Saturday, November 24, 2007

Congrats Elizabeth!

I just heard the news that Elizabeth Yeager, a fellow Ohio girl and longtime friend, won the title of Miss American Coed Victory in Orlando this week.

Elizabeth and I started competing together over five years ago in American Coed.
The first time I ever entered a pageant was the summer of my sophomore year in high school. My friend, Amber Carolus, had been competing in this pageant for a few years, and said it was a lot of fun. It was certainly like nothing I had ever done before, and my friend Brett dared me to enter the pageant that summer and wear a pink dress- so I took her up on it.

Going into that first pageant weekend, I never anticipated that I would enter another pageant again. I expected to have fun, but I had no idea how much I would gain and grow from that experience. I was competing for Miss Ohio Jr. Teen, and there were 225 in that division. It was a little scary to be up against so many girls. It didn't help that my JC Penney dress had grown too short over the months preceding the pageant- my mom stayed up most of the night prior to evening gown sewing three inches of lace to the bottom of the dress.

At the end of that pageant, I was in the top 25. I never expected to come away with anything, especially being up against so many girls in my first pageant ever. I had an excellent weekend and came back the next year.

Throughout the coming years, American Coed held a special place in my heart each summer. I won numerous talent, volunteer service, modeling, and speech awards, and always placed in the top ten, and several times as a runner up.

Last summer I competed for Miss Ohio American Coed and won! It was one of the most precious moments of my life and something I will always remember. It was something I worked extremely hard for and I feel so blessed to have represented such an amazing pageant system that truly encourages inner beauty, healthy body image, and making new friends. When I first entered that pageant, I had absolutely no self-confidence, poor public speaking skills, and slumped shoulders during evening gown.

It took me five tries to win that state title- and each year, I learned something new and pushed myself harder. I made the best of every opportunity and grew so close to many of the girls, Elizabeth included.

Elizabeth was my first runner up and she won first runner up again this summer when I crowned the new winner, Cassandra George. Cassandra is competing for Miss American Coed now as I type, and I will anxiously await the results later this evening. It is hard to believe it has been a year since I made that very eventful trip to Orlando. (The hotel charged me twice for the room before I even arrived, overdrawing on my American bank account, the hotel lost our room, Virgin Atlantic linked me to U.S. flights that didn't exist, my mom drove the entire Ohio-Orlando trip by herself, etc-it was a challenge!)

Elizabeth was accepted early to medical school at Wright State earlier this year. I hope she doesn't mind me saying that both of us have come a long way since we first competed together. That is one of my favorite things about competing in this pageant for years- you grow yourself but you also see an incredible transformation in friends.

Now, what is Coed Victory? I'll explain.

American Coed's name was created to give an image of the "all-american girl", not using coed to mean "girls and boys".They award titles in princess, sweetheart, preteen, jr. teen, teen, and Coed (the oldest division). Having an early January birthday, I was almost always the oldest in my age group. (They place you in divisions based on your age as of Jan 1st.)

Girls who win Miss State Coed titles can compete for the title of Miss American Coed. Anyone who places as a runner up to Miss State Coed can also compete for Miss American Coed. This rule exists because often the point differences between the girls in the top 5 are extremely close. For the past three years, in fact, the Miss American Jr. Teen winner has been a runner up in her state pageant. The idea is that anyone can win.

Girls who are former state queens, girls who are just competing in optionals(talent, actress, etc), and girls who didn't placed as runners up can compete for Miss American Victory. They compete in the same three categories as the other girls, but just for a different title. Elizabeth placed as a runner up this summer but chose to compete in Victory. I am so happy for her and proud of her, and I can't wait to see pictures.

well, that's all for now! I'll update later once the Miss American Coed pageant is over.

Cassandra, I am cheering you on from Virginia! You are an awesome young woman and you're doing Ohio proud! Cassandra has already won the national speech and actress competitions and placed third runner up in national talent.

Good luck to all the ladies!

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