What I learned from being the People's Choice for Miss USA 2011...one year later.

"...love, the greatest of all things" -Zeta Tau Alpha Creed

I learned many things in pursuit of my endeavor to become Miss USA both before, during and after the competition. Many of the things I have learned have made me a better person on so many levels. Looking back at who I was even before becoming Miss New Mexico USA I would not say that humility and gratitude were my greatest strengths. I've done a lot of "growing-up" thanks to these experiences and the many people who have pushed me to become my best. I've also learned how to transfer pageant skills into real-life opportunities for success and leadership. Even just one short year ago I struggled to identify this correlation but now I'm grateful to find opportunity for growth and learning in all situations and understand that all situations teach us incredible lessons that can be used in a multitude of ways.

I came about this reflection from a couple of new blogging projects that I've recently gotten involved in.  I now guest blog for both a pageant related site as well as a Teach For America/education focused site. Many of the things I blog about on both blogs are actually similar to one another. These connections have pushed me to think about who and am and my experiences in a whole new light. Recently I wrote a blog about earning a spot as the People's Choice for ThePageantGuy.com and found that many of the things I was doing to promote my voice as a titleholder are very similar to what I do now as an ed reformer. Not to mention these approaches are also relevant to just being my best self and cultivating relationships and humility in all interactions. 

I share this reflection because I myself am so often guilty of not making the most of what I can gain from various experiences. I've traditionally approached experiences as "one-dimensional" and divorced from all other components of my complex life. I'm also guilty of being ashamed of my "pageant days" when in all reality my experiences as Miss New Mexico USA and Miss USA were probably the most formative of who I am now and what I stand for as a woman devoted to justice and love. I have learned so much and have so much still to learn but I know I will be better off by truly living my life as a learner and seeking opportunities to evolve (even when it's hard to understand how).

If you know me at all it's no mystery that one of my proudest accomplishments in life was winning the People's Choice Award at the 2011 Miss USA competition. I'm not proud of this moment because of the fact that I got to prance around on stage in front of an audience or showcase a sparkly trophy on a shelf. I'm proud of this because it's an accomplishment that I cannot rightfully claim as "mine" but rather am privileged to share with the many people who worked to helped me obtain it. As I stood on stage that night, under the warmth of a million bright lights facing a live audience, a camera man, and judges like Lil' John and Tyson Chandler I could not help but radiate pure gratitude and love to anyone who claimed their confidence in my ability to be a leader on such a large scale. I learned many things along that journey and continue to understand myself and my impact more and more because of it. When I wrote about about what I did to make my voice heard and represent something larger than myself (right here!! --> ThePageantGuy.com) I was so surprised to see that many of these things were actually continuing to help me everyday. Per usual this post is quirky, pink, and sentimental but it's also an honest depiction of my experience and efforts. 

(Oooo and by the way, ThePageantGuy.com is awesome for pageant junkies like me. It's full of fun interviews with titleholders like this one I did back in November of 2010 ...why yes, I just documented myself dancing like a cat on the internet)

How lucky are we to learn and grow in multifaceted ways in pursuit of being the people we are destined to become?

love & learning-


  1. You continue to be insightful and inspiring. I know there are many 'pageant related' blogs you have posted and in reading them, I thought to myself 'this is something I should be applying in my own life.'