Men of Faith 2nd Annual Youth Leadership Conference: "Promoting a Positive Self-Image"

My first official appearance as Miss United States was actually booked soon after I won my state title. I met a gentleman at an event I attended as Miss Virginia United States who thought I may be a good role model for the young women attending his upcoming conference. I happily agreed to take part, hoping my words would impact someone's life.

You can imagine his surprise when I called him days before the conference and said, "Well, there's good news and bad news. The bad news is... Miss Virginia United States cannot make it. But the good news is... MISS UNITED STATES CAN!!!" I could hear a huge sigh of relief through the phone as he gathered his thoughts and congratulated me on the win! And his next thought was even more special: The fact that a national titleholder is taking time to speak to a group of young girls is amazing.

To me, it didn't seem like a big deal. But to him... it was EVERYTHING.

I arrived at the conference, and met girls ranging from ages 10 to about 20. Most were shy and didn't seem too happy to be there. Just what I expected.

So, I decided to let THEM lead the discussion. What do they want to talk about? Boys? Shopping? Music? After a bit of that, they seemed to open up a bit. I partnered out conversation with stories from my high school experience, showing them that I never really saw myself as a beauty queen. It was just something I always wanted to be, and I believed hard enough in myself to see that come to fruition.

They perked up a little bit, realizing that I wasn't always a pageant girl. And more importantly- that THEY are in control of their future and success. We talked for about an hour before our session was over, and the girls walked quietly back to the congregational area to complete the day's events. But I saw just a couple more smiles than I did when we began... And that's enough for me. It's not about impacting everyone; just someone. And your task will be complete.