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Harry Potter Enthusiast, Island girl, All American Girl, Proud USF bull. Lover of all things mythical and "unbelievable"

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Stage Is Set...

I just can't believe it. In 11 days I will be traveling to Las Vegas to take part in, what I know will be, the most amazing experience of my life! You all could not imagine what I am thinking. So many things are racing through my mind! Am I prepared, am I ready? Will I slip and fall? Are my shoes to high? lol. :) Yes, I'm thinking these things, multiplied by a thousand! But even more so, I'm thinking of you all. Will I make you all proud? Have I represented my territory well enough? Will I be the first Miss virgin Islands to break that barrier and enter the top fifteen!? Questions, questions, questions. I'm probably a little crazy now, because as I ask them, I answer them! Who would have thought a former wall flower would bloom this brightly!? I've never been the average beauty queen and I think that is what makes me the best kind of beauty queen. I still hear my professors as we spoke, "Hmmm, A Miss America, that's a cultural feminist?" That's exactly what I am! A proud activist for women and for those different. I'm a mix of so many cultures, so I am a representation of these cultures and of the people within these cultures. With every step I take, it is to break down the walls set in front of us. 
I'm ready for those walls!. I could not have been more prepared for this. I have been planning on this for the past four years. I have had dreams of this my entire life and I finally woke up and made it an amazing reality. Just a few days ago, as I was doing my final fitting with my dress designer Juan Carlos Pinera, I felt like Miss America. I saw myself in that dress, I thought of all the hard work I  had done and all that I have sacrificed and all that I had prayed for. I could see myself being crowned in this dress. I could see myself as the last standing after everything that I had to overcome. Anyone that knows me, knows that this road has not been an easy one but it has been rewarding, and in my heart I know that my greatest reward is somewhere in the near, NEAR future. ;) 

The fears are here as well. Everyone has told me its quite normal to be nervous. I speak to my friends every day about my worries and they are always willing to knock me right out of my fear, party of one. "Take those panties of yours out of that knot and rock it!" Which is what I'm going to do! When that first night of preliminary competition arrives, I'm going to show them why every one says Islands girls do it best! Thank you all for your endless love, support and dedication to my success as Miss Virgin Islands. We are going to make history this time! 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

After you've been given..GIVE BACK!

I was recently asked to be apart of an amazing series of events this past weekend. Jabari Blash, a top tier league baseball player for the Seattle Mariners is by all accounts, a picture perfect example of what hard work and dedication can become. He is from St. Thomas and decided to hold baseball clinic free of charge for local little league players, on the islands of St. Thomas and St. Croix. Eight major and minor league players visited our territory to be apart of this great effort. It began this past Friday night, when a welcome was held for these amazing players at the Kokopelli Cafe. They, as well as myself, and other Virgin Island title holders were invited to meet and interact with children and parents of the community. We had a blast! Everyone was so welcoming of them and I'm sure they can't wait to come back. 

It was so humbling that I was welcomed to be apart of such a positive event. I was the "Head Face Painter" of the day and I was able to interact with both boys and girls attending the clinic. I'm always afraid to do face painting, if you get it wrong, BE PREPARED! They will let you no, and three children later, they'll be in line for you to get it right! But I definitely had an amazing time, I did hearts, cheetahs, dogs, roses, you name it, I did it. Just Call me Miss "Artistica" (I hope that was as full of  "whitty" as I thought it was.)                                      I made two best friends at the end of the day. That's the part I enjoy most about interacting with children. They are so easy to understand and relate to. They aren't yet confused by the things around them, they are still, simply enjoying it. It's a beautiful thing to see. All, in all the events spanning over the entire weekend, were a huge success. It's amazing to see so many of these young men that  have achieved so much, give back without having to be asked. I am extremely thankful that there is now an outlet for our young men, that teaches more than just the basics of baseball, it teaches the importance of dedication and discipline. Most of all, I am so extremely humbled to know that I was blessed with the opportunity to be involved in something so positive. So, remember that it is extremely important to give back, after you've been given!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Life Lesson #1

This experience has taught me so much, about so many different things in life. I want to share one of the most important lessons I've learned this far. I've learned the importance of relationships, and I've learned the importance of knowing when to let go of them. Don't let the glamour of the crown and sash be fooling. This experience is tedious, this job requires so much, not only do I prepare to do my very best at the upcoming Miss America pageant, but I am also vigorously giving back to those that deserve it.So yes the journey is spectacular in more ways than one but the luxury of it does not come without the labor. 

With that being said, my goal is set and I am determined to do well. I am so focused on representing the Virgin Islands to the best of my ability and I cannot afford to let anything or anyone deter me from that goal. Relationships, when negative, can do that. They can steer us away from the path that God has presented us with. They can hinder us from our greatest successes and triumphs. So we must know when a relationship is no longer worth our time because it becomes an obstacle, something it should never be. Whether it is a friendship, or a "family-ship" or one of intimacy, it should never be negative. 

You see what happens in life is very easy to understand. We are all painting a picture, and we get to choose our colors. If we choose the wrong color that picture becomes distorted because the ugly flows into the beautiful, it becomes blended until all you see is a brown, ugly muck. Don't allow that ugly color to distort the beauty of your achievement or success. 

I have come from so much to reach this point, I have been the shy girl, sitting in the corner, teased and made fun off, because I was "too skinny" or "not pretty" enough. I have been that girl that struggled to find my place among my peers, years older than me. I have been to the very bottom and that is why I am so humbled to be in this position. But, as humbled as I am, I will not take any of this for granted, nor will I downplay the work I so diligently put in to get here and I will never let anyone place shade on my accomplishments. I've worked hard for them, so as long as God will allow it, they will shine brightly. 

My goal is set, and as every other goal I have set for myself, I will achieve it and if not, come very very close.  In order for me to do this, I must be aware of relationships that have a negative impact on this goal. I must weed out the dark and musty colors, as we all should. What is your goal? Where do you see yourself in the next 12 months or 2 years? Answer these questions. Now, begin to surround yourself with people that will appreciate this goal. Engulf yourself with individuals that will congratulate you on every step of this journey, seek out those that will encourage you when it seems like you cannot make it. Let go of those that are a negative force towards your achievement, but a positive force towards your failure. They might not always do it purposely, but if they do not stop, release them. You don't need that, not do you deserve. We are only human, but you would not imagine the power our words and actions have on one another. So, unless there power is positive, release it, don't worry yourself with salvaging relationships that will only benefit your failure. 

I just wanted to share this with you all. I have learned so much and I just hope that my experiences can be a lesson to others.

With Love,
Miss Virgin Islands

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Donate To The Children's Miracle Network

Warm Holiday Greetings From Your Miss Virgin Islands 2012, Aniska Tonge.
As you all may know I am proudly involved with the largest scholarship program for women, Miss America, and as a contestant I now work very closely with the Children’s Miracle Network. Our goal is to raise funds for these local hospitals that are so dedicated to bettering the lives of children in need.
The Miss America Organization has teamed up with Children's Miracle Network Hospitals to help raise money for children’s hospitals in communities throughout the United States. Every single dollar donated to this page will be put towards granting miracles for these bright stars of our future.Now you can be a miracle worker and “touch the lives” of these sick and injured children by making a heartfelt donation today. By clicking the“Donate Now” button to the left on my donation page, http://missamericaforkids.org/Home/Donate . You may make a donation of any value.

These are so many stories of how normal people like us have helped millions of kids through the Children's Miracle Network. Now with your help, I have a chance to make these stories come true as well. 
Thanks so very much for your support and effort it  helping me make miracles happen for those that are so important to us and our future! So, please give a donation in my name and give the gift of a miracle this holiday season!

With Love,
Aniska, Your Miss Virgin Islands

Thursday, December 6, 2012

An Island Style Christmas and Catalina Swim!

Christmas is right around the corner y'all! But, as I see pictures of snow covered drive ways and snowflake decorated trees, I just can't relate! You see, I'm from paradise. It never goes below 75 degrees during the day and we'd trade snow for sand any day of the week. My Christmas time is different! Friends are beginning to come home but we aren't planning ski trips, we're planning a day jet skiing, zip lining and snorkeling! We aren't pulling out heavy coats or scarves or boots. We're debating if we should add new swim suits to our, already overwhelming, collection. Our beaches are some of the most beautiful in the world and we take such pride in them. From Magens bay to Brewers Bay, Coki Point and Lindquist, the selection is overwhelming! I just love calling this place home. I can't wait till all my favorites ladies get back so we can spend our entire days on the beach. I just have to remember not to fall asleep under the sun or I'll look like a burnt KitKat! All this talk about the beach has me even more excited that my Catalina Swimwear for the Miss America competition is here, fits perfectly and is ready to be seen in all its glory on that Miss America stage! I'm so happy that the are a sponsor and I can't wait till this line makes it debut in Walmart shopping centers all over the country! When we traveled to Orlando we had an opportunity to sneak a peek at this line and I think it's truly amazing that Catalina has made an array of swimwear fitting for every woman of every color, body type and height! I'm an island girl so I surely live on the beacg, and trust me when I tell you, once you see the Miss America Swim by Catalina you'll want to live on the beach too! That cute swimsuit will have you beach babe ready. The selection of styles and colors are to die for and the fabric and quality will surely be worth the price. I can't wait to make both Catalina Swimwear and the Miss America Organization proud when I hit that stage in January! Thank you again to Miss America and Catalina for not only providing us contestants with gorgeous suits but for providing every woman with the right suit to feel good and comfortable and gorgeous in! 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Life of Miss Virgin Islands...

I've done terribly at keeping you all updated on the "outs and abouts"of Miss Virgin Islands, so this post is dedicated solely to updating you all on what I've been up to! First let me say I hope everyone had an amazing Thanksgiving holiday! I'll definitely remember mine, the very first thanksgiving where I paid attention to how much food I put on my plate. (Not Fun but Necessary :). This was also the first Thanksgiving holiday that I refrained from taking a slice of every single cake, pie, and tart on the kitchen counter! 

"Drug Free Is Me"

Now, that I've told you about my ''eventful'' holiday, what's next!? My community service and involvement of course! Over the past few months and have been consistently involved with many different activities here in the Virgin Islands. One of the most uplifting was certainly that of the "Drug Free is Me" march and program. I was asked to walk with students and the Ivanna Eudora Kean marching band in a parade promoting drug use prevention among the entire community. I was also asked to speak on the topic of drug abuse, and I made it clear that drug use affects our community terribly, but if we work together to prevent the senseless use of illegal drugs, we can certainly make it past any obstacle that negative drug use presents. I was also given the opportunity to learn quite about about red ribbon week from a featured DEA agent and gained so much inspiration from the true story of Mr. Vanterpool and how he overcame his struggle with substance abuse as a veteran of the police force.

"There She Sings"
Kokopelli's Kafe has quite a few of the BEST things in the world, best hamburgers, best steaks and best owners! Jen and Pat Witcher have become such a solid force behind me as a get closer and closer to my task of dominating the Miss America competition this coming January. Jen has if anything, become the one of persons on my team, most determine to see that I do well, but also to see that I am happy and comfortable with every thing. Pat has made it his goal to see that I am fully prepared for any curve ball question during interview and that I am extremely grateful for. They are both so very dedicated to me and I am so grateful. I was invited by them to sign autographs and perform my Miss America talent during there night of live music!
I had a great time showcasing my talent for my local Virgin Islanders and their support was amazing. It truly brought me to tears. I simply cannot wait to perform my talent for the entire nation to see, and make my territory proud. It was also amazing to see how many people were just as excited to meet with me! While signing my autograph cards (Printed by the amazing Color Max V.I.) I received so many well wishes and words of encouragement. I was reminded how truly loved and respected I am among my people.

"Speaking to the Delta Gems"

Most recently, I was given the amazing opportunity of speaking to a group of girls that are mentored by the local chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority. I was so enthused to see so many amazing women of our community truly take part in uplifting those that remind us so much of our former selves. I shared this moment with my fellow queen sisters, Miss USVI World, Taeisa Lashley and Miss USVI International Vanessa Donastorg. We spoke on the benefits of pageantry and how it should be used to build confidence, determination and the will to succeed even after having failed. We each, spoke on our separate experiences and on how pageantry was beneficial towards us.  I am so grateful to both Taeisa and Vanessa for helping me with promoting my platform and for being continuously supportive of my journey. 

So far, so good. As January draws closer, my preparations have become far more intense but I continue to involve myself endlessly because above all, my goal is to serve.I hope you all enjoyed this post! Stay tuned for my work out post and my next pageant platform queen! 

All My Love,
Miss Virgin Islands.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Queen Time, Free Time! :)

I got a little bit of free time this past week. I absolutely love my job as Miss Virgin Islands. Various community service, school and event visits and always inspirational and enjoyable to be apart of but this past Monday, I just got to relax and enjoy a welcomed "perk'' as Miss Virgin Islands. I was given a V.I.P. invitation to the annual Paradise Jam Basketball tournament held on my home island of St. Thomas every year! I spent my time in the V.I.P. box  with the amazing Miss International U.S.V.I., Vanessa Donastorg. We were treated so nicely and spent so much of our night trying to figure out how the magician did his tricks! All in all, it was a great experience. The games were so intense, luckily I was barely distracted by the handsome players. Congratulations to both men and women tournament division winners! And thank you to all those that played a part in putting together such an amazing event. The Virgin Islands definitely can't wait to see you guys again next year. As I've said before, the life of a title holder is extremely demanding. I cherish the moments I get to rest and do nothing but enjoy the leisure that comes along with holding such a prestigious title. This pictures captures one of those moments! Vanessa just so happens to be a good friend and has been an amazing support system in my journey to Miss America! Again, I'm so grateful for her and the many other queens that have taken such an interest in making sure I'm completely prepared to represent my territory during the competition. I love you all so much!

Pageant Platform Queen: Sheniqua Robinson Miss Virgin Islands 2010

My next queen is as strong as pageant queens probably come. He persistence and determination have been such an inspiration to me. I distinctly remember my first phone call with her. She told me get those tears out and toughen up because this journey would take so much out of me, but if I were smart enough I could see it for what it's worth. She made sure to tell me that I'll be working hard for one thing, but I should not forget the many things I will gain from my experience in Las Vegas. She is definitely the queen that "knocked" the tough into me instantly. She has also proven that pageantry not only builds confidence but strength superior many. So Here She is, my Miss Virgin Islands and Miss America sister Sheniqua Robinson!

Tell us about yourself.
My name is Sheniqua Robinson and I am a 25 year old senior at the University of the Virgin Islands, majoring in Communications. I’ve been dancing since the age of three which inspired me to promote “Dance: A Movement Towards Better Health” as my platform at the 2011 Miss America Pageant. I was crowned Miss St. Croix Festival Queen 2008-2009, which gave me the opportunity to compete throughout the Caribbean both in Nevis (Miss Caribbean Culture) and Antigua (Miss Jaycees Caribbean Queen). I was also crowned Miss Virgin Islands in 2010 and had the AMAZING privilege to be a part of Miss America’s 90th anniversary pageant in 2011. Besides all the pageant stuff, I simply enjoy playing basketball, softball and volleyball.

Why did you compete for the Miss Virgin Islands title?
I competed for the Miss Virgin Islands title for the opportunity to represent the VI at the Miss America Pageant and also in order to assist with the furthering of my education, being that Miss Virgin Islands is a scholarship pageant. 

How did you prepare for the local pageant? What did you do  to prepare for the Miss America pageant?
 I honestly didn’t prepare much for the on-stage portion of the local pageant. I was more focused on the interview aspect of the competition. I watched the news every evening, kept up with current events and made sure I knew every aspect of my platform. That evening, I walked away with Miss Intellect, Best Swimwear, and Best Talent along with the title. In preparation for Miss America, I practically did the same things but I focused a lot more on my talent (dance). I made several adjustments to my dance routine and continued to keep up with world-wide events. 

What has been your most memorable experience?
I have two of them. My first memorable experience is being a guest speaker at several schools while promoting my platform. The most unforgettable and fun part about that is when I’m walking down the street, some of the students still tend to scream out my name and tell their parents about my visit to their schools. That gets me every time! My second memorable experience would definitely have to be being a part of Miss America’s 90th Anniversary Pageant. The experience on a whole was remarkable but our “class” got a lot of extra perks for being an anniversary year! That experience is unforgettable.  

Has pageantry assisted you in accomplishing any professional or personal goals? How has it done so/ not done so?
Definitely!!!! Pageantry has enabled me to find my calling as a Communications Major. Originally, I was studying to become a pharmacist, but my heart wasn’t in it. After speaking at so many events and schools, it dawned on me that that’s something I do easily and naturally; therefore, I decided to change my major to reflect just that. Pageantry has opened many opportunities for me, for instance, I was asked earlier this year to be the keynote speaker at a graduation as “Miss VI 2010.” I agreed and attended the event. After I delivered my address, I was approached by the President of a major company here in the Virgin Islands. She told me she wanted me to be a part of the company because she saw something in me. She loved the way I delivered my speech and my personality. Today, I’m currently working with the company with hopes of climbing the corporate ladder after receiving my degree. Thanks to “pageantry” and being a guest speaker at that event, doors are opened for me in my career field.

What is next for you?
I don’t know what the future holds for me, but I do know that I’m ambitious and it’s going to be great things. I’m heavily focused on school right now and after receiving my degree in Communications, I immediately plan to pursue my Masters. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

13 Fun Facts You Probably Didn't Know.....

It's important that my supporters and fans have a clear idea of who I am.  I thought this would be a fun way for you guys to learn some of the interesting things about me! So, here are "The Lucky Thirteen" fun things you probably didn't know about Miss Virgin Islands. 

      1. I have an obsession with Harry Potter. I own every book and movie and I can probably answer any question you have about the world of wizardry.

2. I skipped kindergarten…yup! Learned my ABC’s faster than anybody’s business.

3. I’ve had stitches in my head on two separate occasions, before I was seven. I demanded McDonalds     from the doctor, and told him that was the only way I’d let him finish.

4. I’m terrified of the dark. Like, I need a night light unless I’m with someone, terrified.

5. I have an insanely mixed heritage, Caribe Indian, Dutch, Nigerian, Ethiopian and that’s just what I know about.

6. I have this wish, to perform “Mean” with Taylor Swift, live, on stage, before I die.

      7. In my mind, I’m the best dancer. In reality, I have as much rhythm as a broken salsa CD.

8. I love Selena! I’ll sing Como La Flor and Amor Prohibido all night long, even though my Spanish isn’t fluent.

9. My best friend is going to kill me for this one, but I’m not a “Twilight” fan. I like it, because I love stories about forbidden love. But I could do without the vampires and werewolves.

10. I don’t like makeup. I didn’t know how to do my own make up before MAOTeen back in August! But I’m learning and I’m getting good. ;)

11. I failed the written portion driver’s exam four times, but I eventually passed. J

12. I've always wanted to be a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader.

13. I love the Los Angeles Lakers! 

                                       I'll let you guys in on some more fun facts soon! 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

USF Graduate to Compete in 2013 Miss America Pageant...GUESS WHO!?

My Alma Mater has honored me with an amazing article about my accomplishments! Laura Kneski and I spoke for quite sometime and I was so happy that she was excited to write such an amazing article about me. I love my bull country and I cannot wait to show off that green and gold pride in Las Vegas this coming January! Check on the article by clicking on the link to the bottom. I am so honored and overwhelmed with joy, it's so encouraging to know that I have such a force behind me! It is humbling to know that my school is proud of me. GO BULLS!

USF Graduate to Compete in 2013 Miss America Pageant

Success Without Struggle...Is Nothing.

‎"A constant struggle, a ceaseless battle to bring success from inhospitable surroundings and people, is the price

 of all great achievements." - Orison Swett Marden

Friday, November 9, 2012

I Voted Y'all!

This years election was EXTREMELY important for numerous reasons. This would be my first time voting in any election. In 2008 I was just 17, so back then my opinion or my voice didn't matter, it didn't count. I made sure I was registered the second time around, I would not be missing out on elections any longer. I have also been a strong advocate for being heard, and encouraging my peers to vote. I don't think my twitter has ever been so consumed with political views and facts. My goal: Encourage my peers to be heard. After all, our voice matters the most, because this country will be ours in just a few years. Regardless, of who you vote for, it's important that you vote. We have so much to overcome in the next four years. But, I believe that if we stand behind our president, we can accomplish great progression and success as a nation. We are all different people and we come from different places, our walks of life have not all been the same, so normally our views on you should or should have been president will most certainly "clash." But, one thing we all can agree on, as Americans, is that we have the right to choose our leaders. We must exercise this right. So, I voted y'all because, as a woman, a student and a future leader, my opinion matters, as does yours. So much had to transpire for me to be afforded this right, and I don't plan on relinquishing it any time soon. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

My Crown Never Comes Off...

I've been AWAY! I hope you guys have not forgotten about me, because I certainly have not forgotten about my fans and supporters. You all are most definitely a great motivation behind me. It's a bit overwhelming coming from a territory that is more often than not, looked over. I am only the ninth representative from the U.S. Virgin Islands to compete in the Miss America Pageant. I have been working and training endlessly to prove that I am a true contender and that I belong on this path, I deserve this just as much as all my Miss America sisters do. I am not to be looked over, because my passion is intense and my drive and determination are endless. I hope that thus far, I have made you all proud. I've been wearing this crown all my life, I just never knew it. I've always had something to say, something to prove to the world. I've always known that my passion for enhancing the lives of young women, would take me to unimaginable heights. But, Miss America is a mountain I'd never thought I would climb. But climb it I will, and every single time I fall or stumble, I get up and stand taller and I push harder. Miss America 2012, the amazing Laura Kaepeller, sent us all an email a few days ago. In it she said something that is most certainly definite; "God knows who the next Miss America will be." He's already planned it. It's already part of his design. But, if I use the tools and talent that God has given me, who knows, I might just be next. With all that being said...I will never count myself out, I will always aim to excel with every step I take and every obstacle I encounter. Not just as a queen, but as a woman, a leader, a philanthropist and student. Through it all, I will stand as tall as a queen should, as strong as she must and as graceful as is expected. As we all should, with all that we do. I've always worn my "invisible crown" and that is why every failure I have encountered has only been a lesson to prepare me for success.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Pageant Platform Featured Queen: Janeisha John

What do you call an island girl filled with determination and drive, a former Miss America and Miss universe Contestant, a successful news reporter, model and student? I'm not sure what you would call her, but I'd call her Janeisha John and my fourth platform featured queen! Her list of accomplishments is endless, but one thing that radiates far more than any of her amazing talents or conquests is her humility. She is by far, a stunner, and an achiever of things that some of us can only dream of. But she's never lost sight of where she's come from and she's never forgotten that her duty is to serve those around her and make them proud. It is so exciting to have such an amazing woman take part in my project and platform to promote the benefits of pageantry. So, take a glimpse at Janeisha's Interview. Nothing short of amazing.

Tell us about yourself.

Hi Aniska, it’s truly an honor to be featured as a former queen on your blog! A little bit about myself, I am former Miss US Virgin Islands 2007-2008 and Miss US Virgin Islands Universe 2010-2011. I graduated from the University of the Virgin Islands in 2009 with my BA in Business Admin/Marketing. Currently I am a General News Reporter at CBS-TV2 News 2, as well as a VJ/ Host for TEMPO Networks. I am a lover of the arts, anything involving music, fashion, dance, art, film, photography, modeling, etc… I somehow mysteriously find myself involved lol but I love it though! I love bread and cheese (I grew up in a bakery, shoutout to Centerline Bakery bup bup!lol), I deny it as my favorite but I always steer towards the color pink, I love traveling, love spending time with family, and in recent years have become somewhat of a beach bum, guess that’s the island girl in me!  
What made you compete for not one, but two internationally prestigious titles (Miss Virgin Islands, Miss Virgin Islands Universe)?
Well some might call it the “pageant itch” lol, they say once you run for one you keep running for them. For me though, it was more of a challenge to be able to represent my islands on what many see as the “grandest stage” in pageantry. At Miss America I was very young and not fully aware of the opportunities that came with competing in an international and national competition, so after Miss America I decided to give it another whirl and compete for Miss VI Universe. I actually had to wait almost two years for the committee to gather contestants because they couldn't find enough girls to compete, but once they did it was GO time for me! Being the first and only queen thus far to capture both titles is truly an honor, but I’m hoping that one of these days one of my other Miss VIs will continue that legacy, maybe one day it’ll be you Aniska. ;-). 
What do you feel is the hugest benefit to a young woman competing in pageants?
Well everyone benefits from pageantry in different ways, but for me the hugest benefit would be finding a sense of self. Being able to identify myself, build my character and grasp a firmer understanding of who I am as a woman was amazing to me. I found my voice, my purpose, and that is something that I can carry with me forever; and I think that many other young women discover this after competing in pageants. 
What did you learn about yourself during the pageant? 
I learned that I am not perfect and that not being perfect is a beautiful thing. International pageants can be the most humbling experience for any woman. You will discover your weaknesses but most importantly your strengths, and for me finding my strengths and weaknesses has made me a person who isn’t afraid to take risks and also isn’t afraid of failure. 
Do you think that pageants are a good opportunity for young women? Why or Why not?
I am a strong believer in the pageant system and I think it’s a great opportunity for young women if they choose to let it be. It takes more than just competing and winning a title. Young women have to be willing to be open-minded and see the experience as an opportunity to grow. I have pageant sisters in every state and in over 90 countries in the world and many of these women are business women, philanthropists, artists, models, TV hosts, inspirational speakers; just truly beautiful women inside and out, and I’m positive that they all can say that competing in pageants contributed to that success. 
What has been your most memorable experience?
Well besides being on both the Miss America and Miss Universe stages, I would say that my most memorable experience would be my New York experience. I moved to NYC about three weeks after Miss Universe, and the experience was life changing for me. I got the opportunity to attend many events as Miss USVI, such as the Athletes vs Cancer Charity function for former Lakers player Matt Barnes along with Miss Universe and Miss Teen USA. I also attended the Mercedes Benz New York Fashion Week, where I was able to sit front row at the Venexiana Fashion Show along with former NFL player Maurice Leggett. Front row at any NY Fashion week show is a huge deal so the media went crazy asking who I was. I must admit it felt really good to tell them I was Miss US Virgin Islands and to see the many blogs and fashion sites post it. I also had the opportunity to be a red carpet Correspondent for Project Runway Designer Mychael Knight’s Fashion Show, where I got to interview the likes of Trina, Sherri Shepherd, BBWLA’s Gloria and Laura Govan, Love & Hip Hop’s Olivia, and even Nicki Minaj’s Hair stylist. The VIP treatment in NY as Miss Virgin Islands was a great feeling but most importantly it gave me the opportunity to talk to people about my islands. The second people heard I was Miss Virgin Islands, all they wanted to know was what it’s like here and I loved telling them how amazing my home is. 
In your opinion, are pageants  still heavily influenced only by the beauty of the young woman, or is does it require more than that?
I honestly think it depends on which pageant system you are competing for. A pageant like Miss America is more focused on service and scholarship, so intellect plays a major role in how well you do. On the other hand, Miss Universe, which is known for having amazingly stunning titleholders, is a little sexier, in the sense that they are looking more for a model type to carry the Miss Universe brand. Overall based on my personal experiences it is much more than what appears on stage. Beauty does play a major role but so do other things, and at the end of the day these pageant systems are a franchise, so for some it’s simply viewed as a business.
If anything, has pageantry had a negative or positive effect on your self image/self esteem? How so?
In all honestly, at some point it had both negative and positive effects on my self image/self esteem. Being around amazingly tall, beautiful women, with perfect bodies, skin, and hair, who dressed up like dolls every single day is NOT easy for anybody, and can be quite intimidating. I had my days where I would second guess how I looked, how tall I was, how I dressed, etc… and reading pageant blogs that tarnished contestant’s names did not help at all! However, there was a turning point where realized that a lot of those “perfect” girls have many flaws and I realized that everyone has insecurities, everyone has at least one thing they wish was different about them, and that’s perfectly fine. NO one is perfect and the second you accept and understand that, then you've already won. I've grown from my pageant experiences, I am now a strong person, who is fine with  who I am. Some might think I’m beautiful and some others might not, at the end of the day, it’s what I think that counts.

....Hope this answers your questions Aniska. I really think what you’re doing for young women’s self esteem is amazing! It shows that you have already opened your mind to making this pageant experience a growing one! It also shows that your mind and motives are in the right place, I hope that takes you to 1stplace hon! Keep up the good work and I’m looking forward to seeing you take Miss America by storm!....

To Whom Much Is Given: My Visit To St. Peter & Paul Cathedral School

Hey Guys! I know it's been a while. I've been extremely busy though. Talent practice is well under way, I've chosen my song and it's perfect, very fitting of the place I'm in right now, as far as life goes. My vocal coach is amazing! I absolutely love her. She makes it easy, and absolutely enjoyable. I can't wait to head up to Jacksonville to meet with my pageant coach to put the final touches on everything. But, my local team is definitely keeping meon my toes. Need less to say, I have a great team behind me as far a performance preparation. So, now that I've gotten you up to speed with why I've been so incognito, I'd love to share my school visit with you. 

I was invited to share some time with the first grade class at the St. Peter and Paul Cathedral School. As you all know, bullying has become such an epidemic in our school environment, so I decided that would be the initial topic of discussion for the young ones. We first defined what bullying was, and KeithAnne (a student of the class) defined it best. "Bullying is being mean to other people, in a way that you wouldn't want them to be mean to you." I emphasized the importance of being nice to those that may not be nice to you, and we also spoke about what to do if you are ever plagued by a bully. After tackling the issue of bullying, the students and I took part in an activity, I told them what I would try to accomplish as Miss Virgin Islands, and they each wrote me a letter, informing me of one specific thing they would like me to do for them during my year of service. After all, with my title, my job is to give selflessly. I got a few "interesting" requests. Quite a bit made me laugh. I was asked for an xbox, a trip to Trinidad and Tobago, I was even asked to complete a few home work assignments! Another student asked for a crown just like mine, but not exactly like mine, but close enough so that we could be sisters. Another requested that I try my best in Las Vegas and win. That one I'll try and do for sure. The most memorable was a young girl, she asked of me, something that I truly believe broke my heart. She began to cry and read her letter aloud to me. She hugged me afterwards and if all I could do was comfort her, then that I would. Overall, my visit was amazing. I hope to do it again.

P.S. My fellow title holders be weary of letting the little girls "touch" your crown. I made that mistake and it was nothing short of yanked of my head! I laughed it off because can you really blame a six year old girl for craving a shiny princess crown? :)

I then traveled upstairs to visit with the 9th-12th grade girls, to speak about my platform which is so close to my heart, and those girls were not easy on me! I began by telling them a little about myself and why I chose my platform. My struggles with low self esteem are my motivation to prevent any young woman from encountering that. My goal to change the idea of beauty is persistent and never ending because no girl can ever live up to the physical standards placed on her by society, and no girl should ever have to. We spoke about beauty being that which lies within. What you think and what you give back makes you beautiful. A face will fade away with time, but if you are able to  inspire and leave an amazing message with someone, that above all else makes you beautiful. The questions rolled in one after the other. I was asked about boyfriends, they were awed that a beauty queen likes her natural curls. They questioned the motives of beauty queens, "Do they really pepper spray dresses?" "How many of you all starve yourself before the pageant?" Of course I've never experienced either. Every single one of my Miss America sisters have been nothing but positive thus far, welcoming and enjoyable, and I emphasized the fact that Miss America is based on a healthy life style. Hurting yourself for a pageant is never worth it. Then, after grilling me endlessly, they requested that I sing for them! I was terrified. Even now, teenage girls stir a certain fright in me. They are the harshest critics, but I swallowed all those fears and sand the very first verse of "I Have Nothing" by Whitney Houston. They applauded after it all, thank goodness. So If I'm good to them, then I've got this. We left each other, and I knew that I had left a lasting impression on them. That is always my goal and I think on that day, I achieved it.

 Thank you so much to these girls for being welcoming and although they weren't easy on me, they sure did prepare me for things I'll have too get used to. Love you guys! 

....“For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.” (Luke 12:48)....

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Miss Virgin Islands 2012: A Message To Those I Humbly Serve

The United States Virgin Islands is a complete melting pot of so many different cultures and characters. I myself, am a little bit of everything. I'm a dash of a country girl, born in the great state of Texas, A hint of a Florida fighter, educated at the great University of South Florida, and more than a few cups of an authentic island girl.  At just a young age, I have experienced quite a few different arenas. But, with all that is different about is, there is far more in common. Our values are so very much alike.
We are raised to be respectable, driven and determined. We strive, always, to do our very best. We are a welcoming people, open to the ideas and views of many others. I think growing up in this beautiful paradise, has enabled me to be an amazing ambassador for my country, The United States of America. I have had the opportunity to meet an experience the lives of people from many different places, and we are a country composed of many different people from many different back grounds. As a potential candidate for the title of  Miss America 2013, it is important to know who you are representing. It is also pertinent to know that you are handed the task of representing those different than yourself. I have had the amazing opportunity to be an ambassador for the Virgin Islands once before as the Junior Commissioner of Tourism in the year 2007, I represented this American paradise among several different islands of the Caribbean at the annual Caribbean Tourism Conference.  I now hope with everything that is within me to be honored with the job of representing not just my island home, but my beloved country as Miss America 2013. Although this task is very hard, and the odds may not always be in my favor, I was always taught that if I have a Father than can give and take life, and walk on water...Nothing is impossible. My only goal, through every step of this journey is to make my home, and my country proud. Regardless of the outcome, it is my wish that my fellow country men see how truly dedicated I am, and will always be to the progression of us all. Through my platform, my performance and my perseverance I hope to make you all proud.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Flash Back: MAOT Orlando

I was browsing through pictures and came across a few snap shots from my first trip as Miss Virgin Islands. I'm still so proud of my Outstanding teen Aliyah, she was amazing. I love her like a little sister, and I'm so honored to be spending my reign with such a talented and driven young woman. Ms. Claire Roker ,my chaperon, is still my go to gal for any and everything I need! After long days it sky high heels, Ms. Roker made sure I had extra snacks in my room, and made sure I had everything I needed to be extremely comfortable on my whirlwind trip. What's not to love about that? I'm forever grateful and I can't wait to visit them both on our sister island, St. Croix. 
Could you believe it's been more than a month since I've met some of the most amazing women in the country? These girls and myself, will share a bond like no other for the rest of our lives. There will never again be a Miss America Class of 2013. I'm pretty excited to see them all very soon! I distinctly remember our first encounter. I had just landed in Orlando and was rushed to an orientation. I was terrified and a bit nervous, meeting 52 of the most talented, beautiful and intellectual women in the country. I remember Miss Maine welcoming me instantly, pulling a chair beside her seeing as I was late and had no where to sit. A few of us clicked instantly when we found out we all loved Harry Potter! I remember being a bit jealous of Miss Texas, she visited the Harry Potter attraction just days before! I definitely Miss the two Mariah's (Miss Iowa and Miss Nebraska). Miss Nebraska and I bonded over a complete fear of roller coasters or anything scary on our trip to Disney world! She's my "sit this one out" buddy for life. Miss California saved us both though! I swear nothing scares her, she's pretty much down for anything. I definitely can't wait to see them again . I think it's sometimes forgotten that one of the most important parts of any competition, is the lasting friendship you can gain with so many of the girls. I look forward to that. I'm most excited about getting to know these amazing women even more. We're definitely a class to keep your eye on. We have quite a few things going for ourselves, and I don't think we'll disappoint you guys.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Pre-K Reading Visit

Growing up, I was always told that it takes a village to raise a child. Luckily, I'm so connected to two "villages." Although I was raised for most of my life in the Virgin Islands, I was born and spent a significant amount of time in Houston, Texas. That has allowed me to acquire values from around the country. This country has done so much and has played such a vital role in the woman I've become. So although, I continuously promote my platform, I also give back to those that may not be directly affected by my platform.

I was invited to read to a pre-kindergarten class this past week. What an amazing time we all had. I've worked with little ones before, but with each new group is a new experience. We read about the "Things Mommies and Daddies do Best." So attentive they were, but they also asserted any views that they might have had to go along with the story. This is the part of my job as Miss Virgin Islands that I love the most I am able to play a part in their lives. When my title is gone, why impact will still remain. That, above all, is most important.

I've always thought that those younger than us are the most important. They keep us pure at heart and they push us all to make this world a better place for them. They show us that acceptance truly isn't based on anything but that which lies within. I'm sure I taught them a few things that day, but as always they taught me so much more.
"Every child comes with a message that God is not yet discouraged by man"
-Rabindranath Tagore