Pageantry itself has greatly aided in personal self-discovery since pageant preparation is a transformative experience. When preparing for an interview, you need to get to know yourself in a completely different and unconventional way. It isn’t every day that you’re asked, “If you could enact a law tomorrow, what would it be?” Once you feel prepared and confident, interviews begin to feel like conversations, and the nerves dissolve.
BRAVE is crucial in building and solidifying personal connections. My favorite part about BRAVE is the meaning behind the acronym itself, “Building Respect and Values for Everyone,” The word “building” is in the progressive tense, which shows that this process is ever-changing and constant. It is imperative that we are continuously learning and opening our eyes to the experiences of others. It’s important to not only recognize the issues others may face, but to fight for justice and become part of the solution. In order to truly respect others, we must not only treat them kindly, but uplift them as well. We must learn we are not each other’s competition, but each other’s allies, cheerleaders, and advocates.
I promote the BRAVE platform through My Brave Blog. When I was 17 years old, I created Confidence Camp: a 7-week program to empower young girls and teach them about self-love. We played games, created vision boards, and wrote letters to Suited for Success, a non-profit that provides women with professional clothing and career development services. In addition to these activities, we kept journals throughout the entire process. This allowed for daily self-reflection, documenting achievements, and outlining future goals. Currently, I post journal entries on my blog that promote confidence and self-love in hopes of reaching more people. These entries allow my readers to reserve time during their day to check-in with themselves. My goal is to inspire someone to take the first step towards unconditional self-love. When we are confident in ourselves, we are able to uplift others, and fully embody all of the core values BRAVE promotes.
It wasn’t until I was older that I came across personal development books and audio that helped shape me to be the person I am today. I have learned to accept my differences and those characteristics that make me, me. This is why I have started my personal training business called Beautiful By Design. Through this, I help others be the best version of themselves. I have to be an excellent example for those that look up to me, which is essential for me and my business. Reading and listening to positive messages daily, I could finally see how much it impacted my life, which is why as Miss California Collegiate America 2021, I will continue to spread this beautiful message of self-love. This can be anything from eating right, working out, or even positive self talk. When we do that, we can see the beautiful and positive characteristics of every person we come across.
The acronym B.R.A.V.E stands for Building Respect and Values for Everyone. This acronym means to me more than just a platform, but it is truly a lifestyle. This platform gives the opportunity for myself as well as other titleholders to shine a light on the importance of having respect and values for not only yourself, but the individuals around you as well. Through this platform, I’m able to use my past experiences to educate others on how to understand that what makes you different makes you beautiful.
During my reign as Miss New Jersey Collegiate America, I will be taking B.R.A.V.E internationally to impoverished communities where as some do lack the education of respectful social skills. Through my Gotta Have Faith Foundation that supports orphanages and schools in Haiti I will be implementing B.R.A.V.E presentations virtually and sending B.R.A.V.E care packages to teach them that where they come from doesn’t define them! It’s so important that these students understand that despite their situation they can make the best of any circumstance by having a positive attitude and respecting one another. I’m so grateful to the Miss High School America Organization for creating this incredible platform to encourage people across the nation to create respectable environments for everyone. Always remember that no matter what you look like or where we come from, we were all created for our own special purposes. Embrace who you are and embrace those around you.
Over the years, I have started to notice that other girls felt this way about themselves too. I realized that body issues did not just affect me, it affected many of my peers. So when I talk about what BRAVE means to me, it is not just about building respect and values for everyone, but also is about teaching young girls to build respect for themselves too.
Although building respect for myself took some time, I believe the topic of bullying yourself needs to become more of a conversation in the classroom. When I speak about BRAVE, it is a steppingstone for many kids in the classroom who have experienced the same thing and are going through the same pain I did. And like me, many have never said anything to anyone. In my presentations, I always make it a point to share with them the different resources they have to use as a support system, including talking to me.
As Miss Kentucky Collegiate America, I have taken on a mission to reach students of many different ages and backgrounds to instill skills in them that they can use to address bullying to themselves and to others. As I tell kindergarten and first grade students; it is important to fill your bucket with kindness, because when your bucket is overflowing with kindness you have the chance to share it with others. And that is why this title means much more than just a crown or sash to me. It’s a chance to show kids that were just like I was that they can truly “Love Their Reflection”.
Ever since I became Miss Maine Collegiate, giving my B.R.A.V.E presentations to the next generation has been my favorite because as I'm talking I see all of them focused and hanging onto every word I'm saying.
For me that is showing that they are listening and learning how to stand up for one another.
When I was younger I was bullied ever since first grade for not being able to read or write like
the other kids. I remember this boy, that fun fact I actually had a crush on at the time, I went up
to him to talk and I remember his exact words “get away from me bad reader”. It wasn’t until
third grade when I started to become hurt by their words. We had a day where we had to bring
in white T-shirts and draw our favorite scene from a book/movie and anyone who knows me
knows I’m obsessed with Disney, so I decided to draw a scene from Beauty and the Beast. Well
everyone in the class made fun of me because I spelt the word beauty wrong. I just remember
feeling very awful about myself when everyone started laughing at me to a point where when we
got a parade around the school showing off our shirts, I sat in the class in the corner crying as I
just worked in my phonics book.
After that moment I realized that I didn’t want to have to feel like that ever again. I don’t want to be looked at as the outcast who couldn’t tell the difference between m and w or b and d. Since that day I worked hard on my grammar, comprehension, and reading everyday with a teacher. As soon as I stopped letting their words get to me, I started feeling good about myself.
As my reign being Miss Maine Collegiate, I want to start off being that voice for someone and as
time goes by I want to be able to teach them how to have a voice to stand up for themselves.
It’s like the quote says “if you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to
fish, you feed him for a life time”.
Having the ability to connect with the community with B.R.A.V.E. has opened so many doors to begin very necessary conversations. Students get excited to learn and be a part of something (even if it is currently virtually). My personal platform of women’s empowerment has its footing in what B.R.A.V.E. stands for. Starting at a young age, we all must love and accept ourselves to be able to know who we are and why we are important. Finding those values within ourselves makes it possible for us to find those values within others as well!
Never did I expect to see how much B.R.A.V.E. has empowered my fellow titleholders to make a difference but also a change in myself. Connection is something we really need to foster more of in 2021 and I am honored to represent this organization and B.R.A.V.E to make a difference!
As for me, I suffer from anxiety and PTSD and use to have awful depression and suicidal thoughts. The old version of who I use to be would have never shared that with anyone, let alone on a big platform! But now I'm not afraid to share the scars and wounds from my suicide attempts because others need to see that it doesn't stop you from becoming the best version of yourself. The past doesn't define your future. In this case, I was the one bullying myself. Until my best friend taught me to extend grace to myself. I'm working on my mental health just as everyone else because being a pageant queen doesn't separate me from being human. I'm a queen at heart.
B.R.A.V.E has allowed me to combine the national Miss Collegiate America bullying platform with my personal platform "Mental Health Matters".
Being truly B.R.A.V.E is healing. And I am healing with you.
Many of us have experienced bullying and I’m no different. In elementary and middle
school I was relentlessly teased and physically attacked a number of times. Speaking up
was hard because I was terrified that calling attention to the issue would only increase the
chances it happened again. It was only with the backing of my friends that I had the
courage to finally say something; but I know there are so many kids that will never find
that same strength, and will continue to feel alone in their struggle.
That is why BRAVE can be life changing. If we teach every student to be aware of their
peers: ask someone new to have lunch or play with them, give someone a compliment, or
ask someone how they are doing, we will create an incredible domino effect to change
the status-quo. Respectful actions make a world of difference and the more we can
promote inclusion for everyone the less bullying can exist in our classrooms: being aware
of others, and looking out for everyone around us.
As Miss New Mexico Collegiate it’s my mission to continue my work with BRAVE on a
larger scale, and spread the message the ‘You Belong’. Presenting to classrooms across
the country, I want every kid to be equipped with the tools to help foster compassion in
their classroom. I’ve been the kid who was left out, who didn't fit it— so when I can walk
into a classroom with a shiny crown on my head, they see me as a ‘princess’; but when I
talk to them, and share my story, they understand they are not alone, and hopefully begin
to find the courage they need— and the support of their peers, to overcome.
Once we gain a better understanding of our personal values we can start conversations about differences we have with others. We also learn how to respect other’s differences and learn to value what others have experienced throughout the conversation.
Watching this platform come to life through others is truly inspiring and as Miss Nebraska Collegiate I will continue to educate others through the message of B.R.A.V.E and all of its connecting aspects with people of all ages as well as continuously looking into new ways to make an impact with this platform.
Welcome to the BRAVE Blog, I'm Carly, Miss Houston Collegiate America and I am working together with other titleholders in the MHSA organization to share the message of BRAVE and why it is so important!