You’ll be surprised by how much there is to gain from pageants if you enter with the right mindset. When you compete in a beauty contest a lot of people think; Is it like Toddlers and Tiaras? Do all the girls hate each other? Is the answer always world peace?

Getting on a stage and public speaking can be terrifying, but you will learn a lot about yourself, your strengths, weaknesses, and what you need to further improve on. When speaking on stage, you need to express your ideas in a quick and eloquent way. This is easier said than done, especially when you’re under pressure. There’s never a right or wrong answer. But there is a diplomatic one that shows empathy for both sides of the argument. Having these discussions teaches you about the different perspectives people may have and in turn, you’ll discover what your own stance on a topic may be.

Indeed, the only way to overcome your fears and grow as a person is to challenge yourself by getting out of your comfort zone. 

The beautiful Jeanie Lee will have the opportunity to compete in the Miss Arizona USA Pageant in a few days. When she was young she remembers watching Miss Universe thinking she wishes could walk across that state with so much confidence - "I've always been a shy girl so this was a big step to take out of my comfort zone. It wasn't until my sophomore year in college when I competed in my first pageant and I had so much fun" - she explained.

If she wins the contest Jeanie will have the opportunity to represent the state of Arizona in Miss USA 2018. Did you know ? Arizona has had a comparatively large number of semi-finalists and placings, but has never won the Miss USA crown in its own right. However, in 1980, Jineane Ford was awarded the title after Shawn Weatherly (who won the original pageant) won the Miss Universe pageant.

Three Miss Arizona USAs were former Miss Arizona Teen USAs and two were former Miss America contestants. The current titleholder is Tommy Lynn Calhoun from Tucson.

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When we were younger, most of us looked up to someone. For the majority of us that would mean our parents, but on top of that it wasn't unusual to also find ourselves looking up to heroes on television and in films. Maybe we wanted to be Arnold Schwarzenegger or Britney Spears. These were figures who seemed to embody everything that we thought was good, all of the ideal traits that we would like to be able to possess for ourselves, and the kind of life that we would one day want to live.

When she was younger the gorgeous Demi Madisson, who'll be competing for the crown of Miss Georgia Usa in a few days, wanted to be like the Miss USA queens - "During many bad times in my life I always had good role models to look up to and I still look up to them to this day. I would love to give back to the organization that has done so much for me and be a good role model to young girls everywhere" - she explained.

She has always been inspired every year by seeing what each girl brings to the pageant competitions and learning what they are passionate about - "I have been watching beauty contests since I was very little and I'm a girly girl so it's something I've always wanted to do."

If she wins the crown Demi will have the opportunity to represent her state in Miss USA 2018. The current titleholder is DeAnna Johnson of Hazlehurst who was previously a contestant on Season 8 of The Voice. The pageant is directed by Miss Tennessee USA 1989, Kim Greenwood. The state of Georgia has never won the Miss USA Pageant, however they almost won the crown when Emanii Davis and Tiana Griggs made the Top 3 in 2016 and 2014.

I had the opportunity to interview Demi on her preparation for the Miss Georgia USA Contest. Lets know a little more about this beautiful woman through this interview!

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Despite the campaigns and warnings there are still a worrying number of people who drink and drive. Why do they do it? Some are over confident – believing they can  handle their drink, or that they can judge best if they’re fit to drive. Others don’t plan on driving and may even promise not to, but make poor decisions as a result of being intoxicated. Still more just don’t care about potential risks to themselves or others. Or they hugely overestimate their driving capabilities. Or think they’re invincible. 

Whatever the reasons, the outcomes aren’t good. Fourteen per cent of road fatalities each year are a result of drink driving. While the number of drunk drivers involved in accidents has risen for the first time in a decade - and the holiday season will likely see a spike. 

The beautiful Kawena Kan Hai, who'll be competing for the crown of Miss Hawaii Teen USA, has lost a close friend in an alcohol related crash that claimed the life of five people. And it sparked a passion in her to speak out about the prevention of drinking and driving - "I have spoken within my school and my community. I may not been able to save my friends life, but through her story I can save many other lives" - she explained.

If she wins the crown Kawena will have the opportunity to represent Hawaii in the 2018 Miss Teen USA Pageant. Although Hawaii has made the cut fewer times than many states, they have achieved a number of high placings. Hawaii Teen USAs have been quite successful at Miss Teen USA, and are ranked fifteenth in terms of number and value of placements and were ranked third in the 1980s. Kelly Hu won the competition in 1985 and two Hawaii teens have placed 1st runner-up.

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Women around the world are overcoming discrimination, prejudice and inequality to lead the way in creating a more equal world. While it’s thrilling to see the current energy and excitement around women’s rights and leadership, the reality is, women have been  doing amazing things, and making global contributions for centuries. And that is leadership: enabling positive change, inspiring action, addressing difficult issues, moving communities forward.

The gorgeous Sydney Long, who'll be competing for the crown of Miss South Carolina USA 2018, wants to inspire women and young girls all around the world - "Since competing in pageants my confidence, self-awareness, and desire to serve has increased. The older I get, the more I desire to be a woman that makes a difference in the world" - she explained.

Sydney would like to be more than a girl with a crown. The young lady would like to motivate other women to be influential in their own ways and make a difference.

I had the opportunity to interview her a few days before the Miss South Carolina USA Pageant. If she wins the crown she will have the opportunity to represent the state of South Carolina in Miss USA 2018

Did you know ? Miriam Stevenson, South Carolina's first Miss USA and the United States' first Miss Universe, was also the first Miss USA winner to have competed at Miss America. She was the first woman to have competed at Miss America, Miss USA, and Miss Universe. South Carolina's second Miss USA was Shawn Weatherly, who also went on to win Miss Universe.

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I think one great tip is that you should always love yourself. If you don't love yourself, take care of yourself, cater to yourself and that little inner voice, you will really not be very worthy of being with someone else, because you won't be the best version of you. ~Kimora Lee Simmons

The gorgeous Nicky Opheij, who'll be competing for the crown of Miss Universe 2017 later this year, has been modeling for three years now. She won the Hollands Next TopModel Contest in 2014. While she was doing this she always had to lose weight and centimeters - "I was unhappy and not self-confident at all. This was not who I really am. It's important to eat (and be) healthy but the most importantly is to be happy with yourself" - she explained.

Modeling and being in front of the camera is what she loves to do. But it was not healthy for her at a highfashion level - "I reconsidered highfashion modelling because of that. I think top commercial modelling suits me and my personality better!"

This year during the Miss Netherlands adventure she has learned to be happy with herself and to be confident with herself - "Being confident with my feminine curves and the opportunity to show my personality are the two most important things I missed during modeling. Together with the Miss Netherlands experts and psychologists I’m here to love myself and my body. Now I can be a good rolemodel for those young girls and kickstart my top commercial modelling career."

I had the opportunity to interview the beautiful Nicky a few weeks before the prestigious Miss Universe Contest - Did you know ? Holland has won Miss Universe one time; it was in 1989 with Angela Visser.

The country debuted at Miss World and Miss Universe in 1956. The national beauty pageant was called "Miss Holland" from 1950 until 1990, since that year the winner competed at the Miss Universe, while runners-up traditionally competed at the Miss World and Miss International.

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She will represent Great Britain at the 2017 Miss Universe Pageant in Las Vegas. The gorgeous Anna Burdzy is a law graduate and is set to obtain her Masters degree in human rights law. In the future she hopes to work for the prestigious United Nations and open her own charity - "I strongly believe that you have two hands; one to help yourself and one to help others and as my chosen career path is Human Rights Law, I feel it is so important to be kind and make as much of a difference to those less fortunate than ourselves as possible" - she explained. 

As Miss Universe she hopes to be able to use her platform to make a change on a global level rather than just in her closer community. 

Anna grew up watching Miss Universe as a kid because her mom used to watch it - “I’ve always been aware (about Miss Universe) but I just thought it was an impossible dream like it could never happen to me. I always look up to the other girls but I finally did it” 

Did you know ? Great Britain has never won the Miss Universe crown before. The closest it could reach was in the year 2013, when Amy Willerton secured the Top 10 spot at Miss Universe 2013 pageant. This year Anna will try her best to grab the first ever crown of Miss Universe for Great Britain. Check out my interview with her below!

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Indian-Americans constitute less than 1 percent of the U.S. population. Yet you will find them at the helm of great companies such as PepsiCo and MasterCard; as presidents and deans of America’s most prestigious colleges; at the pinnacles of journalism; dominating fields such as technology, scientific research and medicine; and thriving in industries such as hospitality, transportation and real estate. They have also achieved extraordinary success in government.

Monika Patel's parents migrated to America in hopes of being able to create a better life for her family. Like most immigrants like to call it, Following the American dream. Growing up with a traditional family Monika faced many challenges appropriating to the American culture. "I was always treated differently, no one wanted to understand where my family came from, they would just point and laugh at me or tease me for having dark skin. The kids ended up telling me I looked “unusual” I always hoped that one day my differences would be put aside and I would fit in with the rest of the crowd." she explained.

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This year, Monika Patel will have the opportunity to represent the indian-american community at the prestigious Miss Texas USA Pageant. And it is not common to see Indian-American beauties in major national pageants of the country.  There was a lot of controversy when Nina Davuluri won Miss America title in 2013. The first placement of Indian-American beauty in Miss USA was achieved by Pratima Yarlagadda in 1999. 

The next and the most recent Indian-American to achieve success in Miss USA is Chhavi Verg. She even spoke fluent Hindi on the Miss USA stage. Her presence in Top 10, Top 5 and then Top 3 was not a surprise.  In fact many wanted her to win because her final answer was good.  However, she had to settle with 1st runner-up placement.  Nevertheless it is a huge achievement. 

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Let us hope to see soon an Indian-American winning Miss USA. It would be interesting to see how the country perceives the event!

So, who is Monika Patel ? She is studying Psychology and Fashion at Texas State University.

She also works at a gear manufacturing company. She assists in creating company culture making sure they do not follow the footsteps of the corporations that have failed before them. When she first started working at Rave Gears she was learning the ropes of Quality Procurement so she took a reverse engineering approach to the system so she can one day maintain a scale of multiple department instruction. During the summer she was able to work full time and she got the opportunity to manage work flow and follow production. Her logic for choosing this type of work is because of her focus in Industrial Organizational Psychology.  Working in an industrial environment is not glitz and glam. But it just goes to show that it is very possible to have beauty and brains.

She was born in Chicago and moved to Texas when she was about the age of five. She was put into a very small Christian private school where she quickly learned to lean on God for answers. "I had bowed to my fate taking into consideration I had to coexist in a dual Hindu/Christian life. Trying to find harmony within the two cultures was difficult for me to evaluate on my own, especially as a child." she explained.

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