… for my (not-so) secret wish to become Miss America

“I just wanted to call to tell you congratulations!” And with that, I am one step closer to making one of my biggest dreams a reality. I am officially a finalist for Miss District of Columbia 2012!

Since I was a little girl, I have always wanted to walk on the Miss America stage and (dare I say it) become Miss America. However, even though I grew up watching all the pageants on TV, I never joined a pageant. I was preoccupied with a lot of other activities – things like school, ice skating, ballet, piano, voice – and the thought of entering a beauty pageant never crossed my mind. When I went to college, I met Cynthia. She was my Resident Advisor and an all-around incredible student. When Cynthia encouraged me to enter a small pageant near school, my immediate reaction was: “What? You’ve got to be kidding! Me?” When she told me she was being serious and that winning would give me extra scholarship money, I retorted “That’s a no. No way! I’m not strutting around in a bikini and stilettos in front of strangers.” But the idea that I – all of 5’2” without even a smidgen of pageant experience – could be in a pageant and potentially win a little scholarship money was implanted in my head. I started thinking to myself: What would I perform? That’s easy – I’ve been playing piano for years. If they don’t have a piano, I can sing. What would I wear? That’s also covered thanks to all the dresses I have from high school formal events. And my most pressing question – how am I going to wear a swimsuit in front of all those people? Well, I do have over three months to get in shape. I went back to Cynthia and said I’d sign up. I came in first-runner up and took home a sparkly tiara from the pageant.

My experience in that small pageant led me to research more about pageantry. I learned that there are two main systems in the United States – Miss USA and Miss America. While Miss USA is geared for young women looking to launch modeling and acting careers, Miss America is the world’s largest scholarship provider for young women – doling out $45 million each year! Even though Miss USA is a wonderful program and has incredible women competing in it, I ruled out competing for Miss USA because I’m not looking to become a model or an actress at all. But since I am paying my grad school tuition bills, taking part in the Miss America program seemed like a perfect fit.

That is why this past Saturday, I participated in the Miss District of Columbia preliminary auditions. After turning in my paperwork to prove my eligibility for the pageant, I was interviewed for 3 minutes. For those who think pageantry is just for pretty girls who can only smile and walk across the stage in expensive gowns and tiny bikinis, I give you the first two questions I received during the interview: 1) Should military service be required for all citizens? and 2) Is Obama’s presidency a success or failure? All in all, I am pleased with how I handled myself during the interview (even though I know that I have a lot of improving to do). I am so excited for all the mock interviews I’ll have over the next few months because I cannot wait to become a better impromptu speaker! Following the interview and a quick change, I performed my talent (singing) for another panel of judges. Performing was a complete rush, and I cannot stop grinning that I hit the notes I wanted to hit. The entire process took less than thirty minutes, but it was such a thrill and a blast! And of course, the icing on the cake is the fact that I made it to the finals!

As I have been preparing for the Miss DC pageant and learning more about the Miss America organization, I have learned that pageantry really is so much more than a one night competition. It is more than the figuring out how to wear my hair, what makeup I should use, finding the best dresses, and getting myself into the perfect hourglass shape. Yes, the crown is absolutely lovely, the prestige that comes along with the title is phenomenal, and the glitz and the glamour are spectacular. But even though the one night of competition is what most people will ever see, the woman who wins the crown and wears the sash takes on the year-long job of being Miss DC. In addition to representing the District by competing for Miss America, she attends various events throughout the District and represents the Miss DC organization during the year. She also promotes a platform, a cause that she is committed to, and raises funds for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Being Miss DC – or Miss America for that matter – is truly a job that requires impeccable speaking and interpersonal skills and outstanding leadership qualities.

Over the next few months, I’ll be working hard to get into my best physical shape (see you later my favorite cupcakes from Sprinkles and Baked and Wired!). I’ll be practicing how to walk with grace and poise like Sandra Bullock did in Miss Congeniality. Thankfully, I have a bit of a head start on Gracie Lou Freebush as a former ice skater, ballerina, and all-around girly girl. I’ll be picking out dresses, makeup, shoes, and accessories (anyone up for some shopping?). I’ll develop relationships with other like-minded women who are amazingly stunning, talented, smart, funny, and genuinely nice. In so many ways, I’ll be having a lot of fun with this whole experience. Win or lose, I am so grateful that I have been blessed with the incredible opportunity to develop my skills and talents to continue to become the best woman I can be. In so doing, I will be using the gifts God has given me and serving my community.

I’ll be keeping you up-to-speed on my journey to Miss DC right here or on Facebook (www.facebook.com/CVLMissDCFinalist). And if you so happen to live in the DC area (or are able to travel here), mark your calendar for June 17th to watch me compete for Miss District of Columbia 2012!

8 thoughts on “… for my (not-so) secret wish to become Miss America

  1. Congratulations baby! I will scream on top of my lungs and say, ” I am proud to be Casey’s aunt!” I am hoping and praying that we can be there to support you in DC in June. I am looking at online deals right now. I am really proud of you Casey!

  2. Good article, I remember we did the Long Beach Pageant together. But I really wish you would not emphasize the scholarship portion of Miss America considering the entry fees, mandatory 150 dollar donation to the childrens miracle network, and the mandatory selling of add space for the pamphlete. Aside from that the majority of girls spend even more money on expensive gowns, custom bathing suits, spray tans, etc. While not as expensive as competing in Miss USA, i find that the majority of girls SPEND more money on the Miss America Pageant system than they actually ever win back (unless of course they win Miss America.)

    • Hi Tatiana!

      I wanted to focus more on the opportunity pageantry and the Miss America system offers in terms of personal and professional development, and I’m sorry if it came across too heavy on the scholarship opportunity! I understand that only a few women are lucky enough to earn the scholarship. But win or lose, I know that every contestant walks away with her own priceless prizes, namely confidence, poise, conviction, purpose, just to name a few.

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