Meet Danielle! This two time Miss America Titleholder competed a total of 10 times before winning her first title. I sat down with this determined young woman to talk about her life on and off the stage.
(Danielle and her best friend, Carolyn, celebrate Carolyn’s Spring 2017 graduation from the University of Florida. Photo: Facebook)
Hometown: Wellington, Florida
School: University of Florida (Go Gators!!)
Major: Telecommunications and Political Science
Why did you choose the University of Florida?
“I had my heart set on going out of state and attending an Ivy League, and I even got in to three! I was set to go, but my parents stopped by Gainesville on our way to Georgia one rainy day in April and convinced me to go on a tour. As I stood in the Swamp, holding an umbrella in the pouring rain, I realized that I wanted to be part of the Gator Nation. I fell in love with the school spirit and the true “college experience” of an SEC school. I’ll save the Ivy Leagues for law school!”
What activities are you involved with on campus?
“Most of my time is spent in the newsroom on campus. I work as a producer and anchor for the station. I also work as an NPR Morning Edition radio host. When I am not in the newsroom, I am doing some task for the two student groups I run on campus. I currently serve as President for both the National Broadcasting Society and Turning Point USA. NBS is a professional organization that seeks to aid in the professional and personal development of broadcast journalists. I organize workshops, socials, and an annual trip to the national convention. The other organization that is close to my heart is TPUSA. TPUSA is a non-partisan political organization that advocates for freedoms of speech and an open political dialogue. I use this organization to engage my generation and the ones below mine to become active in politics and have their voice be heard.”
(Danielle and her friends at at University of Florida football game. Photo: Facebook)
What are your career goals?
“While I intend to obtain both a Masters in Mass Communication and a Juris Doctorate, I would love to one day work as a political news anchor at one of the major networks. I would use my knowledge of communications and the law to offer a new perspective on political issues. Politics are my passion. I want to make sure my generation is politically engaged and knowledgeable. I love how the media industry is ever growing and changing. I think that social media will play a key role in the future of my profession.”
(Danielle pulling double-duty as a journalist and titleholder at an appearance. Photo: Facebook)
How did you get involved in pageants?
“I entered my first pageant when I was 17 and a senior in high school. If you are from the South Florida area and know about pageants, you have probably heard of the Miss South Florida Fair pageant. It is the training ground for the Miss America system and often attracts young high school girls seeking scholarship money. I was one of those girls! My guidance counselor had encouraged me to enter the pageant because she knew I had experience performing in dance, mock trial, and modeling. ”
(Danielle competing in the evening gown competition at Miss South Florida Fair 2013. Photo: Facebook)
How many pageants did you have to compete in before you won a preliminary to Miss Florida?
“I participated in nine pageants over the course of three years before winning on my 10th try! I was so proud in that moment! I walked away from each “loss” knowing that I had won something. I became stronger each try and got to meet so many girls in the process. My first year, I participated in two pageants and then decided to focus on my senior year. My second year I became a bit more serious and participated in three pageants, but decided to study abroad during the summer instead of pursuing Miss Florida. By my third year, I was determined! I competed in five pageants that year, ultimately winning the title of Miss Palm Beach County!”
How did it feel to be crowned Miss Palm beach County 2016?
“I will never forget the moment that Kayla Foreire, Miss Palm Beach County 2015, and one of my first pageant friends, called my name. Time stood still and I just praised God in that moment! All of the hard work, time, and-lets face it, money I had put in, finally paid off. I was on cloud nine for about two weeks!”
(Danielle’s crowning moment as Miss Palm Beach County 2016. Photo: Facebook)
You were crowned Miss South Florida 2017 this season and will be competing at Miss Florida for a second time. How many pageants did you have to compete in this season?
“Similarly this year, I competed in four pageants before winning my title on the fifth try. I thought that being a “returner” would make things easier, but I’m glad it didn’t. I was a runner up at every one of those pageants and I was proud of the girl that walked away with the title. Those runner-up awards made me work even harder. It pushed me to the next level and made me a better competitor.”
(Danielle after Miss Florida Citrus 2017. She was second runner-up. Photo: Facebook)
How did you feel when you were crowned?
“When I was crowned, I was just so grateful for the opportunity to return to Miss Florida this summer. I never lost hope, but it had been running thin. I was heartbroken I might not have the opportunity again.”
(Danielle and her sister queen, Autumn Nobles, after the 2017 Miss South Florida Pageant. Photo: Facebook)
What advice would you have for girls who are in a similar situation of having to compete multiple times before winning a title?
“Keep going! Your endurance and dedication will pay off. Do not look at each “loss” as that, look at it as an opportunity to get stronger, fiercer, and better. Even if you never walk away with a crown, I promise you will not walk away empty-handed. I cherish every friendship formed, every laugh shared, and ever blister on my sore feet. I know that sounds cheesy, but it’s true. The competition is just one small portion of the experience. In ten years, you wont remember how each phase of competition went, you will remember how people made you feel and each backstage moment that brought women closer together.”
(Danielle crowning her successor, Anne Marie Campbell, at the 2017 Miss Palm Beach County Pageant. Photo: Facebook)
Tell me about your platform?
“My platform is: A New Attitude, Gratitude. My platform shares a name with my foundation which is currently becoming non-profit 401c3 and the children’s book I wrote that is currently awaiting publication. Through my platform, I hope to instill an attitude of gratitude in our youth. I work as a tutor in local schools and found that many kids had a very selfish outlook on the world and a lack gratitude in their hearts. No matter the cause, I hope to end this trend. Feeling gratitude and expressing it through acts of kindness, volunteering, and other means is scientifically proven to increase overall health. I think that there are many different way to express gratitude, but one of the most evident is volunteerism. That is the main end goal of my platform, to increase volunteer effort in our youth.”
What was your experience like at Miss Florida 2016? What are you looking forward to this year?
“Miss Florida week is not for the faint of heart, but it is, by far, one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had. I grew mentally, spiritually, and literally physically. You spend upwards of six hours per day in tippy top heels with all of your Miss Florida sisters. You will have blisters, but you will also have memories that will last a lifetime. You are spending ever waking minute with these girls and there are so many emotions surrounding the whole event, it will be seared in your memory forever. I am looking forward to being a “returner” this year. I looked up to the more experienced girls so much last year and I was able to learn so much from them. I can’t wait to help all the newbies and spend more time with all my Miss Florida sisters.”
(Danielle competing in the preliminary swimsuit competition at Miss Florida 2016. Photo: Facebook)
What is your favorite phase of competition and why?
“I love the interview portion of competition. I love to talk, so the interview is my time to shine. I love it when judges keep you on your toes and ask the hard questions. I think that interview is the most important and the most intimate area of competition. This is where the judges truly get to know your heart. Interview can make or break your entire pageant experience. It’s also just fun to be able to have a conversation with professionals and members of the community. At Miss Florida, they may even be celebrities!”