Michaela also believes that this world needs role models, and she is passionate about promoting positive social change. While in college, Michaela founded a chapter of Active Minds at Clarkson University. The nonprofit organization works to increase students’ awareness of mental health issues, provide information and resources regarding mental illness, encourage students to seek help as soon as it is needed, and serve as liaison between students and the mental health community. Michaela traveled the East Coast last year, speaking at high schools in order to inform students about mental illness, and sharing her own story at mental health walks in order to inspire others.
Here we bring you the untold facts about Michaela’s life and also her ideas, objectives and opinions… Have a look!
You will compete at the Miss World United States Pageant in a few days. How do you feel ?
I feel way more prepared than I did last month! I've submitted all of the required documents, I have sponsors and a public figure Facebook page set up, I have a beautiful new evening gown and an updated wardrobe for pageant week, my round-trip flight and hotel room is booked, and I've befriended many of the contestants. I'm incredibly excited to be a part of the Class of 2017 and have the opportunity to represent those who suffer in silence from mental illness due to the fear of stigma through my Beauty With a Purpose project.
Which part of the competition are you most looking forward to? Do you have any apprehensions?
Probably the fitness competition! I was the main instructor at my university for several years, leading classes in yoga, pilates, kickboxing and strength training. I am very active outdoors, like to participate in charity 5K runs and am an avid cross-fitter. Despite this, I am a bit apprehensive because although I am a NASM certified personal trainer, I don't consider myself to be very athletic. I've always been petite and was never the star of any sports teams, but I did win spirit awards for my enthusiasm and effort!
What was your key motivation for entering the competition?
I was selected as a national delegate last year and was unable to commit at the time. I wanted so badly to compete but was already representing New York in the USA National Miss 2016 competition, which fell a week after the Miss World America 2016 competition, and would have conflicted with my contractual responsibilities as a titleholder. I was graciously entrusted as a 2017 national finalist, and I've worked extra hard in order to devote the time and effort that is necessary into preparing for a pageant of this stature.
We are all unique so what would you say is something that makes you stand out from the other contestants?
Well I'm the only redhead, so that's working in my favor! I'd say my joining the military is unique but my friend and fellow contestant has as well. There are other contestants involved in the medical field, and several that have mental health platforms. Without identifying it myself, I believe that the judges will see something in me that sets me apart from the others. Even with a percentage based scoring system and rubric, judging is incredibly subjective. We can't always determine what an individual judge is looking for in a winner, but I believe that confidence and authenticity definitely leave the best impression.
Social media seem to play a major role in pageantry nowadays. Do you think this is advantageous to you? Why or why not?
I think that reputations take a lifetime to build and can be destroyed in an instant with poor understanding of internet etiquette. Essentially all that we have ever done online, even if deleted, is accessible with the right cyber applications. Mastering social media is the key to success not just in pageantry but in the professional world. Having studied psychology extensively, I know that people prefer the familiar because they can trust it. We make predictable investments. If a woman can market herself well through multiple channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube, then she can be trusted as a representative of a company, brand or organization. I think it's very smart for the America's Miss World organization to add a social media component to the competition, assessing our posts for quality of content rather than popularity.
What would you advise any young girl out there who has a dream of being a queen one day?
I would say that self love is paramount to all else. Nothing can hold you back except for your attitude in the face of adversity. I was bullied in middle school and that motivated me to compete in my first pageant; I went on to represent the state of New York at Miss Teen America. If I had listened to the bullies instead of the proud voice in my head, then I would have developed low self esteem, leading to depression and social anxiety. Instead, I rose above the negativity, developing an anti-bullying platform that I used to speak to students at schools about the negative consequences of peer pressure. To the girls out there who doubt their potential: you don't need anyone to tell you that you are beautiful or intelligent to know that you are. All that matters in life is how you conduct yourself, and what YOU think about yourself.