CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., July 10, 2015 – Southeast Missouri State University junior Crystal Davis of Anna, Illinois, was crowned Miss Illinois 2015 last month at the Marion Cultural and Civic Center and will now compete in the Miss America pageant in September.
Davis, a public relations major, won Miss Southern Illinois this year to qualify for the Miss Illinois pageant.
Davis said she’s always been interested in pageants. She remembers when she was younger and her mother would want to take her to them. Davis said she had a distant cousin compete in the Miss America pageant as Miss Illinois when she was younger and “that really set a spark.”
Davis competed in her first pageant when she was 13 and her first “miss” pageant when she was 17. She started with local pageants and won Miss Union County Fair Queen before competing in state preliminary pageants.
“I’ve gained so much confidence through pageantry. It’s really brought me out of my shell,” Davis said.
As Miss Illinois, Davis says she wants to use her time to make a difference with as many speaking appearances and performances as possible in the upcoming year. She says she thrives on the joy that can be brought to others, and service isn’t about hours or reputation but about being genuine.
“[Pageantry] has taught me to be a service leader,” Davis said.
Her platform is called Crystal Clear: Eyes on the Road Ahead. Davis was in a distracted driving accident about six years ago, and she wants to make people aware of the dangers.
“People don’t realize that distracted driving isn’t just being on your phone,” she said.
Davis focuses on raising money for Children’s Miracle Network. She hosted a black tie gala that raised $3,400 for the organization. Over the last three years, she has raised $7,800 for the organization, and since she was crowned Miss Illinois, she has raised another $10,000 for the charity. Her goal is to raise an additional $12,000 this year. After visiting children at Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, she said she realized the true need and importance of raising these funds.
“One part I really like [about pageantry], is that it’s a sisterhood. It’s not just everyone for themselves,” Davis said.
She said there was a time during the Miss Illinois pageant where she just felt the night wasn’t going to go well, so one of her best friends she met through the competition prayed with her backstage. She says it was nice having support from other girls because it gets emotional that week when everyone is away from their family and competing.
Davis says participating in pageantry has given her the opportunity to meet a lot of people with different skill sets. They are able to help each other, and it has offered wonderful networking opportunities, she says.
The Miss America Organization is one of the world’s largest providers of scholarships for young women. Scholarships can be won at local, state and national levels and go directly to winners’ schools to cover tuition expenses. Davis has earned at least $14,000 in scholarships and said one day she would like to be a public relations representative for a large business after she graduates.
The Miss America finals will be televised live on ABC Sept. 13.