Many freshman students begin college overwhelmed with school work, extracurricular practices, new friends and adjusting to a different life away from home. Elizabeth Naviaux began orientation weekend with something else on her mind: pageants. For her, orientation weekend meant missing a preliminary round in the competition for Miss Iowa. However, she wasn’t too disappointed because she knew she would get to compete on Nov. 1.
Naviaux started competing in pageants her freshman year of high school. While at dance class, she saw a poster her teacher had on display in the lobby. Originally, Naviaux wanted to do pageants so she could keep on performing dances because she has been dancing for fifteen years.
After competing in the Irish Miss Pageant with a dance solo over St. Patrick’s Day, Naviaux knew she wanted to continue doing competitions.
“I wanted to go above and beyond just local pageants,” Naviaux said.
Naviaux prepared for her second pageant during the summer before her senior year of high school, this time competing for Miss Kossuth Winnebago. This pageant was very important to Naviaux as it was a preliminary round for the Miss Iowa competition.
For this pageant Naviaux not only had to preform her dance solo, but she also had to promote awareness on a topic of her choice through extensive research and advocacy. Naviaux chose suicide prevention.
“My step-dad committed suicide, and so did three teens in our area,” she said. “I want to spread awareness for the warning signs and what people should do if they occur.”
Naviaux felt this topic was very personal and relatable for her as she had experienced the effects of it firsthand.
“I’ve felt alone, and I want other teens to know they’re not alone in feelings and in grieving,” Naviaux said. “This is a subject not everyone’s willing to touch.”
Although Naviaux didn’t win the pageant, it did get her more involved in the Children’s Miracle Network, which is linked with the Miss America Organization.
The Children’s Miracle Network allows Miss America contestants to, instead of having an entry fee for the competition, raise and donate money to local children’s hospitals for research, equipment and medical expenses to families with financial struggles. Naviaux sees this as another big reason she loves the pageants.
“I’m not paying to be judged,” she said. “I get to help people become more aware of uncompensated care.”
Donations toward this organization can be made by going to www.missamericaforkids.org. Once there, a person can search for the contestant they want to donate through.
All funds will go toward the Children’s Miracle Network and the Miss America Scholarship Fund, which offers college scholarships to those competing in the pageants.
Naviaux views the pageants as great learning experiences for her future career. Not only do they help improve her public speaking skills, but they also help her think on her feet and develop more social and communication skills.
Naviaux is majoring in Spanish education at NW this year and hopes to be able to continue public speaking for the rest of her life. She hopes that by competing through the Miss America Organization, she can get her foot in the door for many more public speaking opportunities in high schools, colleges or teen groups who might be struggling with suicide.
“Having a crown and sash makes people a lot more willing to listen to you,” Naviaux said. “If you have that title, people feel like you are a more reliable person.”
Naviaux hopes that she can not only represent herself well, but also be a role model to younger girls.
Naviaux said one of the most important things to do when preparing for a pageant is to stay up-to-date on current events.
“People like to know that you know what’s going on in the world,” Naviaux said.
Naviaux’s next pageant will be will be held in Feb. of 2015.