Doing the Impossible- Miss Santa Clara

“Start by doing what is necessary, then do what is possible, and soon you will be doing the impossible.”

Taylor Yamane crowned Miss Santa ClaraI had never competed in a pageant before. This was my first time, and it took so much of my courage to apply because it felt like such a risk. I watched Miss America every year since I was a little girl, but never in a million years did I think I would participate in a pageant, let alone actually win one! I never thought I was skinny enough or a nerdy engineer like me belonged in the pageant world. I realized, I have spent my entire life breaking down walls that people put up before me, and this pageant could be my chance to change even more stereotypes.

I grew up on a farm in a small town in eastern Washington. I was raised by my farmer father, who is full Japanese, and my mother who is Irish, French, and Native American. It is safe to say my town had a very small Asian population. One day in kindergarten, a girl came up to me and told me that I wasn’t allowed to play with my fair-skinned, blond, and blue-eyed friends because my hair and my skin were too dark. Obviously in kindergarten, I never thought of myself as different from the other kids, but at that moment I realized I was different. I didn’t look like the other kids I went to school with, and my home life and traditions were much different than those of my friends (I was shocked when I found out not everyone had a rice cooker in their house!). As I got older, these differences become more prominent and easy for me to recognize. I decided to embrace those differences instead of letting them hold me back.

Taylor Yamane Miss Santa ClaraI was stereotyped a lot especially during middle school and high school, but I did not want to live in a world where I was inhibited by the social confines of what people thought I should and should not be good at just because of my appearance. I was the girl who sang the national anthem for her own varsity basketball games and track meets. I was a 5’3” hurdler in high school and a dang good one too! I was a district champion, a state qualifier, and I would beat girls in the high hurdlers who were 6 feet tall, with legs as tall as me, and built like hurdlers. People looked at me like I was crazy when I said I wanted to run the hurdles because I was so short. I also auditioned for and the received the part of the red-headed Annie in our high school’s musical production of Annie when I was a sophomore! I received so many funny looks when I told people I would be playing Annie in our high school’s musical until they heard me sing. Even coming to college in California, where the culture is so diverse with so many people from all walks of life, I was still felt set apart from the crowd as a female engineering student. I had to fight for my respect here and to show that women are just as smart and talented as men in STEM fields. I have decided no matter what people say, I am going to live my own life and accomplish the things that I want to accomplish and not let anything stand in my way.

Taylor Yamane HurdlesI had to use this same mentality when competing for Miss Santa Clara. My engineering friends thought I was joking when I said I would be competing in a pageant. They did not think a pageant was a place for engineers because they only thought of pageants as a competition to see who is prettier and can do their makeup the best when it is SO much more than that! It is a scholarship program where anyone who wants to compete can, and anyone can have the chance to win. With my title, I want to break down the walls and stereotypes that come with the word “pageant”. I am the last person I ever thought would win a pageant, and I want people to know that you can be an engineer and still wear the crown. I plan to use my title as Miss Santa Clara to share my story and show that if this small-town, farm girl can become an engineer AND Miss Santa Clara, then absolutely nothing is impossible with hard work and dedication!

Miss Santa Clara- My Personal Philosophy

Value the present. Live free of tension, full of love, happiness and laughter. Be a lifelong learner. Embody dedication and uniqueness. Create. 

Hello all! For those of you who have not met me in person or even virtually, my name is Jessa Carmack and I have the great honor of representing the city of Santa Clara this year.

In late 2014-early 2015 I was the Communications Intern for the mobile gaming company who has brought you the popular games FarmVille and Words With Friends, Zynga. During my internship with Zynga I was tasked to create my own personal philosophy. A personal philosophy is your life motto, quote or simply, words that express who you are as a person. It can be one word, five words, ten words, but it cannot be longer than 25 words.

When I first sat down at my computer to write my personal philosophy, I found it very difficult to keep it to 25 words or less. I decided to jot down words that describe myself, characteristics I admire in others and characteristics that I want to live up to. Eventually I came up with my personal philosophy:

Value the present. Live free of tension, full of love, happiness and laughter. Be a lifelong learner. Embody dedication and uniqueness. Create.

JessalaughValue the present. I lead off my personal philosophy with this short statement because I find the present incredibly important. I think a struggle that many individuals have is to stay in their present self. Many times we may let the past or even future get to us and because of this, we are not able to enjoy what is going on in the present moment 100%.

Live free of tension, full of love, happiness and laughter. This sentence is how I’ve always enjoyed living and how I would like to live the rest of my life. Tension and stress are unnecessary factors that creep up in everyday life. It is important to brush these distractions off your shoulder. When you live full of love, happiness and laughter, you will remain in the best version of yourself. The people that love me best know how much I love to laugh 😉

Jessa.sjsuBe a lifelong learner. I find this the most important part of my personal philosophy. I love and embrace learning. Whether it is at school, at work, in a conversation, observing, etc., learning is what I find as the most essential aspect in life. The more I can learn, about anything and everything, the more diverse of a person I can become and the more I can understand the world.

Embody dedication and uniqueness. Dedication is one of my strongest traits that I have always valued. In my life, through dedication, I can do anything. Uniqueness is what sets one person apart from the rest. We are all unique and it is our responsibility to embody it.

Jessa.CreateSpecialMomentsLastly, create. I conclude my personal philosophy with this single word because it is powerful. In every aspect of my life, my goal is to create. For example, through the Miss America Program I would like to create change. Change that will better our world, and specifically with my platform, Building A Healthy Future. In my everyday life I want to create conversations, friendships, smiles, bonds, special moments, volunteerism, pretty much anything that can leave a lasting mark on an individual. If I had to summarize my personal philosophy into one word, it would be- create.

I challenge you to begin thinking of your own personal philosophy. Begin to jot down your initial ideas and eventually it will come together. A very important thing to remember is your personal philosophy is not engraved in stone, as it may evolve alongside of you. Every so often read it and make sure it represents the person you are and want to be. Do not be afraid to change it from time to time. If one day you read it and the words do not reflect who you are anymore, create a new one.

Jessa Carmack

Miss Santa Clara 2015

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