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Heroes Do Not Always Wear Capes: Sometimes They Wear Camo

Hello everyone! It’s Madison – Miss Inland Empire – here again. When I signed up to write this blog I had a different topic in mind but after my Memorial Day weekend, I have decided to take my blog in a different direction. Hopefully you enjoy it!

10421384_799216216860298_7371693171326213168_nI am no stranger to the sacrifices our military makes, I was born and raised in the United States of America and grew up with a Grandfather who served in the Air Force long before my time. I always understood why we should support and be proud of our military but when my Grandpa suddenly passed away, I was 6 years old, I was devastated. I, did however, find consolation in the memorial service my family held for him. He was buried in a National Cemetery and my grandmother received the American flag in remembrance of him and the dedication he had for his country. Even though my family history embraced serving in the military, I never really comprehended the magnitude of holidays such as Veterans Day, Armed Forces Day, and more recently Memorial Day.

10986427_799216133526973_9083342562060118721_nThis Memorial Day weekend, I spent the day at the Riverside National Cemetery where I experienced my first flag placing ceremony. Myself along with a couple thousand other people placed 186,000 flags – one on the tombstone of every hero who was laid to rest in that cemetery. About an hour into placing flags I found myself overcome with emotion, I was reading the names on every stone that I placed a flag and I couldn’t help but think about the family that soldier left behind to dedicate his life to his country. I can never pay back the sacrifices these soldiers make.

11111621_799215980193655_9159713188601339586_nI have celebrated and honored 21 Memorial Days in my lifetime but I never truly understood exactly what we, as a country, were celebrating. Of course I knew it was to honor our fallen soldiers but now I see it as paying tribute to heroes. Heroes that gave everything so that I can wake up and go to school, or type this blog, or speak my mind without any form of persecution.

11138663_799215856860334_5155502178354211771_nThis was also the first Memorial Day where I was unable to contact some of my friends in the military (due to training/deployment) to thank them for their service. Having friends so close to me make such a massive sacrifice astonishes me. My friends in the Armed Forces are some of the most selfless people I am blessed to know. I am thankful that all my friends have, so far, come home but so many of their comrades have not. For the ones who do not come home I now understand that they would not want us to mourn but to live the dream they died fighting for.

IMG_3964So in closing, I want to thank Mary (the Flag Placing Ceremony coordinator) for allowing me to partake in such a humbling, beautiful, and wonderful experience. For everyone who has a friend or loved on in the service please call them, hug them, and most importantly thank them. For those of you who are mourning the loss of a hero, please know that they were not laid to rest in vain; but that I am thankful for their sacrifice everyday, and can only continue to honor the life they lived for it took an amazing person to give of themselves so selflessly, for what is truly the greatest nation in the world.

See you next time,

Madison

Miss Inland Empire 2015

 

 

 

Miss Inland Empire- Women in STEM

Hi again! For those of you who did not get a chance to read my first blog, let me re-introduce myself, I am Madison Givens, Miss Inland Empire and I am so excited to be blogging for the second time.

Science has limitless possibilities and endless discoveries. In the words of Carl Sagan, “Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.”

FullSizeRenderI recently started my third quarter of college classes this year and I am taking a heavy course load in science and mathematics. One thing I noticed is that being a female, in the biochemistry department of my school is scarce. This has caused me to reflect on the STEM program and our former Miss California 2013, Crystal Lee’s platform of Women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). I was fortunate enough to have been encouraged to follow my passion and enter the sciences at a young age, but many young girls do not have the same opportunity that I was given.

I met a “nutty professor” on one particular field trip with my school during my 8th grade studies. We went on a four-day intensive academic retreat to a university. I experienced the opportunity to sample college life complete with intriguing classes, enlightened professors, crazy students, diverse dorms and a cafeteria filled with food that my mother never let me eat.

I clearly remember a science class and a unique professor who reminded me of, Doc Brown, from Back to the Future. He had the hair of Albert Einstein, the brain of Sir Isaac Newton and the passion of Leonardo Da Vinci. He had tie-dyed his lab coat and incorporated himself into his experiments. His eccentricity is the reason why his class was so intriguing. I remember him blowing things up and setting things on fire through spontaneous combustion; he even used common household items to show the difference in the types of friction.

Explosion after explosion, I became increasingly fascinated with the world of science this mad professor transported me to. This crazy science lab taught me that science is never black and white; it will never fit into a “cookie cutter” shape.

During this four-day retreat I realized that science was the subject for me. As my studies continued I found that science went far beyond the humor of that professor. My honors Anatomy and Physiology teacher, Mrs. Stevens, taught me that science is not just a matter of chemical reactions occurring in a confined lab, but something that infiltrates everyday life. Science encompasses, the seen and the unseen, the known and the unknown.

The one thing that both these professors taught me is that science (or any other currently male dominated subject) is something for everyone, the subject matter cannot, and does not, discriminate, therefore, we should be allowing all children to have the opportunity to experience what I did. In order to interest young women in pursuing male dominated career fields we must first allow them to experiment and experience science, technology, engineering, and mathematics first hand and we need to be supporting these types of programs at a young age.

IMG_3239Had it not been for those opportunities and those two professors I may never have felt encouraged to enter the field of science. In conclusion, had it not been for Crystal and the Miss America Organization then the doubts I felt about my scientific path might have taken the upper hand and I would not have had the empowerment and encouragement from accomplished women, that I look up to, in this wonderful organization.

Thanks for reading!

Love,
Madison

Miss Inland Empire 2015

Miss Inland Empire: From a Wheelchair to the Stage

From a Wheelchair to the Miss California Stage:

Miss Inland Empire’s Story of Hope, Determination, and Inspiration

“Every adversity… every heartache carries with it the seed on an equal or greater benefit.” ~Nathan Hill

So often we are told to cherish those closest to us, and to live everyday as if it were our last. Most times those words are said in vain but for me those words have become a way of life. I live everyday as if it were my last because I was told five years ago that I had taken my last step, said my last word, and potentially took my last breath.

Hello my name is Madison Givens and I have the amazing honor of representing my home as Miss Inland Empire 2015. My title and journey to Miss California has given me the opportunity to share my story, touch, inspire and save lives.

Five years ago I was a 4.0 student, a nationally and internationally recognized dancer, aspiring to be a doctor and in the prime of my life. In a matter of seconds, all of my dreams came to a screeching halt. I was involved in a life threatening cheerleading accident that led to a sports acquired traumatic brain injury, which fractured my skull, tore my dura-membrane sack causing a spinal fluid leak, known as CSF Rhinorrhea. As a result, my brain herniated downward, also called a Chiari Malformation, and I lost the ability to walk and talk. I spent a year in bed rehabilitating. Doctors call me a walking miracle!

When most people hear my story their initial reaction is one of sorrow or helplessness, and my goal is to remove that stigma and bring hope. While I am considered a disabled American, I do not feel like that label defines me. Since my injuries I have found a true calling, and have flourished with the help of the Miss America Organization. I have gained scholarships in order to continue my education, I have gained confidence in my public speaking skills and most importantly I have made life-long friendships, the people I have met, through the organization, are some of my biggest supporters! I have also created a traumatic brain injury prevention program called, The Green Helmet Campaign. My programs main goal is to one day eradicate all traumatic brain injuries but for the time being, its purpose is education, prevention, and inspiration.

After going through the trauma of my head injury and struggling to accomplish life’s simplest tasks; I realize the importance of educating others. My case shows the imminent need for advancements in diagnostic research. Today, after five years of rehabilitation and research, The Green Helmet Campaign has come to fruition. Numerous medical care providers, coaches, athletes and parents aided in the culmination of this amazing endeavor.

Hope for the world comes through the gifts and abilities of those who care. Every thing happens for a reason and I believe that I went through my injuries in order to have the opportunity to instill hope in others, disabled or not. I now see my injuries as a gift because they have allowed me the opportunity to have a platform that I can whole-heartedly embrace and more importantly my injuries have allowed me to reach others. This is not to say that my injuries were not horrific, because they were, but more importantly it is pointing towards the amazing fact that I can be a voice and bring hope to others. No one should ever have to experience what I did; and I hope that I can serve as an inspiration to those suffering from any type of illness, or disease. My Green Helmet Campaign is proof that nothing is impossible. My campaign has not only been a tool for me to help assist others but it has also helped me through the healing process. By using my testimony, and platform it has helped me connect and find others who have similar stories. Through our stories we can accomplish so much.

In closing one of my favorite quotes by author Albert Pine, “What you do for yourself dies with you, what you do for others and the world remains and is immortal” This quote embodies exactly what my Green Helmet Campaign’s purpose is.

Thank you for reading! Be sure to check out the videos below and take a look at my website www.greenhelmetcampaign.com, like us on Facebook, Instagram (@greenhelmetcampaign), and Twitter (@greenhelmet9)!

 

Love,

Madison Givens

Miss Inland Empire 2015