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What being in a pageant is really like - According to Serena Sammons, your National All-American Miss Teen

The National American Miss pageant has a reputation for being a “natural” pageant. Its motto? “Growing girls’ confidence.” The contest promotes valuable life skills as well – it provided the opportunity to practice interviewing, go out into the community to ask for sponsors, and improve my public speaking skills. The possibility of scholarships certainly added an extra incentive. 

As the reigning National All-American Miss Teen Serena Sammons serves as one of the twelve national representatives for the organization. Along with her others sisters queens, they use their titles to promote the system and their motto of “Growing Confidence.” They also use their time to give back to their communities through volunteer work and their program of NAM Serves - "So far this year, I have volunteered with my local theatre, the California Miss Amazing Pageant, and Make-A-Wish OCIE. I also get to go on a little “Summer Tour” when I finish up school this June where I will be attending a number of state pageants as visiting royalty. I’m super excited to finish up school just because I absolutely cannot wait to visit these state pageants and meet all of the amazing contestants" - she explained.

After the summer tour finishes, Serena will be in the homestretch for NAM Nationals 2018 where she’ll be crowning her successor. "It’s almost bittersweet thinking about it but luckily I still have about six months until then!"


Did you plan to compete in another pageant in the future ? Which one ?

Ooh, this is definitely a tough one. I’ve competed with National American Miss for eight going on nine years and I’ve only ever competed in two other pageant systems. Little fun fact: this title is my first ever pageant title! I’ve actually never won the state title for National American Miss. I think if anything I would love to come back and try for the California state title one last time as a Miss! I guess we’ll just have to see!

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

When I was younger, I didn’t really know what pageants were. I had watched Miss USA and Miss Universe on TV multiple times but I never thought I could become one. One day, when I was about eleven years old, I got a letter in the mail for a NAM open call. That one open call was really what got me started! As cliche as it is, going to that first open call truly opened my eyes to a different world of pageantry. I was willing to give it a shot so with my parents support, I went for it. Eight years later and here I am still going strong!

What do you expect to gain by competing in pageantry?

I feel as though I’ve already gained so much through competing in pageantry. Through National American Miss, I’ve gained self-confidence, interview skills, AND public speaking skills. Once I move onto other pageant systems, I hope to further work and improve on these skills. From giving business presentations, to being interviewed for various jobs, I can say without a doubt that I would not be where I am today had I never competed in pageantry.  

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Tell me something about yourself and your work. What do you actually do, and have done in the past?

I’m currently a second year Business Administration major, concentrating in Management at the University of California, Riverside. I actually work on campus for my university’s pep band! Aside from helping out the pep band conductor with music related items, I also help him out in student life with campus t-shirt giveaways and basically anything else he needs help with. However, I will be leaving UC Riverside next quarter. This is because I was accepted into the Disney College Program at the Disneyland Resort! I will be simulanteoulsy working as a retail sales associate and hopefully taking a class through the program to further my business skills and gain a better understanding of the Walt Disney Company. 

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

I personally feel it’s advantageous because it’s a way to connect with the entirety of the pageant community. From competing at NAM Nationals, I’ve met girls from all across the United States. Social media gives me a way to keep up with all of them, even if I don’t talk to them very much. It’s also wonderful to simply see how everyone is doing and what they’re accomplishing in their lives. Just recently, National American Miss started official Instagram accounts for their National titleholders specifically for the titleholder to use during her reign for all pageant-related activities. I use the account to post about volunteer work, helping out with NAM open calls, and also use it as an excuse to post more pictures from our official photoshoot back in January. 

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

Competing for eight years without winning a title definitely gave me doubts about my ability to win a title. Although I was always proud of how i did each year, some years were harder than others. Going from placing in the court at state AND nationals one year, and not even placing at state again the year after was really hard on me. Two of my best (pageant) friends, who had both won state titles for NAM in the past, always told me “something better is coming.” I always held this to my heart and truly believed something better really was coming. Well I can definitely say for a fact, something amazing was coming and all I had to do was compete in NAM the year after. 

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

As a future Disney Cast Member and a very big Broadway fan, I have two quotes for all the young girls out there who dream of being a queen. “All you dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them” -Walt Disney & “She believed she could, so she did” -Idina Menzel. I’ve lived by these quotes for all of my years of competing in pageantry. They’ve inspired me each year to continue competing until I have reached my goal. Of course I can’t forget the biggest piece of advice when pursuing the crown: be yourself. I know every pageant girl has heard it at some point in their life time but I absolutely cannot stress this enough. I’m a pretty goofy person and I try not to take life too seriously when I’m having fun. I want the judges to laugh and get to know the goofy side fo the poised and confident pageant girl. Stay true to yourself and your personality and the judges will see that. 

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