am thankful that I had as much family support as I did, because they kept my head up and encouraged me to stick to the things I enjoyed doing.  I loved 4-H and when I got into the ring, I knew that I had to portray confidence in order to place well.  The year that I won first in advanced goat showmanship, I was approached afterwards by the Miss Blythe directors.  They asked me if I was interested in competing in the Miss Blythe’s Outstanding Teen pageant.   I had never thought of myself as a pageant girl, I didn't know how to walk in heels, do my makeup or own a ton of dresses.  But I decided to give it a shot and I ended up winning my first pageant.  I had no idea how much of an impact the Miss America Organization would have on my life.
Cristina-Bequer-Miss-Culver-CityOver the last few years I have had the opportunity to hold three titles (Miss Blythe’s Outstanding Teen 2012, Miss Blythe 2014, and Miss Culver City 2015.)  Not only have I learned the confidence in myself, but I also realize that this job allows you to be a role model and public figure.  You have the opportunity to make a difference during your year of service.  I was able to gain confidence by being involved with different activities and clubs.  I learned from a young age that service is very important.  This is why I choose my platform of Youth Volunteering.  Not only am I able to work with children to build confidence, but I get them involved, have them try new things and also make new friends.

I will admit that I was never popular throughout school.  I wasn’t the cheerleader or the star athlete (the stereotypical people who I thought had their lives together and wanted to emulate.)  Instead I was myself, and looking back I wouldn’t want to be anyone else.   Throughout my young life I have learned that it is more important to be yourself because there is no one else like you.  We each have something unique that we have to offer.

One last thing about bullies-and this is important.  If you or someone you know is being hurt by a bully, get help.  Your parents, guardians, school counselor, neighbor, administration at your school, basically any trusted adult can help you get it to stop.  Don’t put up with any type of abuse.  You are worth protecting.