(Courtney at big/little reveal for her sorority. Photo Credit: Facebook)
School: University of South Florida
Major: Social Work
How did you get involved in pageants? What titles have you held?
(Courtney’s first photo shoot as Miss Central Florida Nationwide 2016. Photo Credit: Facebook)
How did it feel after placing first runner-up at Miss Nationwide 2015 to come back the next year and win the title?
“Miss Florida Nationwide 2015 was only my second Pageant so winning runner up was a huge deal for me already so coming back the next year and winning Miss Florida Nationwide 2016 was very exciting. I felt blessed to be able to represent my state!”
Miss Nationwide changed to an online format the year you were Miss Florida Nationwide, can you elaborate on that and how that experience was different from 2015?
“The online format was very different from any pageant I have ever done. There was not an evening gown competition or casual wear like in 2015. Instead I had to submit videos talking about my platform and why I wanted to be Miss Nationwide. Then I had to create a website and answer interview questions essay-style.”
How did it feel to receive the message that you had made the Top 10 at Miss Nationwide?
“I spent all day refreshing my phone checking for it to be announced and I was really excited to make it into the Top 10. It was my first national pageant and Top 10 was my goal and I accomplished it. I was also proud of myself because I had worked really hard for about a year to I make it to that point. The 10 scoring was done by judges and not through popular vote (family and friends pay for votes) like the Top 5 selection was so I knew making Top 5 would be more difficult.”
(Courtney and her friend before the announcement of the winner of the 2016 Miss Elite APCC Pageant. Courtney was first runner-up. Photo Credit: Facebook)
What was your favorite moment of holding the title?
“I can’t think of a favorite moment because there were so many great times but the month of April 2016 was amazing. I traveled the state making appearances for Child Abuse Prevention Month (sometimes 2 or 3 a day). I was able to declare April Child Abuse Prevention Month in Highlands county, throw the first pitch at a minor league baseball game where all the money went to child abuse prevention, meet so many community leaders and amazing kids, and so much more! It was a very hectic but amazing month.”
I know in past conversations with you that your platform is incredibly personal. Could you tell me about it?
“My platform is Child Abuse Prevention. From age two to age 16 I was abused by both of my step-parents. It was mostly psychologically and verbal but there was physically abuse as well. Part of why I had to take such a long break from pageants was because we were in a court battle against my stepdad for child abuse and domestic violence and it wasn’t safe for me to compete or be in the public light at all. We won our court case against him but he didn’t serve any time. He hasn’t seen any of us in more than five years and isn’t allowed to be within a certain distance of us. The abuse still causes me problems today but I am over-coming them. While my life wasn’t easy it wasn’t as bad as what other children go through. I have made it my mission to save as many children as possible, which is why I am majoring in social work.”
(Courtney’s Pageant Regalia. Photo Credit: Facebook)
How have pageants impacted your life?
“Pageants have given me a voice and have helped me overcome some of the body image issues that I had due to the verbal abuse I went through. Pageants give me the opportunity to speak with community leaders about child abuse and to make a difference for children.”