2018 Miss Florida USA Candidate Emily McLeod Shares A Message Of Hope For Those Struggling With Substance Abuse

There are so many tragic stories in the field of addiction, and no shortage of onlookers who are drawn to the shock and awe of addicts’ war stories. It’s easy to lose sight of the brighter side of the story: Treatment works and people do recover. Hope matters in addiction recovery because put simply, without hope nothing changes.

According to more than 23 million people (10% of adults) in the United States have recovered from drug and alcohol problems. Emily McLeod, who'll be competing for the crown of Miss Florida USA, would like to share a message of hope with others "For those struggling with substance abuse, recovery is possible. Addiction doesn’t discriminate and neither does recovery. We only compete one or two nights during our time as titleholders, the rest of the year is 363 opportunities to help someone else and create something amazing" - she explained.

Emily was employed as a counselor’s aid at Willingway Hospital. Willingway is a drug and alcohol treatment facility located in Statesboro, GA. Since 1974, Willingway has been loving others until they could love themselves again - "I saw people come in so sad, resentful, and hopeless and toward the end of their stay, the lights in their eyes would start to come back again. This journey is very near and dear to my heart. There was truly nothing more fulfilling than seeing that process and being able to offer hope to others in that situation."

If she wins the crown Emily will have the opportunity to represent the state of Florida in Miss USA 2018. While Florida has had runners-up, finalists, and semi-finalists, the state has never won the Miss USA pageant, although Cheryl Patton became Miss USA after Sylvia Hitchcock won Miss Universe.

The most recent finalist was Brittany Oldehoff who placed 4th runner-up in 2014.

How will you prepare for Miss Florida USA ? What inspired you to walk on the course of beauty pageants? 

I have had so much support and love from sponsors, friends, and relatives that I focus my preparations every day on being the best version of myself. This includes a whole lot of time management, fulfilling my commitments, and living by spiritual principles. I feel it’s important to keep a balance between pageant prep and everything else so that I can stay physically, emotionally and spiritually centered.

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Tell me something about yourself and your work. What do you actually do ?

Currently I am a full time student at Georgia Southern University studying Multimedia Journalism. I also work part time on campus in a student assistant marketing position. My work day usually consists of writing press releases, posting snapchats for on campus events, planning social media posts, hosting informational shorts about campus news and updates, and other special projects. I am so fortunate that I get to work with such creative people and have a job that gives me practical experience relating to my major.

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What would you advise any young girl out there who has a dream of being a queen one day?

Be unapologetically you. It is so much fun to be yourself! Be the Miss (insert title here) YOU want to be. I think we sometimes forget that we don’t mold ourselves to the title, we mold the title to us.

Who is your ideal beauty queen and how has she helped you to evolve as a beauty queen?

Olivia Culpo has always been the beauty queen I look up to the most. She values her family and friends and is so classic! She’s also an extremely powerful female role model. I have absolutely loved watching her career blossom post Miss Universe. She’s kills it. She has helped me to evolve because she’s such an awesome reminder of keeping true to yourself through all stages of pageantry and life.


Thanks to the beautiful Emily for the interview. Pageants News wishes you all the very best for Miss Florida USA pageant.