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An Open Letter On Life, Love and Community Service From Ms. Elite Fresh Face Universal 2021


To say pageantry is a huge part of my life would be an understatement. I began competing when I was just 6 months old, our family watches Miss America, Miss USA and Miss Universe every year the way most people watch the Super Bowl, and I’ve done everything including compete, direct, judge, and coach. At 36 years old, when I say I have over 30 years of experience I mean it! When my children began competing, I told myself that I would begin competing again one day…so long as I lost enough weight first. My children continued encouraging me to compete, not understanding why I was so hesitant to. I realized that if I truly wanted to be a role model for my children, I needed to embrace my body the way it is in this moment and just compete - this led me to my first national title! I couldn’t believe it - if I hadn’t let go of that self doubt, I never would have won. During my reign, I had the opportunity to connect with queens from all over the world including Australia, South Africa and Malaysia. I was also able to meet queens in the United States which is how I heard about The Fresh Faces Project; a program that awards and crowns artists around the world who are making a difference with their craft. As a professional artist who is a proud humanitarian, I was thrilled and couldn’t get my application in soon enough!

It’s interesting that I just referred to myself as a professional artist in the last sentence because it’s taken me many years to give myself credit for and acknowledge my talent. I’m an internationally certified henna artist who’s taught multiple workshops and volunteers my time creating free henna crowns for chemo patients. I’m a twice published children’s illustrator with a third book in the works of which I’m both illustrator and author of. I’ve had my art featured in numerous art shows across the country and was honored to be chosen and featured as a solo artist for a month-long show. I’ve been hired many times for commissions. I currently have pieces on display in four different states in the US and before the pandemic, I taught monthly art classes for both children and adults. I’ve always been hard on myself but I realized, just as I did when I embraced my body before competing again, I needed to acknowledge that I truly AM an artist!

Learning to love and embrace myself for who I am has been instrumental in my platform. I am a global ambassador for The Dove Self Esteem Project and I have taught dozens of self esteem workshops to young women ages 8-18 across the globe, both in person and online. I’ve also had the opportunity to teach virtual workshops to parents, teachers, and youth leaders to help them begin to love themselves so they can be a role model for the young people in their lives. I began my first national reign in the early days of the pandemic; I began to see a rise in young people being bullied online and comparing themselves to what they were seeing on celebrities' social media pages because social media became the only way to stay in contact with those around us. As a mother of four and someone who has struggled with an eating disorder, body image and self esteem issues since I was just 11 years old, I do my best to be open about my own experiences to show that while you may struggle to love yourself everyday, you’re worth putting the work in and should never give up on yourself!

Working with The Dove Self Esteem Project isn’t the only way I give back to my community as your Ms Elite Fresh Face Universal 2021 though. Throughout my reign I’ve had so many opportunities to make a difference! Some of my favorite community service projects I’ve done with my reign so far have been:

Judging a “Cutest Pet Contest” to raise money for the Autism Success Foundation, a nonprofit that provides college/trade school scholarships and post high school support for individuals with autism

Hosting a “Read with a Queen” Virtual Storytime live on social media during the holidays and reading How The Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Suess to dozens of families

Raising funds for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for my birthday in memory of Miss USA 2019 Cheslie Kryst to support those who struggle with their mental health

Donating hundreds of items to the Winchester SPCA Thrift Store, a charity thrift store whose entire profits benefit their local SPCA

Creating a custom piece of art inspired by the Ukrainian people’s strength, flag and national flower to raise money for Nova Ukraine, a nonprofit organization that’s been providing humanitarian aid to Ukraine since 2014

I’m so grateful for the opportunities that The Fresh Faces Project has given me, but even when my reign is over I’ll still be creating art and making a difference! My next big project is to finish the illustrations for the book that I co-authored with my oldest and to get it published by the 2022 holiday season. After I crown my Fresh Faces Project successor this fall, I’ll be taking a break from pageantry to focus on the title I’ll be getting in April 2023 - Mrs. Jessica Briggs! 

Thank you so much to Calynn, The Fresh Faces Project and all of my fellow queens. I am so grateful for each and every one of you - your talents and passion for making a difference in the world is inspirational and I can’t wait to see what each of you does next!


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