Miss Utah Competing for Miss USA


Photo courtesy of Justin Grant Photography

Soben Huon, Utah’s first minority Miss Utah, will go on to compete in the Miss USA Pageant in Baltimore.

Growing up with three older brothers, Huon Huon often felt like the black sheep. Since she was the only girl, her brothers frequently teased her about being adopted. During Cambodian classical ballet she was always assigned to be the male character because she was a little bit taller than the rest of the other girls.

“I had such a complex with that,” she said with a smile on her face. “I really thought I was meant to be a boy at that point, so I stopped doing it.”

Since then, Huon has figured out who she is and what she wants.

She no longer questions her identity and has blossomed into a woman. She won the title of Miss Utah in November 2005, and she leaves this Sunday for the East Coast to begin preparations for the April 21, 2006, Miss USA Pageant in Baltimore.

“Before Nov. 12, I had my goals set and my life planned out,” she said. “But as of right now I can honestly say I don’t know which direction I’ll go.”

Going into Miss Utah, Huon was somewhat concerned about her ethnicity because Utah has never had a minority representative.

“It really worked to my benefit,” she said. “I am glad the judges were able to overcome that.”

However, Huon is not only the first minority to represent Utah, she is also the first Cambodian USA title holder, said Abbie Scott, state director for the Miss Utah USA pageant.

“I now realize the magnitude of her winning the Miss Utah title for the Cambodian community,” said Kaony Huon, Huon’s second oldest brother.

Coming out to BYU and competing for Miss Utah is a huge accomplishment because the Cambodian culture is very family oriented and close knit, Scott said. Many of the Cambodian communities have asked Huon to appear at different events nationwide.

In preparation for Miss USA, Huon’s schedule is jam-packed; therefore, she is taking this semester off. She spends a few days each week attending interviews and getting in shape. She also makes two to three appearances a week at various charity events. She is a big proponent of breast cancer awareness. Huon also attends promotional appearances and visits elementary schools throughout Utah as well.

In addition, attaining a custom-designed, tailored wardrobe is a top priority. And although service hours are not required, Huon spends a substantial amount of her time performing community service.

“Huon doesn’t really have time to do school and prepare to compete in Miss USA,” Scott said. “Doing both would definitely take its toll.”

Whether she wins the crown or not Huon said she intends to finish school. She is majoring in political science, with an emphasis in international relations. One of her of her goals is to attend the J. Reuben Clark Law School.

“Before Miss Utah, school was her main priority,” said Haydee Cifuentes, Huon’s best friend. “She is dedicated beyond what I think she would have to be dedicated.”

Huon said she is very interested in politics and greatly admires Condoleezza Rice.

“I don’t plan on being in such a high position as she is, but I really do admire her hard work and dreams in fulfilling that,” she said.

Winning Miss Utah was a turning point in her life, but her decision to get baptized at age 16 was an even bigger turning point.

“It really affected my decision to go to BYU and it affects my decisions all together,” she said. “Every decision I make is with the gospel in mind.”

Huon is the only member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in her family, but she said they are very supportive in every aspect of her life.

“She has always shown dedication to the gospel and is very dynamic and friendly,” said Rick Kinateder, Huon’s bishop for the past two years.

Despite Huon’s accomplishments and sheer beauty, she has remained down to earth and genuine.

“She was pretty humbled by winning Miss Utah,” said Sean Sullivan, a BYU business management major, who has been Huon’s good friend for the last couple of years. “I remember it took awhile for it to sink in. Weeks after she won she was still grasping the fact that she is Miss Utah now.”

Her best friend Cifuentes said she was worried that winning the title and being in the spotlight would go to her head. She thought Huon might forget the basics and fundamentals of who she is.

“I have been above and beyond impressed on how she has completely stayed very level headed,” Cifuentes said. “She is humble, hard working and continually strives to develop Huon as a woman and not just Huon as Miss Utah.”

Huon’s friends, family and colleagues have high hopes for her when she competes for the Miss USA crown in April.

“We hope and pray she wins,” said Kaony Huon, her brother. “I know she is destined to do great things, and Miss Utah is the perfect example of what she is capable of. We hope it will open up bigger opportunities for her.”

Abbie Scott, the director for Miss Utah USA, said the judges are looking for a businesswoman with classic beauty. They want a woman who is well mannered, well cultured, has high morals, is well educated and charistmatic.

“Huon emulates all of those qualities and in that sense the odds are in her favor,” Scott said.

Huon leaves on April 2 to New York to compete for the title of Miss USA. The competition begins the moment she steps off the plane. She said the competition is much like being on camera, and she has to be on her best behavior – at all times.

However, Huon said she knows if she doesn’t win it is not the end of the world.

“It is so easy, within the juxtaposition of things, to lose yourself,” she said. “I am content with my Miss Utah title, and I love representing the state of Utah. I am not going to sell myself short though, I am going to give it my all.”

By Jessica Mallard – 28 Mar 2006

Source: http://newsnet.byu.edu/story.cfm/59082



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Miss Utah Competing for Miss USA


Photo courtesy of Justin Grant Photography

Soben Huon, Utah’s first minority Miss Utah, will go on to compete in the Miss USA Pageant in Baltimore.

Growing up with three older brothers, Huon Huon often felt like the black sheep. Since she was the only girl, her brothers frequently teased her about being adopted. During Cambodian classical ballet she was always assigned to be the male character because she was a little bit taller than the rest of the other girls.

“I had such a complex with that,” she said with a smile on her face. “I really thought I was meant to be a boy at that point, so I stopped doing it.”

Since then, Huon has figured out who she is and what she wants.

She no longer questions her identity and has blossomed into a woman. She won the title of Miss Utah in November 2005, and she leaves this Sunday for the East Coast to begin preparations for the April 21, 2006, Miss USA Pageant in Baltimore.

“Before Nov. 12, I had my goals set and my life planned out,” she said. “But as of right now I can honestly say I don’t know which direction I’ll go.”

Going into Miss Utah, Huon was somewhat concerned about her ethnicity because Utah has never had a minority representative.

“It really worked to my benefit,” she said. “I am glad the judges were able to overcome that.”

However, Huon is not only the first minority to represent Utah, she is also the first Cambodian USA title holder, said Abbie Scott, state director for the Miss Utah USA pageant.

“I now realize the magnitude of her winning the Miss Utah title for the Cambodian community,” said Kaony Huon, Huon’s second oldest brother.

Coming out to BYU and competing for Miss Utah is a huge accomplishment because the Cambodian culture is very family oriented and close knit, Scott said. Many of the Cambodian communities have asked Huon to appear at different events nationwide.

In preparation for Miss USA, Huon’s schedule is jam-packed; therefore, she is taking this semester off. She spends a few days each week attending interviews and getting in shape. She also makes two to three appearances a week at various charity events. She is a big proponent of breast cancer awareness. Huon also attends promotional appearances and visits elementary schools throughout Utah as well.

In addition, attaining a custom-designed, tailored wardrobe is a top priority. And although service hours are not required, Huon spends a substantial amount of her time performing community service.

“Huon doesn’t really have time to do school and prepare to compete in Miss USA,” Scott said. “Doing both would definitely take its toll.”

Whether she wins the crown or not Huon said she intends to finish school. She is majoring in political science, with an emphasis in international relations. One of her of her goals is to attend the J. Reuben Clark Law School.

“Before Miss Utah, school was her main priority,” said Haydee Cifuentes, Huon’s best friend. “She is dedicated beyond what I think she would have to be dedicated.”

Huon said she is very interested in politics and greatly admires Condoleezza Rice.

“I don’t plan on being in such a high position as she is, but I really do admire her hard work and dreams in fulfilling that,” she said.

Winning Miss Utah was a turning point in her life, but her decision to get baptized at age 16 was an even bigger turning point.

“It really affected my decision to go to BYU and it affects my decisions all together,” she said. “Every decision I make is with the gospel in mind.”

Huon is the only member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in her family, but she said they are very supportive in every aspect of her life.

“She has always shown dedication to the gospel and is very dynamic and friendly,” said Rick Kinateder, Huon’s bishop for the past two years.

Despite Huon’s accomplishments and sheer beauty, she has remained down to earth and genuine.

“She was pretty humbled by winning Miss Utah,” said Sean Sullivan, a BYU business management major, who has been Huon’s good friend for the last couple of years. “I remember it took awhile for it to sink in. Weeks after she won she was still grasping the fact that she is Miss Utah now.”

Her best friend Cifuentes said she was worried that winning the title and being in the spotlight would go to her head. She thought Huon might forget the basics and fundamentals of who she is.

“I have been above and beyond impressed on how she has completely stayed very level headed,” Cifuentes said. “She is humble, hard working and continually strives to develop Huon as a woman and not just Huon as Miss Utah.”

Huon’s friends, family and colleagues have high hopes for her when she competes for the Miss USA crown in April.

“We hope and pray she wins,” said Kaony Huon, her brother. “I know she is destined to do great things, and Miss Utah is the perfect example of what she is capable of. We hope it will open up bigger opportunities for her.”

Abbie Scott, the director for Miss Utah USA, said the judges are looking for a businesswoman with classic beauty. They want a woman who is well mannered, well cultured, has high morals, is well educated and charistmatic.

“Huon emulates all of those qualities and in that sense the odds are in her favor,” Scott said.

Huon leaves on April 2 to New York to compete for the title of Miss USA. The competition begins the moment she steps off the plane. She said the competition is much like being on camera, and she has to be on her best behavior – at all times.

However, Huon said she knows if she doesn’t win it is not the end of the world.

“It is so easy, within the juxtaposition of things, to lose yourself,” she said. “I am content with my Miss Utah title, and I love representing the state of Utah. I am not going to sell myself short though, I am going to give it my all.”

By Jessica Mallard – 28 Mar 2006

Source: http://newsnet.byu.edu/story.cfm/59082



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Beautiful in her own way

It’s easy to tell when Monica Pang has entered a room. Heads snap in her direction, jaws slacken considerably and unrelenting stares ensue.

Still, the slender Pang who is the reigning Miss Georgia and first runner-up in this year’s Miss America pageant in Las Vegas, insists she is no beauty queen.

“We call ourselves title holders,” says an adamant Pang with a slight, southern drawl.

“Beauty queen sounds so fluffy,” adds the 25-year-old from Atlanta, Georgia. “There is so much more involved when you’re in a pageant. You have to be a person of substance.”

It would seem that Pang – who has a Malaysian-born father – knows what she’s talking about. “Because the Miss America programme is scholarship based, all these girls are interested in furthering their studies and becoming successful, and a part of it is to be beautiful in your own way.”

Having competed in least 15 pageants since the age of 15 and winning almost half of them, Pang recently graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in Consumer Journalism, with honours on the Dean’s and President’s lists.

“Most people know that I’m in pageants but they don’t really know my personality outside of pageants, and I think if they knew, they’d be very surprised,” says Pang, who professes to be more of a sporty personality than a girly one.

She is in Kuala Lumpur to introduce herself to the Malaysian media, and is gearing up for a break in the Asian entertainment industry.

This Tuesday morning, she is flitting about the Cigar Divan lounge at the Eastin Hotel in Section 16, Petaling Jaya, in between a seemingly endless number of costume changes for a photo shoot.

Not much of a label snob, Pang prefers casual and comfortable, over frilly and complicated.

“I like fashion, but I’m not stuck on designers. I like what’s comfortable, and I’m not too frou frou.

“I like to stick with solid colours and accessorise more than anything else.

“On this trip, I’ve brought pieces from BCBG Max Azria, Anthropologie, Trina Turk and Armani Exchange.”

Pang is not much of a label snob, preferring comfort with style. – Pictures by ART CHEN

Having arrived past midnight the same morning, Pang looks anything but jet-lagged despite a 21-hour flight from Atlanta.

“I can sleep anywhere. And the flight was not as bad as I had expected.”

Pang was last in Malaysia 12 years ago to visit relatives in Kluang, Johor, where her father, Peter, is from.

“I don’t remember much except for the traffic and street vendors.”

Family time has not been pencilled into her schedule this time around, but she has plans to come back later this year.

“It’s sad that I came all this way and don’t have time to see them because they live in Kluang, but I’m hoping to come back to visit them. Most of my dad’s side is here – my grandparents, a few aunts, uncles and cousins,” says Pang, who leaves Malaysia tomorrow.

“I’ll be going back to Georgia to finish off my Miss Georgia reign which ends in June, and am hoping that there will be opportunities here that I can come back to pursue,” she says.

Absolute Entertainment, an event and talent management company in Sri Hartamas, Kuala Lumpur, is managing Pang’s maiden foray into the regional entertainment scene.

“She’s got so much more potential in Asia because of her Asian heritage,” says Adrian Wong, the director and founder of Absolute, adding that several parties in China were already keen on signing her up for movie deals.

Not that Pang doesn’t already have her plate piled high. And wide.

She resigned from her job at a media representation firm last year and now spends most of her time travelling around the United States to speak to youths and advocate community work.

“The Miss America programme is very heavily based on community service, so each girl chooses what we call a platform to work on, and we speak about that to encourage the community and the state to get more involved with that. I speak to a lot of students and businesses about that.

Pang’s platform is America’s Promise, an initiative founded by US Secretary of State Colin Powell to empower American youths through education, living skills and community involvement.

“I do fund-raising for that and try to encourage as many different kinds of community projects as possible.”

Accessorising is Monica Pang’s forte. Here, she pairs an Anthropologie skirt with a strappy top and matching cardigan.

She acknowledges that making sacrifices are a part of what she does.

Keeping her lean, svelte figure the way it is, is one of them.

”Working out is a big part of it for the fitness factor. And I miss my friends. Because I’m away so often, work does get in the way of my social life, but that’s what I have to sacrifice.

“It hasn’t discouraged me because I’ve realised that anything worth having in life is worth working for and sacrificing a few things along the way to get there.”

Sacrifices aside, Pang wouldn’t give up her current role for anything.

“I really enjoy doing different things and meeting new people every day. Plus, I love to travel so it’s nice being here,” she gushes.

Pang is surprised with the attention that she’s getting from the Malaysian media.

“I was pretty overwhelmed, especially after hearing that the Asian community was so generous and supportive of me. I didn’t even know that they were paying attention.

But they are, and Pang is hoping that being in the spotlight will encourage more Asian youths to see her as a role model.

“I hope that people will notice me not just necessarily as an Asian American, and realise that no matter what background you come from, you can achieve your goals if you work hard enough.”

View Photo Gallery



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Miss America Gets MADD

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

Miss America 2006 Jennifer Berry and MADD Team Up to Save Lives by Stopping Drunk Driving and Preventing Underage Drinking

Miss America’s Platform is a First in Pageant History

PHILADELPHIA, March 30 — Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and The Miss America Organization launched today the national partnership between MADD and Miss America 2006 Jennifer Berry. As a new MADD national spokesperson, Miss America will promote her platform Building Intolerance to Drunk Driving and Underage Drinking — the first of its kind in the history of Miss America.

“We are honored to work with Miss America and are excited about the impact she will make,” said Glynn Birch, MADD national president. “Jennifer will tackle tough issues that she knows well as a five-year volunteer for MADD on the state and local level in Oklahoma. The more people we can reach together, the more lives we can save.”

Miss America will travel the country talking about MADD and its lifesaving goals including reducing drunk driving fatalities by 25 percent, supporting highly visible enforcement efforts, serving more victims/survivors of drunk driving and reducing binge drinking among college students in the next three years.

“MADD’s mission is my mission,” said Miss America 2006 Jennifer Berry of Tulsa, Okla. “With MADD as my platform partner, I will take every opportunity to raise awareness and educate the public about the dangers and consequences of drunk driving and underage drinking.”

During July 4th weekend 1999, Miss Berry’s life changed forever when she received the tragic news that one of her high school girlfriends was killed in an underage drunk driving crash. Her 15-year-old friend and a handful of other teens were at the lake and had been drinking. As they were heading to another party, the underage driver lost control of the car. Her friend — sitting in the back seat and unbelted — was killed instantly. The other teens were uninjured.

Berry added, “The death of my friend has made a lasting mark on my life. It was the first funeral I ever attended and that experience sparked a need to do something to help save other lives. I hope to be able to use my title as Miss America to make a lasting mark for the better.”

The launch announcement was held in Philadelphia to help drive the state’s legislative efforts. MADD and Miss America called for new laws in Pennsylvania including primary seatbelt. A primary seat belt law allows law enforcement to pull over a driver for not buckling-up. And research shows that drunk drivers typically don’t wear their seat belt. “A seat belt is your best defense against a drunk driver,” said Berry.

The groups also supported other laws including Administrative License Suspension allowing police to immediately suspend a driver’s license at the time of an arrest for driving under the influence (DUI) or for refusal to submit to a breath test; vehicle immobilization which is effective in reducing DUIs among repeat offenders; and keg registration requiring purchasers to register their information that can be tracked if minors are served alcohol.

“Keg tagging is about prevention. The goal is to stop adults from purchasing kegs for minors,” said Sen. Stewart J. Greenleaf, sponsor of Senate Bill 73, which would require keg identification tagging in Pennsylvania. “Twenty-four other states and the District of Columbia utilize this tool to help reduce underage drinking. It is a tactic that would be worth trying in the commonwealth.”

Flanked by Pennsylvania State Police troopers and Philadelphia Police officers, MADD and Miss America applauded law enforcement for their selfless work and encouraged increased enforcement efforts to protect lives.

“It’s time to shine the spotlight on needed laws and support law enforcement,” said Rebecca Shaver, executive director, MADD Pennsylvania State Office. “Our state can do better and must do better to protect our loved ones from drunk driving and youth from underage drinking. These tragedies are 100 percent preventable. And we need 100 percent support from our legislators and the public.”

In 2004, 16,694 people were killed nationally in alcohol-related traffic crashes, accounting for 39 percent of all traffic crashes. Of those, 12,874 were killed in crashes where the driver had a .08 percent blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or higher. In Pennsylvania, 614 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes (541 drunk driving deaths), representing 41 percent of all traffic fatalities. Alcohol is the No. 1 drug of choice among the nation’s youth and kills more teens than all other illicit drugs combined. More than one third of all traffic deaths among 15-20 year olds involve alcohol.

Jennifer Berry, 22, from Tulsa, Okla., was crowned Miss America on January 21. She is a President’s Honor Roll student at the University of Oklahoma majoring in elementary education. Berry’s ambition is to obtain a Master’s Degree in Education and become an elementary school teacher.

“We are proud to have MADD as a corporate sponsor and to have them partner with Miss America 2006 Jennifer Berry as she launches her platform today,” said Art McMaster, president of the Miss America Organization. “We believe that supporting this cause on a national level brings promise and awareness to such an important issue that continues to face our society.”

The Miss America Organization is one of the nation’s leading achievement programs and the world’s largest provider of scholarship assistance for young women. Last year, the Miss America Organization and its state and local organizations made available more then $45 million in cash and scholarship assistance. Web site: http://www.missamerica.org/ .

MADD is non-profit grassroots organization working to stop drunk driving, support the victims of this violent crime and prevent underage drinking. Founded in 1980, MADD has helped to save more than 300,000 lives. Web site: http://www.madd.org/ .

Source: http://www.theautochannel.com/news/2006/03/30/002402.html



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No beauty seen in teen drinking

Miss America delivers message

No beauty seen in teen drinking

Jennifer Berry tells of death of friend back in Oklahoma

The first time Jennifer Berry attended a funeral, it was for a 16-year-old friend who had died in an accident involving alcohol.

Berry was 15 then, but the death made a huge impact on the Tulsa, Okla., native. So much so that Berry — better known as Miss America 2006 — is spending her yearlong reign raising public awareness about the dangers of underage drinking.

“It is not a rite of passage, it is a dead-end road,” Berry told an audience at “Drunk and Drunker,” a community forum Tuesday night at Maple Woods Community College.

The program was sponsored by the Northland Coalition, Tri-County Mental Health Services and the Interagency Coordinating Committee for the Prevention of Underage Drinking.

Talking about the dangers of drinking and driving was a cause for Berry, now 22, long before she became Miss America. Over the past five years, she spoke to students and DUI offenders, lobbied the Oklahoma Legislature to raise the penalties for selling liquor to minors and even helped her local sheriff’s office bust clerks who give beer to people younger than 21.

At Tuesday’s program, a panel of experts urged mothers and fathers to talk with their children about the danger of underage drinking — not once, but repeatedly. They also warned parents about the legal penalties for serving alcohol to teens at house parties.

Spring is a crucial time of year for education and awareness, the experts said. As proms and graduations roll around, the risk increases for drunken driving crashes involving young people.

One of the speakers was Karen Wynn, a MADD volunteer who speaks at local schools about how drunken driving affected her family. Wynn’s 19-year-old daughter, Nicole, died in a 1995 crash at North Oak Trafficway and 55th Street. Nicole hadn’t been drinking, but she got into a car with someone who had.

“She was the only one in the car who wasn’t drunk,” Wynn said. Her daughter was the only one who perished.

There are many statistics that show how much damage underage drinking can do, Wynn said, but telling her story helps reach students in a way that numbers can’t.

“I think it makes more of an impact when there’s a face to go with it,” she said.

By JAMES HART
The Kansas City Star

Source: http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/news/local/14209973.htm



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Alice rises above crowd

6-foot-1 beauty topped pageant

A hushed awe descended on the room as Alice Panikian — all 6-foot-1 of her — entered the room.

The new Miss Universe Canada silenced about a dozen reporters and photographers as she strolled into the Rosewater Supper Club yesterday for a press conference announcing a speaking tour across GTA schools starting next month.

COMMANDING PRESENCE

Panikian, 20, struck a commanding presence with her long, chestnut hair, dark eyes, flawless olive skin and most of all, her stature: The long-time model towered over most of the room in her stiletto sandals.

Dressed in a sequined corset top and hip-hugging jeans, Panikian — crowned March 21 in Montreal — acknowledged she has big shoes to fill after her predecessor Natalie Glebova, also from Toronto, won the Miss Universe title last year.

“It’s important for me not to have any expectations,” said the York University student and aspiring broadcast reporter. “I know there’s a small possibility of two winners from the same country in a row. I’m doing this for the experience … I’m going to be my own person.”

Despite beating out 48 other Canadian beauties for the title, Panikian said she wasn’t always self-confident, especially because of her towering height and what she calls her natural weight — 130 pounds.

“I don’t do a lot of maintenance. A lot of people speculate I’m anorexic and I can understand that, but if anyone spent time with me, they’d see the kind of stuff I eat,” she said.

‘FEMINIST ATTITUDE’

When asked to comment on beauty pageants, Panikian balked, saying the term offends her.

“I think of it more as a competition, not a pageant,” she said.

“It’s more about intelligence. Beauty is definitely a part of it, but now it’s changing towards a realistic look as opposed to the Barbie look.”

But when it was noted that she’s not exactly the girl-next-door, the Bulgarian-born beauty pointed out that her personality is.

“I think I’m real, I’m not rehearsed … I know I’m not a typical Canadian woman. I was born this way. But I can use it to my advantage, it’s my right to do so. That’s a feminist attitude for me.”

Source: http://torontosun.com/News/TorontoAndGTA/2006/03/29/1510587-sun.html



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Family inspires Miss Michigan

Motivated by her mother’s strength, Miss Michigan was determined to “make it.”

Danelle Gay, 24, of Lapeer, was crowned Miss Michigan in September, awarding her the opportunity to compete in the Miss USA pageant next month. This accomplishment, and other milestones, were achieved as a result of her drive to push herself to success, despite the odds.

At Gay’s age, her mother was married with children.

“But she still managed to finish high school and go on to get her medical assistant license,” Gay said proudly from her Lapeer home.

A Lapeer West graduate, Gay went on to Central Michigan University where she not only graduated in December of 2003 with a degree in interpersonal communication and a minor in marketing, but participated extensively in charity work.

Gay was also involved with the cheer program at Central Michigan University, was an affiliate of the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority, and participated in extensive fund-raising for the Susan G Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. She received a proclamation from the City of Lapeer for her community involvement, was rookie of the year for the Michigan district with First Horizon Pharmaceutical Sales Company, and currently volunteers for the Kiwanis Club, the Boys and Girls Club, and the Eastern Michigan Food drive.

But most important to her and her family, she was the first to graduate from college.

“I knew I had to do it,” Danelle said. “Not only for my family, but for my cousins,” who, she went on to say, are young and haven’t had the opportunity to see a relative graduate from college.

“I wanted to be a good role model, they are very young.”

Danelle’s mother, Roberta Pethers, said her children understand the importance of education.

“While the kids were growing up, I instilled in them how important an education was,” Pethers said. “Because I started my family so young, I knew that they were going to go to college one way or another. . . I will never forget the chills that I got when they announced her name and she proudly walked across the stage at Central.

“I cannot explain to you how proud I am of Danelle. When she puts her mind to it, she knows for a matter of fact what she want and will not stop until she accomplishes it. She truly is my best friend. I am blessed to say that she is my daughter.”

Danelle never forgot what pushed her so hard to get the job done.

“Self motivation and my family are the two reasons that I was so determined to make it,” she said. “And I knew that I wanted to be successful in life.”

She is hoping that her success follows her to the Miss USA pageant in April. Her motivation certainly is, she said.

“I’m really excited,” Gay said. “I got to meet 25 of the girls two weekends ago in LA . . . It was good to get some of the nerve out of our systems. We feel like we have a head start.”

Viewers can find Gay on the televised Miss USA pageant on April 21 at 9 p.m. on NBC.

Source: http://www.countypress.com/stories/032606/loc_20060326002.shtml



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