Nicole Spewak | News Editor
Miss USA Ambassador, junior Alyssa Paulsen, is traveling to Tampa this weekend to attend a gala for the National USA Ambassador charity, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, and to attend a Chick-fil-A fundraiser for children with cancer. Paulsen’s main focus is on community service as is consistent with the charity’s motto, “Success through leadership, integrity, character and confidence.”
As such, Paulsen has been actively engaged in community service events leading up to her crowning, and especially since she received her title at the end of July 2012. As Miss USA Ambassador, Paulsen’s main responsibilities are to embody the motto of the pageant, be a role model to young women across America and make one trip a month as a representative for various community events.
Her trip to Florida is the first of these trips. Paulsen is also scheduled to attend a photo shoot and speak to high school students about her platform, “Inner beauty and positive body image,” in Atlanta in October. Also scheduled are trips to Las Vegas in January, where she will walk at the Miss America Pageant and help at service events. Paulsen will also go to Washington, D.C., in the spring, where she will meet government officials.
A week before the July competition in Tampa for the Miss USA Ambassador title, Paulsen’s grandfather passed away unexpectedly from diabetes.
“One thing I really wanted to do after receiving my title was partner with the American Diabetes Association this year,” Paulsen said.
Through this organization, she will be actively involved in Chicago serving as a public speaker and a representative for the association as well as working to draw supporters to their events.
Paulsen’s journey to the Miss Ambassador title began last spring after she returned from a missions trip to Haiti with the Haiti-Wheaton Partnership. Upon her return, she was praying for more opportunities to serve when God laid pageants on her heart. That same day she received an email from the Miss USA Ambassador Pageant.
Paulsen was interested because, she said, “It’s not like the typical pageant. They really encourage girls to focus on serving in community service.”
Her advisor, applied health science professor Peter Walters, encouraged her to participate because it would give her a chance to serve and share her Christian testimony.
“He was totally right. It honestly gives me more witnessing opportunities than anything I’ve ever done,” she said.
Paulsen won the Miss Illinois title, which is judged based on an interview, picture and resume, in April. After receiving the Illinois title, Paulsen spent the summer doing community service and training for the national pageant. She was involved in service events in her local community, including speaking at retirement homes and high schools, reading at children’s museums and volunteering at walkathons and at Special Olympics competitions.
When Paulsen competed for the Miss USA Ambassador title in Tampa, it had been eight years since she had participated in her last pageant, and she described the high level of competition and the demands on her time as exhausting. The night before the judging, Paulsen said she prayed, “God, you need to show me why you brought me down here.” The next day she won the title.
“I started to cry a little bit and I couldn’t move. I just pointed up to God,” Paulsen said. “Me, somebody who hasn’t done a pageant in eight years, winning something like that; I was shocked.”
The main lesson Paulsen learned through her experience was to have, she said, “A balance of confidence and humility. Everything that I accomplished was purely God’s grace and God’s blessing. I could have done absolutely nothing in my own strength.”
Her advice to young women in the community is this: “Love your bodies. Not for what they look like necessarily, but for what God created them to do.”
She also said, “Don’t hesitate when God calls you do to something. He will follow through with his plan in your life. Never be afraid to submit to his calling.”
Though she holds the Miss USA Ambassador title, Paulsen said,.“I can’t even take credit for when people tell me congratulations. It was just a God thing.”
Photo and Banner Image courtesy of Bill Kraulter
Printed in the September 14, 2012, issue of The Wheaton Record. Send comments to email@example.com.