So it’s pageant season again. Of course — and I almost want to add “as usual” — last week’s Miss USA finals provided plenty of fodder for nearly every media outlet who couldn’t help replaying Miss Utah’s inability to speak extemporaneously. Who hasn’t had that brain-fart moment when the synapses don’t connect and your mouth and brain feel a million miles apart? Unfortunately for Miss Utah, she had her moment on broadcast television and it will live forever in infamy.
This week I’m attending the Miss Wisconsin preliminaries and finals. We’re hoping for another Miss America – Wisconsin only has two so far, but the two we have are exceptional women and we’re proud of both. The Miss America state preliminaries have been going on for a few weeks and will continue into July when all 53 representatives (50 states plus D.C., Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands) will be crowned and then prepare for the return of Miss America program in Atlantic City in September. Of course, in Atlantic City there’s always more pageantry going on in the lobby and the boardwalk than on stage, but as the program has shifted to more of a service focus, underneath all the sequins, rhinestones and shiny lip-gloss, we can’t forget how this program is helping communities.
A few months ago, I wrote of my participation in this scholarship program and it fueled my passion for service work with literacy programs and volunteering.
Well, during last night’s competition, the contestants discussed their service platform programs and how they are influencing a community, a group or even just one person. Their causes are as diverse as the contestants’ eveningwear but their passion is what makes you take a second look. These young women are between 18-24 years of age, and it’s thrilling to know they won’t be lumped into the stereotypical complaints of Generation Y – they are not lackadaisical, unmotivated or lazy.
It’s an interesting concept – to give of your time even when there isn’t much to give. These women attend higher education, work and have active social lives, and yet they still donate time and energy to a cause. It’s not just time management, but also a sense of responsibility to make their community a better place. And it becomes a positive trickle-down effect. The young lady gets involved with a cause, then her family and friends support her, and then the community, and then it continues to expand. There’s a lot of talk how this generation and the one to follow spend too much time buried in computer games, video games and mobile phones and don’t do anything. We worry about their impaired interpersonal communications and social skills. Maybe if someone creates an app that challenges them to make a difference, we’d see a shift in perception and action. Then when naysayers try to come down on them for their apathy, they could say ‘maybe that was once true, but that’s not my generation anymore.’