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Miss Solano: Who are the co-pilots in my life?

Arielle Sumilhig being crowned Miss Solano 2015 by Miss Solano 2014 Ansya Islam

Arielle Sumilhig being crowned Miss Solano 2015 by Miss Solano 2014 Ansya Islam

Greetings from Solano County! My name is Arielle Sumilhig, the recently crowned Miss Solano 2015. I am a full-time student at Sacramento State and middle school math tutor/college and career club advisor. I have the pleasure of meeting so many middle school students with different: dreams, goals, personalities, and backgrounds. One of the activities I have my students do in my college and career club is to think about adults and mentors that have helped support them. By recognizing that they have “co-pilots” in their lives that are waiting for them to take off is very empowering. With that being said, I’d like to share with you a few of my co-pilots.

Sumilhig family left to right: Brother-Jason, Mom-May Ann, Arielle, and Dad-Alex.

Sumilhig family left to right: Brother-Jason, Mom-May Ann, Arielle, and Dad-Alex.

The first two important co-pilots that are a huge part of my life are my parents who have shown me that not everything is about getting what you want but how you handle yourself from adversities and learn from the experience. My father was laid off from United Airlines as a mechanic after 9/11 but still showed our family he was going to provide for us and eventually got hired at Alaskan Airlines then a couple years later rehired back to United. After a few tests and interviews he was then promoted to a higher position. My mother is a breast cancer survivor (since 2011) who has shown incredible mental and spiritual strength throughout her radiation treatment and even worked while still managing to dress and look fabulous. I’ve been taught I can be anyone in the world I want to be, but it is your character that will outweigh any career endeavor I seek. Both of my parents are the biggest critics but also my biggest fans; as much as their criticism may overwhelm me sometimes I know they only want me to be better.

Arielle Sumilhig and her best friend Megan Villanueva

Arielle Sumilhig and her best friend Megan Villanueva

My peer co-pilot is my best friend Megan who I have known for over 10 years. When I first met her in 6th grade during dance team I was so amazed from her dancing skills to appearance. She was so confident and that was something I lacked. I got so nervous to talk to her I mentioned her sister’s outfit was strange which turned out to not be her sister and she ended up feeling really offended and not liking me from my first impression. Fast forward to 3 years later she finally forgives my comment I made (thank goodness) and we end up on the cheer team together in high school. We couldn’t be more alike and from there we were stuck like glue. Throughout our friendship over the years we both have been able to support each other in every way. Every tip of advice from her has helped keep me grounded and push forward. And without Megan encouraging me to compete in Miss Vacaville 2011 and to Miss Solano 2015 I don’t know if I would have competed.

Arielle with her Executive Director: Sarah Portugal and Assistant E.D. Jake Black

Arielle with her Executive Director: Sarah Portugal and Assistant E.D. Jake Black

Sarah and Jake have been the greatest executive and assistant directors you could ask for. I am overjoyed by their support and love they have for this organization and myself. It is one thing to say you care but to actually whole-heartedly mean that you care is so indescribable. I just wish everyone could experience that feeling inside of them! There have been times I’ve doubted myself and wondered if I was the “right girl” for this title, but Sarah and Jake have both made very clear that it’s a perfect match. I’m willing to work hard into representing Solano County and know they have my back no matter what.

Arielle with her older brother Jason

Arielle with her older brother Jason

My brother Jason has been such a huge inspiration for me. He has accomplished so much in a short time span I am incredibly proud to call him my brother. Within the past eight years, he’s been able to earn a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and soon PhD in Education Leadership. When I see my brother at work with the students he oversees I can just sense the leadership that he carries and in return they give him their full attention and respect. Jason has so many positive character traits I continue to learn from and progress in. If it wasn’t for Jason motivating me to continue my educational goals I would be lost.

Arielle with boyfriend Zachary

Arielle with boyfriend Zachary

My last but not least co-pilot, is someone I’ve known for nine years and has been such a positive person in my life – my boyfriend Zach. Being the ambitious girl that I am, I come up with many random and sporadic ideas that hopefully will evoke positive change. Zach has always supported any venture I tell him about but always gives me his honest opinion. It can be difficult being 500 (soon to be 5300) miles away from each other and have someone you care about so much not being physically next to you through all the new and exciting experiences. But I understand that what he’s doing is important and meaningful. Although we have separate experiences, when we share them with each other it’s like we were there the whole time. The amount of hours he spends serving as a Naval officer on a daily basis may be what some people may do in their daily job but the quality of work he puts in and leadership he shows to his sailors is something I truly admire and hope to give to my students.

Each co-pilot in my life provides me strength in different areas that helps empower me to be the best I can be.

From my parents providing life experiences to guide me to make better decisions, Megan giving me confidence to accomplish my aspirations from pageantry to teaching, Sarah & Jake for supporting me as Miss Solano and continuing to Miss California, Jason inspiring me to my educational goals to become a teacher and eventually a principal, and Zach giving me positive feedback everyday and reassurance to do better.

I strongly encourage you to think about co-pilots you have in your life and how each one supports you in different ways. YOU are the pilot to your future, and in order to ‘lift off’ you need the help from your co-pilots to assist and guide you.

Love,

Arielle Sumilhig

Miss Solano 2015

Making Your Mark

Sarah Portugal, Executive Director of Miss Solano, and Sara Lopez, Executive Director of Miss Napa County

Sarah Portugal, Executive Director of Miss Solano, and Sara Lopez, Executive Director of Miss Napa County

At every pageant, we hear phrases such as “your year will go by so fast” or “make the most of your year.” What does this really mean? How do you actually make the most of your year? There are probably many answers to this question and many different ways to have a fabulous year and all answers are right! This is not math class; it is a pageant with different people and many different ideas. However, over my years of involvement with the organization and watching successful titleholders, I have observed and learned a few foundational concepts to help make your mark as a titleholder and make the statement above reality.

  1. Do research – It is important for the titleholder to understand the organization she represents in every facet and understand this is a professional job. Research previous titleholders, their appearances, how your program started, your county and what appearances you could do, the strengths and struggles your program has encountered, and even local businesses and programs that could be potential partners. This will give you knowledge and knowledge is power and that power translates directly to your year.
  2. Understand what you want – After doing research, think about what you want from your year, set goals, and use your knowledge to translate to action. April Smith, Executive Director for Miss Sacramento, told all of us when we competed for her that we could be as busy or bored as we wanted if crowed Miss Sacramento. She would be there either way to support us. This statement is so true because there is support for titleholders in any program you compete for, but it is up to the titleholder to make it happen.
  3. Be positive – Your outlook is everything. As you make appearances and begin work for Miss California, you will have many different people helping you. Always be open minded, learn from everyone you can, and don’t get discouraged. Sarah Lopez, Executive Director of Miss Napa County, stated in a practice interview that when she would walk away from pageants she had lost, she would look at the winner and “ask what did she do that I did not do?” Her positivity made such a powerful statement because she did not let the negative affect her. She came back and eventually won several titles and had amazing years. When you are out in the community, people will recognize how positive you are and want you and the organization back for another appearance. You are setting the stage for the girls who come after you.
  4. Have fun – Not everyone can be a titleholder and be in your heels! Enjoy your title. Smile! This organization is full of beautiful, talented, and fun-loving executive directors who want a great year and to laugh with you. There are so many girls next you at Miss CA who could potentially be your best friend. While it is a job, this job hands down will be the most fun and exciting job you will do! Enjoy it!
Sarah with her Miss Solano, Arielle Sumilhig

Sarah with her Miss Solano, Arielle Sumilhig

When you give up your title, you will probably say to the next winner “Enjoy your year. Make the most of it.” Now you also know how to help her do so. It is not every day you can walk into a room and people will look at you and take notice. Give yourself as many opportunities as you can to make your mark as a titleholder. The community will remember you.

Before closing this blog, I could not stop and thank the people in this organization who have helped me along my journey and who taught me what I know. Brittney Henry, April Smith, Maggie Stewart, and the Miss Sacramento Organization put in hours and hours of walking and presentation prep, teaching me how to present myself, and reminding me to never to give up and trust myself. Tiffany Toilette was one woman who gave me a dose of reality and the 1,2,3’s of pageantry. I love her for her realism. She taught me the importance of wardrobe, representing the organization I was part of, and what it takes to be a winner. Tony Moises, Gabino Lopez, and the Miss Solano 2010 judges and committee gave me the opportunity to be a title holder, taught me the ropes of being a titleholder, worked on my interview, and took me on my journey to Miss CA. I could not be here today without them. So thank you to my coaches, my friends, and my Miss CA family.

Sarah Portugal

Miss Solano 2010

Executive Director, Miss Solano