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  • Diana

Be the brightest light

The Miss NY class of 2019 began this past weekend and I can't help but think of the start of my (embarrassing) pageant career.

Flashback to 2013, my very first pageant. I had no idea how to put foundation on, I did my hair in the host hotel lobby and I wore plastic flat sandals with my evening gown. Even though my interview outfit was an oversized blue Calvin Klein suit, I still managed to make the top ten. That experience ignited a fire inside me and I came back the next year and took home the title! As I reflect on that year of service, I wonder how I even won that pageant because I know so much more now then I did in 2014.

From 2013 to 2014, personal growth occurred but I truly believe the real growth happened when I began competing in the Miss America Organization. I was 19 when I entered my first MAO local and I didn't wear plastic flats with my evening Instead, I had no idea that a 30 second closing in our ten minute private interview was required. That was the only local I competed in that year because I was naive. I came back the next year as an aware 20 year old and competed in about six locals. That year, I traveled across NY, just for the chance to go to Miss NY. I never took home the crown, but after each pageant, I can honestly say that I learned something new every time. Because of that, I truly believed that I knew everything I needed to know to crown at the next local. Even though I felt ready and prepared, a crown was not a part of my journey that year.

It is easy to just give up after you hear 'no' so many times. But as I look back on that year of trial and growth, I know why my year of service was supposed to come a year later. I started the next pageant season with hope and a redefined outlook. All of those 'no's' led me to where I was supposed to be. I was challenged, I was pushed outside my comfort zone and I became a better person. I met kind hearted people who believed in my worth and without them, I would never be who I am today. I learned how to be a good titleholder, how to stay humble and how to believe in myself. One of the beautiful things about pageantry is that it encourages you to display your worth and be proud of it. In a competitive job market and in life in general, those skills are difficult to embody.

I am happy that it took me two years to become a Miss America titleholder because it allowed me to be the best Miss Finger Lakes I could be. I knew I had the ambition and passion to promote my platform, make a difference, use my voice, promote MAO and spread my light. But I needed those years of growth and all the "no's" because it made the one "yes" so purposeful.

"Whether your platform is big or small, we all have the power to lift up those around us." - Selena Gomez

Pageantry gave me an enormous platform but I needed to earn that sparkly microphone that amplifies my voice. To the contestants who enter an MAO local this year, do not give up. You have the power to share your light and use every "no" as an opportunity to have more time to be the brightest light in the room.

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