“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and the assurance about what we do not see”, Hebrews 11:1. This verse was a source of inspiration during preparation for Miss San Diego Cities USA 2015. Since my start, within the USA system in 2011, I found defeat time after time, and it was difficult to apply to new pageants, with equal enthusiasm and belief in myself. Yet, my sponsors, Alyssa Whitfield, Jacqueline Pina, Shelia and Shannon Devaney, believed in me, and motivated me to stay persistent, try again. To some, my success appeared the result of a few weeks of pageant rehearsals, but I knew better. It was the result of five years of determination.
After getting to know fellow contestants at pageant rehearsals, I fully understood what an honor it was to be selected as queen. I respect their accomplishments and talents, as well as their ability to push me as a contestant. I believe in Proverbs 27:17, “Iron sharpens iron.” I am a better person because of the incredible woman that stood beside me on stage, and I am thankful for the opportunity, challenge, and the judges faith in my ability as a titleholder.
This experience afforded me countless memorable moments with my sister queen Elan, as well as with the La Mesa and Santee title holders. Between our charitable work with Sharp hospital, makeup lessons with Lisa G, and photoshoots, I lived a year of my dreams. All thanks and glory to God, for providing incredible directors Sierra, Robin, pageant sponsors, my mom, and the Studebaker family, who always welcomed me into their home.
In the world of pageantry, it is difficult to stand out, to maintain and grow confidence. So, I do not expect anyone reading this message to remember or care about the hours I volunteered, made a public appearance, or even to recall my name after today. I only wish that when you see me, you will look beyond the wardrobe, pageant hair and makeup to see the crown and title for what it really is, a dream that never dies. Although the queen may change, the crown remains the same. It is a physical representation of achieved goals, the culmination of the person we long to be. Each of you have a crown to achieve. While the San Diego Cities USA crown is made of rhinestones, your crown may be made of something entirely different, but it is a crown, nonetheless.
My parting wish is to inspire you to reach for your crown and remember this excerpt from the poem, Thinking by Walter D. Wintle, “If you think you are beaten, you are. If you think you dare not, you don’t, if you like to win, but think you can’t, it is almost certain you won’t…Life’s battles don’t always go to the stronger or faster man, but soon or late, the man who wins is the man WHO THINKS HE CAN!” Belief in oneself is the first step towards achieving your goals.
I am excited for the young woman I crown tonight; everything in her life has lead her to this moment. This is her night. But, for those who return home without a crown, do not leave empty handed or discouraged. Be happy for one another, and be happy for yourself, because you are amazing! You took a risk, something most people won’t do, for fear of failure. Your path is different. It might look a little more like mine, it might take you a few times, but it will all be in God’s time.
-Dani Walker, Miss San Diego Cities USA 2015