As a feminist, I have my issues with beauty pageants. But then, I’m the same girl who took baton and piano lessons in search for my hidden talent; longed to wear a tutu on stage and paraded in a bouffy gown on her wedding day. I’m the woman who still has her childhood Barbies and watches “Say Yes to the Dress” marathons on cable. Socialization is a terrible thing to kick. If only there was a way to combine intellect and scholarship with celebrations of inner beauty!
My cousin Alescia Hollowell is doing just that. Alescia is a 24-year-old graduate of Cass Tech, who’s earned a B.S. at Michigan State University and a Master’s of Public Health at the University of Michigan. She’s now a PhD candidate in Community Psychology from DePaul University—and she’s a contestant for Miss Black USA.
Yep, that blew my mind, too. Evidently, pageants have changed a bit since I was a little girl. Founded in 1986, the Miss Black USA Scholarship Pageant provides educational opportunities to outstanding young women of color, developing the "whole woman mind, body, and spirit.” Pageant winners receive scholarships and promote health and education, two leading social issues in the African American community.
Alescia had never been a pageant before (probably too busy earning those post-graduate degrees). But after hearing about the program from a childhood friend, she decided to give it a try. Viola! She won Miss Black Michigan, and will be competing for the title of Miss Black USA in Washington, D.C. in August.
“I researched the organization and decided that I wanted to get involved,” said Alescia. “The young women who are a part of this pageant are examples of what it means to be a powerful, talented, and driven young black woman. It’s a platform that lets us use the skills and talents that we have been blessed with in order to impact the lives of others.”
As a public health advocate, Alescia is concerned about childhood obesity. While earning her Masters of Public Health, she interned last summer at the Genesee County Health Department in Flint, Michigan with a health program called SPROUT (Steering Prevention Reducing Obesity Utilizing Teamwork).
“I saw how environmental, cultural, and socioeconomic factors influence health behaviors and outcomes,” said Alescia. “In order to turn around the childhood obesity problem in the African American community, we have to change the environment so that healthy food is available. We have to change the culture so that our urban communities can value exercise and healthy eating—not junk food or fried foods. And we have to deal with the fact that many people are malnourished in urban centers. That’s why I decided to make childhood obesity the focus of my platform.”
We often hear about Detroit’s “brain drain,” but when do we hear about those who are giving their all to uplift the city?
“Despite the media portrayals of Detroit, I am a product of this city who has excelled and achieved,” she said. “I love the culture of the city. The hope for the future lies in Detroit’s youth.”
That’s why I’m proud that my cuz is a Detroit Snob. “Being a ‘Detroit Snob’ is someone who prevails even in the face of adversity,” said Alescia. “Marked by optimism, creativity, and a love for life, a ‘Detroit Snob’ takes pride in the city and gives back to it in order to produce a better tomorrow.”
Help Alescia compete in the Miss Black USA Scholarship Pageant!
Like” the Miss Black Michigan USA 2012 Facebook Fan page @ https://www.facebook.com/MissBlackMichigan2012
Make a donation to help Miss Black Michigan USA 2012 get to Nationals @ http://www.gofundme.com/bnz50