Happy Monday Lady Code! As you may know, the new Miss USA 2014, Nia Sanchez was crowned in Baton Rouge, Louisiana last night! I love being a part of beauty pageants in some way, whether its competing, judging, or just watching, there’s something very inspiring about these pageants. During a pageant, women show confidence as they walk in their swimwear, elegance and grace as she competes in her evening gown, and then shows her intelligence during the on-stage question. These characteristics are very important, but there are more things to beauty pageants than confidence, elegance, and intelligence.
The most important thing about being a beauty queen is understanding that you are a role model in your community. Every now and then, you find that beauty queen who is beautiful, intelligent, accomplished, and graceful…but also she is selfless, humble, and actively works in her community to make it a better place.
One woman I know who is a phenomenal role model as a beauty queen is Taiesa Lashley, Miss Intercontinental U.S. Virgin Islands 2014. Taiesa works actively in her community to make it a better place. In fact, in this interview, she tells Lady Code, ” Serving your country by helping your community is my way of encouraging others to assist others and positively impact their community.”
I am so excited to have the opportunity to introduce Taiesa to you today! Her story is very exciting and inspiring. Although she will be competing in her second international pageant (after Miss World 2012) at Miss Intercontinental 2014, I have a feeling her journey has just begun. Taiesa has a very bright future ahead of her, and Lady Code is so proud to support her amazing journey as Miss Intercontinental U.S. Virgin Islands 2014!
Favorite Color: Yellow
Favorite Book: Very difficult question, as I am an avid reader! Some of my top suggestions are: The Child Called It by Dave Pelzer ; My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult; Strength Finder by Tom Rath; Who moved my Cheese by Spencer John; The Room by Emma Donoghue. I have read all of the aforementioned titles multiple times.
Favorite Workout: Zumba
Graduated from the Johnson and Wales University with:
B.S. in Hospitality Management
A.S. in Travel Tourism Management
I am currently balancing 2 careers-
Catering Guest Service Manager at Walt Disney World’s Contemporary Resort
Civil Affairs Specialist in the U.S. Army Reserve
Hobbies: Reading, cooking, singing, volunteering, planning events
Congratulations on being Miss Intercontinental U.S. Virgin Islands 2014! Can you tell us how you got involved with pageantry?
I started competing in local pageants in St.Thomas, USVI at the age of 7. It definitely brought out the best in me and opened doors to many opportunities that have positively impacted my life. Over the years I have earned thousands of dollars in scholarship monies, traveled, built friendships, had the privilege to compete in the Miss World competition in 2012 and now Miss Intercontinental 2014.
What would you say to a woman who may be on the line about competing in a pageant?
There are many different pageant systems and if you choose the one that focuses on your strengths, you can be very successful. Do your research or connect with someone with experience to choose the right pageant system. Give it a shot, even if you don’t win the exposure can assist your career or provide a platform to do many great things in your community.
What is the most rewarding thing about pageants?
Being able to share the importance of participating in community service activities and positioning myself as a role model has been the most rewarding thing about competing in pageants.
Tell us about your platform:
All of my life I have been very involved in my community. Service has been the reoccurring theme and was the obvious choice when it was time to make the decision as to what my platform would be. Serving your country by helping your community is my way of encouraging others to assist others and positively impact their community. What I love about volunteering is that one can choose any cause and truly make a difference. Different life experiences cause us to champion different causes, and no matter what that cause may be; it is a worthy one. Community service is great for the community but also highly beneficial for the volunteer themselves. Volunteers gain and develop skills, are able to network, gain new life perspectives and leadership skills just to name a few. Volunteering is a win-win situation for the community and the volunteer.
Have you ever experienced bullying?
It’s unfortunate that children can be so cruel over trivial things. I was verbally and socially bullied for a couple of years in elementary school.
How did you first react to bullying?
Bullying definitely affected my self-esteem in a negative way and for a while I saw myself as an unattractive little girl. I disliked my skin tone, my hair, and my body immensely (things I was teased about). I wanted to be one of the “popular” girls who wore the trendy shoes and had the cool book bags. Eventually I kept to myself and avoided talking with others in groups. I did anything to avoid being around large groups of kids including take the long way home. This resulted in feelings of sadness and loneliness.
How did you overcome bullying, and how has it made a difference in who you are today?
As I got older and participated in more pageants and extra-circular activities my self-esteem grew. Being surrounded by other young ladies enabled me to develop friends. I realized that I should never let anyone make me feel unattractive and that I didn’t have to put up with name calling or teasing. I found comfort in telling adults about the situation and having them hold the individuals responsible for my unhappiness accountable. My experiences have made me cautious about the way I talk and treat others even as an adult. Being respectful and kind while communicating with others is very important. One day when I have a family I know that I will share my experiences with my children and encourage them not to accept being bullied and never to be a bystander.
Do you have any advice you can offer for our readers who may be bullied?
Sometimes during school visits I see young men and women that remind me of myself at that age- I make sure to make time for them and encourage them to be vocal and report it. No one has the right to make you feel uncomfortable or unhappy. Protecting yourself is a form of loving yourself. Always remember to treat others with kindness and respect.
What can our readers do within their communities to get involved?
This depends on what causes are important to an individual. I strongly believe in choosing a cause that means a lot to individual so that they are highly motivated to participate during their free time. You can find a list activities on Corporation for National & Community Service – United We serve (http://www.serve.gov/) or Volunteer.gov (http://www.volunteer.gov/) . You can also check your local paper for service activities or school for a list of service activties.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years from now?
Within the next 5 years I plan on becoming an executive at Walt Disney World, being an entrepreneur and having a non-profit organization promoting community service activities and graduating with my M.S. in Leadership. I am very goal oriented and my vision board along with my mentor assists me with staying on track to achieve these goals.
Who is your role model and why?
The First Lady of the United States of America, Mrs. Michelle Obama is my role model. I had the privilege of meeting her at Walt Disney World’s Veteran’s Institute this past November after I participated on the Veteran’s Panel. Not only does she champion education but she advocates for healthy lifestyle, education, veteran issues and community service- ideals that I am also very passionate about.
Keep up with Taiesa!
Facebook Page: Taiesa Lashley (https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Taiesa-Lashley/171144643059892)