It's time to get to know your reigning National PreTeen Queen Tierra Gonzalez-Hammonds ! I first met Tierra when she was just a Princess contestant, I knew then that she was something special ! It has been an honor to watch Tierra grow into a beautiful young lady. Tierra is a straight A student, an awesome dancer and has stage presence like no other. Tierra has dreams of impacting the world as an elected official and even one day becoming President of the United States. Tierra is the definition of hard works pays off. I'm so excited to see what this talented and beautiful young lady will do next. You never know, I might be saying I know the first women president !!!
A word from Tierra !
I am a 13 year old, 8th grader at Pacific Beach Middle School in beautiful San Diego, California. Science is my favorite subject in school this year, but I really enjoy American History and PE, too. Even though I am a typical girlie-girl (pink is my favorite color), I love flag football. I feel blessed to live one short block from the water, and like every Southern California girl, I love the beach! Most of my time outside of school is spent at my dance studio, Mystic Steppers. I started at age 3 as a gymnast, switched to competitive cheerleading at age 6 and settled on dance a few years ago. We preform all types of dance, but compete mainly in hip-hop. Now my big decision is what I will pursue in High School next year. I am lucky to have a mom who is also my best friend. Sometimes I think she is a little crazy, but I realize that I definitely inherited that trait from her. My little brother Antonio is 6 years old, and has been my biggest fan for as long as I can remember. My Grandpa also lives with us. As a family, we like to go camping, play games, and go to one of Southern California's last drive-in theatre. And, we go to Disneyland about once a month! We are also very active with our church and community. Civic participation is something I was taught at a very early age. I have had the opportunity to meet just about every elected official who represents us: from my City Councilman to the President of the United States. I used to want to become a political reporter because I noticed that reporters don't always ask the tough questions that I want answers to. But, now, I think I could do more by becoming an elected official, and answering those questions before a reporter has to ask!
Tiffany: How has your life changed since winning your national title ?
Tierra:Well, in some ways it hasn't. I still have to clean my room, do my homework and help watch my little brother. But, I have had the opportunity to travel to places that I never thought I would see, meet amazing people and take more pictures than most people take in a lifetime.
Tiffany: What do you like to do for fun ?
Tierra: I love to do anything that puts me on stage. I have a passion for dance, I love to tumble and perform. I also really enjoy doing volunteer work. It is a blast to hang out with friends and do something good for other people.
Tiffany: What do you want to be when you grow up?
Tierra: I used to want to be a political reporter for CNN. However, the historic election of Barack Obama inspired me to want to make news, not just report it. Now, I want to have a career in law and politics. I plan to become a District Attorney, then run for higher political office. I eventually would like to be the President of the United States.
Tiffany: What makes your state special?
Tierra: Everything! It is California, after all!
Tiffany: If you could only tell me one thing about yourself what would it be ?
Tierra: That I love my life.
Tiffany: How would your friends describe you ?
Tierra: They would say that I was kind and loyal, and a little bit of a drama queen.
Tiffany: What is your favorite pageant competition?
Tierra: My favorite part of competition is the interview. It is not always my highest score, but I always have so much fun speaking with the judges. Interview has taught me to look people right in the eye when I talk with them and to always be myself.
Tiffany:Who is role model?
Tierra: My mom. She is a single mom who is crazy busy but always has time for me and my brother. She is also my best friend. Even though a lot of people think she has an important job, she never treats anyone like she is more important than they are.
Tiffany: Finish this sentence: People would be surprised to know...
Tierra: I am deathly afraid of Mr. Potato Head.
Tiffany: What three words best describe you ?
Tierra: Caring, ambitious, and quirky
Tiffany: What was the first thing you thought after you won your national title?
Tierra: I really can't remember. I was really in shock. In both the 2003 Princess NAM Nationals and 2006 JPT NAM Nationals I had made it down to the final two. The emcee always says "And then there were two." Twice, I heard my name called out as the first runner-up. So, naturally, when Joy Saprano said "And then there were two," I expected California to be announced as first runner-up. When she said the first runner up was Florida, I was almost confused. I was so excited, the next thing I remember was about 10 minutes later when I was signing my contract with Mr. Mayes.
Tiffany: How did you prepare for the national pageant
Tierra: My mom would make me do my introduction on the way to school every morning, and then we would talk about things that may come up in interview. We talked about my hometown, what I like to do, our family - just to get me thinking about various questions that come up in interview.
Tiffany: What is the best advice you can give to a future NAM contestant?
Tierra: Listen to your mom, she is probably right. Sometimes girls our age think some things are cool or not cool. Our parents may think differently. The key is, the judges are more likely to be like our parents than like a preteen. Perfect example: wearing nude pantyhose with your interview suit. I hate nude pantyhose, but my mom convinced me that it was proper for pageant interviews. I think she was right. But for the record, not even my Mom wears nude pantyhose with her suits in real life!
Tiffany: What is your favorite quote ?
Tierra: Go Big or Go Home! - In other words, if you aren't going to put 100% in what you do, you shouldn't even be doing it!
Tiffany: What do you want your legacy to be ?
Tierra: I hope people will remember me as the National American Miss Preteen who never gave up.
Tiffany: If you were stuck on a deserted island what three things would you bring with you ?
Tierra: Food, my cell phone and my mom. I am a very practical person.
Tiffany: What is your favorite book, TV show and Movie ?
Tierra: I love all of the Harry Potter Books, it is the nerd in me. My favorite TV show is "America's Best Dance Crew." My favorite all time movie was "Over the Hedge," which brilliantly taught kids about environmentalism and urban sprawl, but the remake of FAME was a close second.
Tiffany: What activities are you involved in ?
Tierra: At my school,I am a member of the Video Club. We write, produce, direct and star in the school news every week. I am also very active in the Builders Club, which finds and promotes relevant volunteer activities for our middle school. I dance about 15 hours a week with a competitive dance team called The Mystic Steppers. We do all types of dance: ballet, jazz, lyrical, hip-hop and some gymnastics. I also do a volunteer work. I have donated over 100 hours to the United Way's Food Pantry this year, volunteer for my church's homeless shelter, and work on a number of food drives. I have been a member of the Surfrider Foundation for 5 years, and help at beach clean-ups many times each year.
Tiffany: What is the best advice you have received ?
Tierra: You will miss 100% of the shots you don't take.
Tiffany: If you had to eat one thing the rest of your life what would it be ?
Tiffany: If you wrote a book about your life, what would the title be ?
Tierra: The Best is Yet to Come
Tierra's Modeling Shot
Tierra and her little brother
Your in for a real treat, its time to meet Tierra's inspirational mom Lorena! Lorena and Tierra have a very special bond, if you ever have a chance to meet them you will see just how dynamic this mother and daughter duo are. Lets get some words of wisdom from a pageant queen herself, thats right Lorena too has graced the stage as a title holder.
Tiffany:What life skills had your daughter learned from being involved in NAM?
Lorena: Tierra has learned so much from NAM, including how to interview, how to speak in public and how to present herself in front of adults. But I also think she learned a valuable lesson that boys often have many outlets to learn and girls far fewer: How to win with humility and lose with grace.
Tiffany: What is your favorite Pageant memory of Tierra ?
Lorena: Of course, it is hard to beat the moment she won the National Preteen title. She had worked so hard, and wanted it so bad, I just cried watching her finally fulfill her dreams on stage. For months beforehand she would say, ever single day, "But mom, you don't understand how much I want this." It was amazing to watch her win it!
But, I also remember taking her to breakfast the morning of the National Finals her Princess year. She was only 7 and I had been blown away by how great all of the queens had been all week long. I tried to have a discussion with her about how proud I was of what she had done that week, and how much I loved her and would be so excited just to watch her on stage that night. I told her it didn't matter if she even made top ten, she was a winner to me. She looked up from her pancakes and said, "Mom, I know you didn't see it, but I did really well in interview. I think I might win." All I could do was laugh because I was so worried she was too young to understand what was going to happen that night. She was much more aware than I had given her credit for. That evening she came very close. After she was named first runner-up she did cry, but then she hugged the winner and told her congratulations and how beautiful she was. I was just so proud of watching her develop emotionally.
Tiffany:Would your recommend NAM to other families?
Lorena: Absolutely. This pageant has not only been such an amazing way for Tierra to grow and flourish, but has really allowed us to grow closer as mother and daughter, too.
Tiffany: What will Tierra take away from her NAM experience?
Lorena: Along with memories to last a lifetime, she has built friendships that I know will continue long after she has given up her title.
Tiffany: What advice can you give to future NAM parents and contestants?
Lorena: Read your magazines, prepare, practice and practice some more BEFORE you get to the pageant. But, once you are there, just have fun. Use pageant week to do everything offered, and build a lifetime of memories. At the end of the day, the pageant goes by too fast. And, parents, don't forget to hug your daughter and tell her how well she did. That is what will mean the most to her!
Tiffany: As a parent how have you seen Tierra change after wining her national title?
Lorena: I think she really believes no dream is too big. I have watched her try new sports, switch schools, and revamp her career ambitions. It is like she now knows she can achieve anything she sets her mind to doing
Tierra with her sister queen Kaydianna and her gorgeous mom Lorena !