On the surface, Michelle Hurst is your typical 19-year-old college student. But in a few months, her world will change. She will be trading in her jeans and flip flops for an evening gown and a pair of heels to represent Stanislaus County and compete for the very first time at the Miss California USA Pageant.
“This will be the first time I’ve ever competed in a pageant,” said Hurst. “It’s an honor knowing that the judges selected me to represent Stanislaus County and saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself.”
Hurst will be sharing the stage with 160 other Miss California USA hopefuls on Jan. 12, 2013 in Pasadena.
“I’ve never seen myself as a pageant girl. If it weren’t for the encouragement and support my sorority sisters instilled in me, I don’t think I would have gone through with it. They are my biggest support system,” she said.
Pageants are not won through looks alone. Contestants have to be physically, financially, and emotionally ready to compete.
“To prepare for the pageant I’ve signed up for boot camp classes along with a nutritional advisor who tells me what foods to eat,” said Hurst. “One of my sorority sisters is helping me with my projection and walk. On top of that, I am reviewing possible questions that will be given to me during the interview process of the competition.”
Getting sponsors is also essential for pageant contestants. Each contestant will have the opportunity to represent a charity of their choice and help raise money for their cause.
“It takes time and commitment on your part to seek your sponsors,” said Hurst. “As a contestant, you need to raise enough money to represent your charity. I decided to represent the National Kidney Foundation, which is the philanthropy of our sorority. Half of the money I make from sponsors or from donations immediately goes towards my foundation.”
During the judging portion of the competition, contestants will showcase their personalities and be judged on three portions: Interview, Swimsuit and Evening Gown.
“The swimsuit portion of the competition will be challenging for me because unlike the other two, your personality has to pop out more on stage. It’s a little nerve-wracking,” she said.
During the swimsuit competition, the judges will be looking for physical fitness, which includes a healthy and fit body. There’s usually a wide range of body styles and types for the Top 10 Finalists each year.
“After meeting the pageant girls I realized that a perfect body is not going to get you the crown, it takes a group of well-rounded individuals to compete at this level. Back when I was younger I was extremely shy and had anxiety issues. This pageant and the support from all my loved ones have made me see my true potential. This is where I belong.”
Although Hurst has high hopes to win the crown, winning is not important to her.
“Even if I don’t win, this experience will benefit me in the long run,” said Hurst. You have to aim high to realize your true potential in life. If you don’t set your goals high, you will never know your true potential.”
For information on sponsoring Hurst, e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.