Tracey Young, 21, is slated to compete for the 2011 Miss America title, pending a win at the Miss New Mexico pageant in June at Ruidosoâ€™s Spencer Theater.
Young, who won the title of Miss Chaves County in January, will compete with Miss Roswell, Deanna Jerge, against 19 other women, ages 17 to 24. She also has previous pageant experience, which is working in her and Jergeâ€™s favor.
â€œI help Deanna out. This is her first time doing pageants. I told her â€˜donâ€™t get a big fluffy dress, youâ€™ll look like a Barbie.â€™ Weâ€™re going to be roommates also,â€ she said.
Young will stay with a host family in Ruidoso during the competition, which is sponsored by Wrangler jeans. She will have an advocate at the pageant in Jerge, which will come in handy if any â€œpageant momâ€ drama ensues. Young spoke about meeting the pageant moms of her counterparts.
â€œIn April, we met them when we went to our workshops. Their moms were there, pageant moms, it was weird,â€ Young laughed.
She said dealing with the competition on a social level may be the most challenging part of the experience.
â€œSome of them are really uptight and others arenâ€™t so uptight. I just want to do it for myself and not have to worry about anybody else,â€ Young said.
To prepare for the competition, Young will focus a lot of her attention on her talent portion, dance, in addition to health and fitness. She said she has already started a few new habits, such as drinking water instead of soda.
â€œIâ€™ve lost weight and water helps me concentrate better,â€ Young said.
She is also taking a steady approach to her preparation.
â€œI practice at Miss Minnieâ€™s. I go over my dance over, and over, and over, because itâ€™s really hard,â€ she said.â€œI call Miss Minnie to watch it, then she critiques it. Once (the competition) gets closer, Iâ€™ll practice again with high heels.
â€œItâ€™s a good workout, because if youâ€™re doing on point like I am, you have to pull up, use every muscle in your body, and concentrate really hard,â€ she said.
Youngâ€™s platform for the competition will focus on raising awareness on Locks of Love, an organization that collects undamaged, healthy hair for people suffering from hair loss because of terminal conditions.
Already, Young has raised dollars for her platform and other initiatives. She held a bowl-a-thon, where several Main Street businesses made donations.
She said she was inspired to raise awareness through her platform after learning the fate of a friend, who was diagnosed with leukemia.
â€œIâ€™m going to school for cosmetology. When one of my ballet friends got diagnosed with leukemia, she lost all of her hair. I said, â€˜I want to do something for kids like that,â€™â€ Young said.Â â€œI donated a braid of hair to Locks of Love … back in March.â€
The former high school and collegiate track star and high jumper also has a plan to leap over the drama that comes with being a pageant competitor: headphones. Young has her own contemporary playlist of mainstream and pop music, including alternative and rock tunes and teen sensation, Justin Bieber.
The Miss America pageants have the potential to launch careers and opportunities for its participants. Young said she is not entertaining those possibilities at the moment.
â€œIâ€™m focused on the pageant now, and if a â€˜what ifâ€™ happens, then it happens,â€ she said.
Young has advice for those seeking to enter the pageant circuit.
â€œI would tell them to start practicing in high heels as soon as possible. Wear high heels, start thinking of a platform that youâ€™re passionate about,â€ she said.
Throughout her journey, Young has had the help of her pageant coordinator, Renee Roach, and other members of the community. Young said that her presence in the community has helped raise awareness about different initiatives. She believes that her public appearances yield positive results.
â€œIt helps because if somebody sees Deanna or me theyâ€™ll say, â€˜Ooh whatâ€™s going on in hereâ€™ and maybe theyâ€™ll walk in. We help the community.â€