Tiffany: What does the title of NAM Oregon Teen mean to you?
Kelli: The title of Miss Oregon Teen means so much more to me than it sounds. After so much hard work preparing my speeches, finding the "perfect" dress, and trying to let my natural self shine through, winning the title was the most exhilarating feeling of reward for my preparation during the end of my busy senior year! More than that though, the title has truly enabled me to serve my community and make meaningful contributions. The most significant was my Books For Soldiers Drive, that I'll describe below, but also holding a Queen's Day at the Children's Museum, riding in parades, and being a role model for women of all ages.
Tiffany:What activities are you involved in ?
Kelli: This year has been busy with some great extracurricular activities! I have been actively involved every week in the Boston College Student Admissions Program as a Day Visit Host, Greeter, and High School Ambassador. I also volunteer weekly for Learning to Serve which is a service program (see below), Circle K which is the college extension of Key Club service club, lecturing at St. Ignatious Church every month, being a member of the College Republicans Club, SwingKids swing dance club, and playing on the intramural softball team during the fall. I am also a St. Thomas Moore Society member, Big & Little Sisters Mentee, take salsa dance lessons, piano lessons, and work out 4 to 5 times each week.
Tiffany: What did you do to earn the NAM Golden Achievement in Community Service Award ?
Kelli: Having a brother in the military opened my eyes to the hardships that our military service men and women must endure while on duty both here and overseas. After realizing that much of the time, when not fighting, service men and women have little to help pass the time, I created a “Books for Soldiers Drive” that was extremely successful and brightened many soldiers’ days. After deciding that I wanted to hold the drive, I collaborated with various businesses around town to be hosts of drop-off locations. With donation sites at Banner Bank, US Bank, Children’s Museum of Eastern Oregon, Pendleton Public Library, and Starbuck’s, I made elaborate posters to encourage customers to donate books. I learned in the process that marketing would be a good match for me! With the collection bins around town, I wrote a press release to advertise my project and searched for email addresses of soldiers overseas through my brother’s connections and people in my town. For the next four weeks, I picked up books from the sites three times per week. By the end of the project, over 1500 books were collected! With 37 military locations to send the books, I then boxed up assortments of books of mystery, fantasy, novels, and “girly” style, inserted an explanation of the project, and hauled 62 boxes down to the post office. I paid for the postage with my state pageant prize money and in a month, the books had arrived overseas. I received a wealth of thankful emails and letters from the unsuspecting service men and women and knew that I had really improved their situation. One soldier commented that all they had been reading was “Good Housekeeping” and cookbooks! Holding this project was fun for me and improved the situation of others.
Kelli: After winning the Golden Achievement in Service Award, I was ecstatic! Service is such a huge part of my life, so it was really rewarding to get recognized for my over 600 hours I've done in high school. It really inspired me to continue volunteering and serving my community and increased my drive to volunteer more.
Tiffany: How has being a titleholder helped you outreach in your community?
Kelli: By being a titleholder, it has been easier to gather community support for projects and improve the community. One big project I've done is "Diplomas Matter," a dropout prevention program for eighth grade students. I also created "Birthday Bags for Foster Kids," the Mr. PHS Contest, a teacher-classroom supply drive, "You Are Special Bags," and have held Queen's Days at the Children's Museum for girls. I've spoken at many club meetings, promoted NAM and pageantry, helped at functions like National Night Out, ridden in parades, and had fun at photoshoots! Using my title is important, so I've tried to do just that!
Tiffany: What advice can you give to girls that want to start volunteering?
Kelli: To girls who want to start volunteering: DO NOT be discouraged from volunteering no matter what act it is. Serving meals in a local nursing home was one of my favorite volunteer opportunities in high school. It seems so simple to serve food with a smile, but to the elderly, it makes a HUGE difference. The same is to be said about planting trees, cleaning up walkways, or whatever volunteering. Little acts of kindness make a big difference in the lives of others.
Kelli: I am majoring in communications and minoring in organizational studies. I want to be a successful public relations specialist and a loving mother. Recently, I've decided that I want to stimulate my business side and run my own gown shop, too (thank you NAM for showing me my love for fashion)
Tiffany: What is your defintion of a NAM girl?
Kelli: NAM girls are no typical girls. They have an awareness of the "bigger picture" not just themselves, and show it through making an impact in their world. NAM girls are conscious of the needs of their community and other people. intelligent in their decisions, and involved in their areas of passion. Their inner beauty drives their actions as positively build a better community.
Tiffany: How has being involved in NAM changed your life?
Kelli: The ways in which NAM has changed me life are too numerous to fit in on paper! Fundamentally, competing in my first pageant changed my entire career field from landscape architecture to communications. I learned that I love public speaking, being in the public eye, and interacting with other people- which has directed me to public relations.I also learned skills that I didn't even know I'd picked up pageant weekend, such as ease in talking with others, confidence in myself, who I am, and what I stand for, and great posture. Interview skills will help for the rest of my life.The memories that I've made due to NAM have been the most significant way. My mother and I have a new passion for shopping! We have grown so much closer and I thank NAM for that. My father and I have the best memories when he escorts me. My brothers have really
enjoyed watching me grow and being apart of NAM in their own special way as well.
Kelli: I actually wrote about a similar topic for a paper on "pageant girls!" The biggest misconception is that pageant girls are superficial pageant machines who are snooty and mean. I have not met any girls that fit this description while in NAM. Girls are not full of themselves and try to make other participants fail. Of course there is a little competition, but NAM creates true friendships by having a grea group of girls participate. Pageant girls are not dumb, like many may think. They are intelligent, forward-moving role models, doing the best they can to improve the situations of others'.
Tiffany: What advice do you have for girls that want to enter NAM?
Kelli: To girls who want to enter NAM: do it!! Don't hold back! Pageant weekend is a time that you will see yourself grown in immeasurable ways, from public speaking to confidence. If you let yourself be your best you, you will relax and have a blast. Even if you do not win, you have still won in the long run with the qualities that you develop over the weekend. It is important to learn about yourself and your capablities, and this is how you can do it!
Tiffany: If you could have one wish what would you wish for?
Kelli: I was wishing to win the national title, but now my one wish is to live a happy, healthy life with my knight in shining armor and family, preferably in a tropical paradise with a never ending supply of the candy Dots !!!