The last weekend in June, Independence High School Junior Carol Hill will compete in the Miss North Carolina Teen Pageant in Winston-Salem.
The competition for girls ages 16 through 18 is a National American Miss Pageant, a self-proclaimed “pageant unlike any other” whose goal is to help its competitors grow in confidence and learn real world skills. NAM is a program designed for the modern girl and centered around fostering positive self-image. It helps young women focus on their futures by expanding their ideas of who they are and what they want to achieve. Ultimately, NAM encourages these young women to pursue their dreams and teaches valuable skills that will help them turn those dreams into reality.
When she first received information about NAM in the mail, Hill, who has never participated in a pageant before, was reluctant. After reading more about the program and the principles behind it, her friends and family encouraged her to give it a shot, and Hill decided to attend an information session. Hearing prior pageant winners speak about struggles they overcame and how NAM helped them to gain confidence and practice public speaking skills impressed Hill, and she decided to give it a try.
While walking on stage in a formal dress is what most people probably imagine when they hear the word “pageant,” formal wear is only one of the four required categories in which Hill will compete the weekend of June 29. In the formal wear competition, all contestants are encouraged to choose a color and style of dress that makes them comfortable and represents their unique personality.
The other three categories of competition are personal introduction, interview and resume. In her personal introduction, Hill will showcase her ability to present herself professionally and confidently on stage while speaking effectively into a microphone. In a one-on-one interview with the judges, Hill will showcase interview skills like making eye contact, speaking confidently and sitting properly. In both of these competitions, the judges look for someone who can engage in fun, intelligent conversation with an adult about her personality and ambitions. All of the competitions are meant to equip girls with valuable skills for “real life.”
In addition to the four required categories, NAM offers contestants the opportunity to participate in several optional contests to showcase their individual interests and talents. Hill plans to compete in two optional contests, the “Top Model Search” and “Photogenic” competitions.
Hill will be competing for an impressive prize package awarded to state champions in each age division: a one thousand dollar cash award; an official state crown, banner, trophy and roses; the opportunity to compete in the National Pageant with airfare and entry fees paid; a tour of Hollywood; a VIP day at Disneyland; and hotel expenses for the following year’s pageant in order to crown her successor.
However, the prizes don’t matter as much to Hill as the experience. Regardless of the outcome, Hill is excited to make new friends and grow in confidence as she approaches her senior year. Hill believes the training she attended to prepare for the pageant has already helped her improve at presenting herself effectively on stage and speaking confidently about herself.
Hill hopes the skills she learns through NAM will help her in her future career as a surgeon. Although her junior year is just coming to a close, Hill already has her future mapped out. She hopes to pursue a premed major at the University of Alabama, where her uncle lives and works, followed by medical school at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Hill was impressed by Alabama’s beautiful campus, great sports program and #1 ranking in the state for medical school.
In the meantime, Hill will continue working hard at Independence, where she takes a demanding schedule of AP and honors classes and was recently inducted into the National Honor Society. Hill also works at Bojangles, where she is training to become a manager. She hopes to be on student council next year. As for pageants? She’ll make up her mind about whether they have a place in her future once she sees how her first NAM pageant goes.