De’Laija Napier, a public relations and advertising major from Miami has been participating in beauty pageants for almost 15 years.
Napier, a senior in the 3.0 program, was shy growing up but always had a passion for performing, especially singing. She originally started participating in pageants to help get over her stage fright, as suggested by her mother, but ended up truly loving it.
Napier also judges pageants from time to time as well and has even gone on multiple trips to Disney to compete in national pageants. This year, she will be going back to compete again.
Pageants are not only a great way to help boost one’s confidence, they are also a place to meet new people and make connections. Contrary to most stereotypes about pageants, Napier says the people she has met through this hobby are her biggest supporters.
“My favorite part of doing pageants is getting to meet so many new people,” said Napier. “I’ve made a lot of new friends and have been able to be a support to them as they participate in other events as well. I love how pageants empower me to speak out on what I believe in.”
However, as much fun as these pageants are for Napier, there are some challenges and downsides. The cost of these pageants are not inexpensive and, being a college student, finding the time to participate is even harder.
“The most challenging part of pageants for me are sometimes the cost and how time consuming they are,” said Napier.
In the end, no matter the challenge or cost, Napier would not trade participating in pageants for the world. What started as something that was just supposed to help her be less shy, turned into a passion.
“As I grew up, I came to love them as a whole,” said Napier. “They help me with my communication skills, sportsmanship and being more content with the young woman I have grown to be.”
Napier accepted the position as community advisor this year in the E.M. Lynn Residence Hall and despite how busy she is, she still finds time to participate in these pageants. Her passion and drive to do what she loves is what keeps her going even on the darkest of days.