"And the new Miss Alaska Junior National Teen-Ager is... Contestant Number Three, Kristin Lee Hamerski!" At that moment, so many thoughts and emotions ran through my head. I was mystified, excited and curious about the road ahead.
This one event changed so much of my life. Yet most homeschooled girls seem unaware of the possibilities and benefits of pageant competition. Let me share with you what I've learned about how the pageant process works, and how to do well in a pageant.
The Benefits of Winning a Pageant
Need college money? A pageant may provide what you're looking for! At the state competition I not only won the title, Miss Alaska Junior National Teen-Ager, but I also won the Volunteer Community Service Award, the Citizenship Award (leadership), the Essay/Speech Award, and over $30,000 in scholarships to mostly Christian colleges. Many other girls competing in the program won scholarships and other awards; this program doesn't just give all the awards to one girl.
After winning the Miss AK Jr. title I was very excited to begin my one-year reign. I started by attending many different functions: The Alaska Women's Show, homeschool conventions, The Air Show, volunteer events, and many, many more. I met with many politicians, sharing with them what homeschooling means to me, as well. I also spoke before organizations, such as The National Rifle Association's Convention. I have also continued donating my time to Special Olympics; I am working on becoming a certified Special Olympics Figure Skating Coach!
Although I truly enjoyed all the functions I went to, I especially was thrilled to be featured in parades around the state. I celebrated our patriotism at the Fourth of July Parade, and enjoying our Alaska heritage in the Alaska State Fair Parade and the Fur Rendezvous Parade. My year was amazing in so many ways.
Finally, even if you enter and don't win any of the prizes, you'll have gained valuable experience in poise and presentation skills. And for younger girls looking forward to future pageant competition, knowing you'll be asked about your community service and academics, and that everyone will be able to see the results of your physical education program, may provide some focus and incentive to work harder in these areas.
What Is the National Teen-Ager Program?
Alaska's National Teen-Ager Scholarship Program is the local level (for my state) of America's National Teen-Ager (ANT). This program is not for models, so you don't have to be a size 1 to win; it's for real girls with strong academics and ambition. Furthermore, and perhaps most importantly, this program is predominantly Christian.
ANT has two age groups: Junior for ages 12-15 and Senior for ages 16-18.
First, and by far one of the most important aspects of the competition is putting together a professional Application. The Application is a summary of your academics and grade-point average (GPA), along with your awards, hobbies, other honors, and volunteer work. Homeschoolers can have their parents prepare transcripts on the computer, putting the name of the homeschool, list of classes, and grades, which is needed for competition. Some of the hobbies I listed were: dog showing, figure skating, arts & crafts, singing, guitar, hiking, Church, and spending time with my family. The honors section includes some awards, but is used more for an honor, such as being published in a magazine. My main focus in volunteer work is working with Special Olympics, but you can list as many organizations or people that you have volunteered for as you wish.
Secondly, there is an interview portion. There are about five or six judges and you have about 3-5 minutes with each judge. At the state level interview you discuss the information on your application. If you win your state competition and proceed on to the National level the questions will then be centered on your state as well as your application. For the interview portion a nice suit or dress is appropriate. One of the best tips for success I can give here is, remember the judges are people too. Just think of it like you're meeting a new friend, God will help you with the rest!
Thirdly, ANT also includes an evening gown competition. It's lots of fun getting all dressed up in a big fancy gown. Everyone enjoys this part. You are shown how to walk on stage. Each girl is graded on her personality and poise. So smile big!
Lastly, at the state level girls get the option to compete in either Talent or Essay/Speech. If you don't want to compete in either of these it won't affect winning the title; however, I found it very helpful with stage practice. Talent can be just about anything, I usually sing. Try to choose a song, dance, or musical selection the judges might know. Choose something famous from a musical or other well-known piece, or something that has strong emotion. Also, keep in mind that what you choose should reflect your belief and personality. The Essay/Speech competition is the other option open to contestants. You receive the opportunity to write an essay on "What's Right About America" or about your volunteer community service work. Then you memorize your essay and deliver it. Be very true to yourself; write about what you believe in and project that belief to the judges and the audience. I have truly enjoyed this aspect of the competition, mostly due to the fact that I love to express myself.
What It's Like at the National Competition
The trip to Nashville, Tennessee, for the National competition was a truly wonderful event. I stayed in the world-famous Opryland Hotel for a week and every day was jam packed full of exciting and new experiences. Besides the museums, and historical places, and of course shopping, all the state queens did have to get ready for the National competition. Everything was about the same as the state competition, just bigger.
Again, your application is very important. Interviews are a close second. Remember, know your application, and feel comfortable talking about it. For practice I usually get my adult friends to interview me. This is very helpful and it can be a lot of fun. In addition, there is the Evening gown competition and each state queen is required to compete in Talent or Essay. These competitions are all concluded before the actual finals night. Finals night consists of an upbeat opening dance number (all appropriate dancing), and a production number for each of the two age groups, juniors and seniors. The top talent and essay winners perform, and then the moment everyone waits for all week... the naming of the winners. When I was named into the Top 10 it felt as if I could do just about anything!
After Nationals I was blessed to go on a "Santa U.S.A." trip to Dallas, Texas, with many other state queens and the National Director. This was a volunteer trip dedicated to bringing Christmas to those who otherwise wouldn't have a very merry one. Together we visited nursing homes, elementary schools, and the Scottish Rite Hospital. We handed out presents and candy, gave autographs, took pictures, and sang Christmas carols. To me, that Christmas brought home the true sense of the blessing I have in my faith. Never take for granted the success you already have.
In January of 2002 I was honored to be invited to a speech President Bush gave at one of our Alaskan Air Force Bases. I will forever remember and treasure that day; his speech gave me another reason to stand by my beliefs. Then in March of 2002 I went down to Orlando, Florida, and greeted people from all over the world at Walt Disney World.
I feel blessed to have had these opportunities to meet people from all over the USA, and the world, people who I can share my faith with and people who I will cherish as friends forever.
Kristin's Beauty Tips
Kristin didn't start out as a glamorous pageant princess! Here's Kristen's tips for how a nice, normal girl can upgrade to pageant quality.
A Beautiful Mind
- Learn as much as you can. Beauty and brains are a knockout combo!
- Have the correct mindset. Life is precious. Enjoy every minute!
- Think positive. Beautiful thoughts equal a beautiful person.
- Go to pageants and watch the winners. Study poise, walking, and on-stage questions.
- Use the Internet to research pageants.
A Beautiful Body
- Fitness: Make exercising fun, play sports, walk the dog, hike, (any fitness activity you enjoy) etc.
- Nutrition: Eat all kinds of different foods, but in moderation. Combine this with the correct amount of vitamins.
- Appearance: Use make-up, and pick clothes that compliment you. Don't try to be someone else. Beauty is unique to every person.
- Go to your local department stores (J.C. Penny, Nordstroms, etc.). The people there can help you figure out what make-up colors, and what clothing colors/styles fit your body type and personality. These store's makeovers are usually done for free. Also, many hairdressers give free professional image consultations.
A Beautiful Soul
- Let your inward beauty shine through. Your faith is part of who you are; let it shine in you!
- Focus your energy on showing who you are as a person. Set goals, strengthen your weaknesses, and keep strong your strengths.
- The best beauty tip of all... smile, it's irresistible!
Among her many other achievements, 16-year-old homeschooler Kristin Lee Hamerski is the 2001 Miss Alaska Junior National Teen-Ager and a three-time Grand Champion winner in the Alaska State Fair. She has taken First Place in the State Science Fair and is a National and Grand National award winner for National Junior Horticultural Association. Kristin has received the Spirit of Youth Award for Participation in Business & Government and has won many State Figure Skating awards as well as many State, National, and International dog showing awards in conformation and Junior Showmanship. In addition, Kristin has received awards and honors from many volunteer organizations as well as an extensive collection of academic awards in the areas of citizenship, speech, writing, and more. She is also the owner/founder of her own company dedicated to helping people with various needs in the community.