My what skills you have!

USA National has begun in Boca Raton! The resort here is breath-taking, simply gorgeous! I would live here in a heart beat! Second year we are here so I already know all the good spots to practice, shortcuts, etc. Let's face it - I was exhausted when I arrived here, but my TCM girls here needed me so work began! After downing a couple of bottles of Neuro Sonic, I felt right as rain. Orientation was great and Monday, group and private sessions began. I would like for you to first meet TCM girl, Desi Templet.

Desi came to me not even one year ago. (She will celebrate 1 year in August.) I remember meeting this shy little 12 year old who sat quietly and observing the situation she had been put in. Her mother, Misti, had reached out to me after July's LA National American Miss state pageant. We had several TCM girls compete, one of which took home the state preteen title - Alaina Walker. She told me on the phone that she noticed TCM girls, our successes, and more importantly, our team work. Yes - TCM is a pageant competition team. (TCM has several girls competing against each other in the same division and/or same pageant systems. TCM strives to build each other up rather than see each other as competition. I try very hard to promote healthy competition.) Misti described her daughter's personality to me. She explained her daughter's strengths and weaknesses, and she explained what she wanted her daughter to gain. She wanted to be a part of our team. So we scheduled a meeting and met on a Monday immediately after my summer season ended. They arrived at my house and they sat on the couch as we began chatting. Desi was quiet, only contributed to the conversation when she had to, so I decided to basically force her into the conversation to test her interview skills. I don't tell them it's a real interview. I just ask questions, sit, observe, listen and take notes. They gain the sensation of having a conversation rather than the nervousness of an "interview." She really was quite charming ... once she warmed up to me. After about an hour, she start freely chatting away and let her funny personality shine through. She was a keeper!

The next few months Desi tested her skills through competition and each time she competed, she got better and better. Not to mention, her determination got stronger. She wanted to continue. She wanted to keep pushing herself. She worked tirelessly with her volunteerism, which gained her a Girl of the Month title - a rarity for 1st year TCM girl. During the Girl of the Year selection process, Desi earned her way into the Top 3 with her touching video essay.

Fast forward to LA State National American Miss in May 2017. Desi had already earned a way to the USA National Miss pageant in July so this was practice for nationals. Desi had practiced and practiced, having become more natural in her interview conversation. Unsure at first, Desi settled into a new casual wear modeling style and floated in her evening wear because of her confidence she had gained. For three years they had tried to break top 10 at state and this year Desi finally broke top 10! She was the LAST ONE called and I just knew that it was her spot. One by one they began calling out the top five and placements. Wouldn't you know it - Desi not only broke top 10 but she earned herself 2RU along with a Casual Wear award PLUS the Volunteer Service Award. Desi and her mother was ecstatic! I was over the moon for her! She just shined and beamed - she had worked hard for her accomplishments and it had been wonderful to watch her transformation so far.

Through Desi's practices, every time she speaks, she transforms into a different person. She becomes a strong & confident, with a sincere, yet commanding voice. I can vision her walking into a board room as the president of some major corporation and basically running the world. This has been the greatest thing to watch about Desi's transformation - her public speaking and interview skills. These are skills she will use for a lifetime and it all started here, in pageants. This is Desi's first nationals and she has truly been enjoying herself. It has been a joy to watch. She's been making friends, living in the moment - truly just enjoying the UNM experience.

Pageants have a bad rep sometimes - but I promise you from my first hand experience they have changed my life from the first time my foot hit the stage. I earned college scholarships through my volunteerism and pageant winnings that I was able to attend college for free. Yes, I said FREE. Because of my volunteerism, I won the National Coca-Cola and National Toyota Scholarships, along with many others that all gave me a free pass for college.

And it all happened because of pageants ... and volunteerism! So when you hear someone talk about pageants and you think pageants are a waste of time, energy, and money - think about all the things your daughter could gain that will further her career. She can gain confidence, strong public speaking skills, fantastic interview skills, multi-tasking, adaptability, problem-solving, prioritization, and so much more. Skills like that are priceless.