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2018 Miss Galaxy Australia Candidate Alicia Van Schoonhoven Wants To Change The Stigma Against Mental Illness

Alicia Van Schoonhoven is determined to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental illness. The public speaker, who was placed 3rd runner-up at the 2017 Miss Galaxy Australia Pageant, built her pageant platform from life experience. She has been heavily involved in promoting healthy mental health through her involvement in The Fear to Freedom Project. The program shares the stories of 10 women, including herself, who have been through difficult hardship, from bullying, to mental illness to domestic violence - "It is necessary to shed some light for others who may currently be experiencing or will experience similar situations in the future" - she explained.

As part of her role as a Mental Health Promotion Officer Alicia travels out to schools and educates high school students about mental health, covering topics such as the different types of mental illness, the risk factors in developing a mental illness, drugs and alcohol, how to look after your mental health, relationships, social media and much more - "I absolutely love what I do and I hope to develop my career further in this field."

Alicia competed in her first pageant in 2013 "I made the Top 30 in Miss World Australia 5 years ago. I remember crying with joy when I received the news that I had made it through to the National Final. This is where my pageant obsession first began" - she said. This year the beauty queen is more than ready to take home the Miss Australia Galaxy Crown - "I am incredibly passionate and when there is something I aspire to achieve, I persevere to make it happen!"

Lets know a little more about Alicia and her preparation for the upcoming pageant through this interview!


You will compete at the Miss Galaxy Australia Pageant, how will you prepare for the contest ?

Miss Galaxy Australia is a pageant that is focussed on giving back and getting involved in the community. In the lead up to the National Final, there are a number of organisations that I have been working closely with including the Ronald McDonald House, Therapy Focus and the St. Patricks Community Support Centre, as well as many others. I have also been working closely with my local business sponsors, Ignite the Night dress hire and Robert Crispin hair salon.

The pageant has a number of categories that are taken into consideration with judging. There are the on-stage sections for fashion wear, swimwear and evening wear and then we have a panel interview before crowning night. Our community contributions are also taken into consideration and we are required to submit a headshot photograph. All of these sections are judged in the process of selecting the next Miss Galaxy Australia. So, there is a lot of preparation that goes on behind the scenes in the lead up to the National Final.

What unique characteristics would you say you bring to the competition?

I am bubby and laid back, and I try not to take myself too seriously all the time. I think it’s important to enjoy yourself when you can and to share joy and laughter along the way.

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alicia van

Photography: Damo Photography
Hair & Make-up: Pearlin Hair & Makeup Artistry

I have also had the privilege of travelling to 22 different countries, most of which have been in the last 2.5 years. These experiences have made me more culturally aware and I believe because of this, I am able to relate to others from all around the world, no matter what their race or religion is. I believe this is such an important quality to have, especially as a title holder, as we should be working together to unite countries and bringing peace to the world.

What inspired you to walk on the course of beauty pageants? 

I always wanted to be involved in beauty pageants from a young age, after watching women like Jennifer Hawkins represent Australia on the international stage. I was always shy as a child and I loved watching how confident beauty queens were and thought it would be incredible to have the opportunity to represent my country.

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Jennifer Hawkins, Miss Universe 2004

I see pageants like Miss Galaxy Australia as a platform to help others and to get involved in the community. I have gained so much from being involved in a number of different pageant systems – much more than I could have ever imagined. My self-confidence has sky-rocketed and I have improved in areas such as public speaking. On top of that I have had many modelling and other opportunities arise and it has been one incredible journey beyond my wildest dreams!

What do you expect to gain by competing in pageantry?

I have gained so much confidence and my self-esteem has improved substantially. I have gained invaluable life skills such as public speaking skills and I have made life-long friends, as well as strong connections with not-for-profit organisations and local businesses. I have had the privilege to work with over 30 different not-for-profit organisations since 2013, which has truly been an incredible experience in itself.

It would be an honour to represent Australia on the international stage and I hope to inspire others to make a difference in any way they can and to encourage others to follow their dreams, despite any obstacles they are faced with.

alicia van schoonhoven

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Social media seems to play a major role in pageantry nowadays. Do you think this is advantageous to you? Why or why not? 

I believe social media is a gateway to many great things however it does also have some disadvantages. For pageantry, one of the greatest advantages of social media is that it can be used to promote causes and not-for-profit organisations. You can reach so many people on social media and can really make a significant difference by using it for this reason. It is also a great form of communication and can be fantastic for friends and family to support their finalists throughout their pageant journey. When utilised in a positive way, social media has the potential for great things.  

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By Terry Lok Photography

Did you face any moment of disappointment with yourself during the pageant journey, and how did you overcome it?

There have been times that I have been disappointed however I believe our setbacks are what allow us to grow. While my dream is to take out the title of Miss Galaxy Australia, I believe I have learnt so much just by being involved in this pageant system and other pageants in previous years. I have grown so much as a person and I have learnt so much about myself. I believe that situations that may seem negative or disappointing at the time, are just situations that change the direction we’re heading in, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. What may seem like a disappointing outcome may actually turn out to be the best thing that has ever happened to you.  

We’ve all seen the stereotypical portrayals of pageant contestants, a la Miss Congeniality, spreading peace, love and beauty throughout the world. How do you think you'll make a difference ?

I have worked with over 30 different not-for-profit organisations since my first pageant in 2013. I have hosted numerous charity events, fundraised for a range of different organisations including Make-A-Wish Australia, the Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors, Cancer Council and many others, as well as having volunteered many hours for many different organisations for a range of fantastic causes.

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I hope that my work in mental health, as a Mental Health Promotion Officer and also through my involvement in The Fear to Freedom project, helps to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness and other challenges, and encourages others to find hope, even in the darkest of times.

I hope to inspire others through the community work I do as both a pageant contestant and in my everyday life. I believe everyone has the opportunity to make a difference and there are so many things that we can do to help others. I hope to share this message and inspire others.

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

Follow your dreams and don’t let the setbacks discourage you from chasing those dreams! It will take a lot of hard work and dedication but make sure you enjoy every moment of the journey. You will learn so much about yourself and the world from being involved in pageantry. Follow your passion, support your causes and make the most of the opportunities that arise from being involved in pageants.

Who is your ideal beauty queen and why?

I aspire to those who keep it real. I love seeing women win titles who are genuine and caring and have wider visions to make the world a better place. Having a title is an honour and I believe it should be used for good to help others and not be taken advantage of. Anyone who stays grounded, in the light of the title, is someone I look up to.

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Thanks to the beautiful Alicia for the interview. Pageants News wishes you all the very best for Miss Galaxy Australia pageant.

 

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