Pageantry was one of those things that I sort of fell into, as shared in previous blog posts, it was never an aspiration or dream of mine to become Miss America or Miss USA. As a matter of fact, my first pageant wasn’t even until my sophomore year of college.
Despite my childhood ambitions not aligning me to pursue a national or state title early on, over time I became particularly fond of performing on stage and serving my community/state as an advocate of change; addressing platforms near and dear to my heart. Often regarding diversity, inclusion, representation, and self love.
Following my 3rd state level competition (Miss Nebraska 2017) I realized that being a titleholder, ultimately, wasn’t my calling. Gasp! I know, but don’t get me wrong, each and every experience was enjoyable; I was able to make lifelong friends, earn scholarship money, travel across the country, and walk away a better woman/leader/servant/friend, but I still knew that it wasn’t in the cards for me to be the next Miss America or USA – and that’s okay! The realization of such has allowed me to invest my time, energy and talents in what I do consider to be my “calling” or purpose.
And that is leadership development for young women, especially those in marginalized spaces. This has been something that has been on my heart for several years, so much so, that in 2015, at 21 years old, I started my own event, Queens for a Day.
Queens for a Day was designed to bring young women, from all different backgrounds, together for a day of fun. Each little queen had the opportunity to participate in activities and luxuries that she may not get to on a day to day basis, receive an official pageant sash, take part in a photo shoot, and be pampered like a queen for an entire afternoon. With the help of my public relations guru, MBUSAM sister queens, sponsors, and the Omaha community I was able to host 30 young women for the first ever Queens for a Day in June 2015.
Two years later and crowned Miss Western Nebraska 2017 (MAO), I wanted to make Queens for a Day even more dynamic. Opening up the ages group to include younger girls, spending more time on developmental activities, creating a safe space for dialogue on topics such as self love, social media, what it means to be “black and beautiful, sharing insight on what it takes to compete in a pageant, and providing the queens an opportunity to get pageant style headshots for their personal usage.
On July 15, all of that came to fruition, over 25 beautiful young women joined me for the second Queens for a Day, in a tea style setting.
Sometimes it still doesn’t feel real that Queens for a Day has not only successfully happened once, but twice. I look at these photos and can’t help but to feel overcome with emotion. This isn’t about me, but them. My goal is to make an afternoon together, memorable. To make each girl feel a little more beautiful, confident and/or poised. To remind them that they are enough, with or without a crown.
For so long I struggled to find my purpose. When people asked me, “What do you want to do?” I was led to believe that happiness/success/fulfillment was to be found in a career that placed me in a large corner office, or a trade that produced a heavy flow of income. I was wrong, here it is, this is it. Giving back any and all that I can to these young women that will one have to discover their own passions, sharing their unique gifts with the world.
To be a part of that, even just a small part, is enough for me. That’s my purpose.