Valley High School Graduate Follows Her Pageant Dreams and Serves as an Ambassador
DUBLIN, CA–Amid all of the events that occurred last December, a rather innocuous contest gained immediate and worldwide attention. The event was the annual Miss Universe competition. This televised program gained instant notoriety when host Steve Harvey incorrectly awarded the crown to Miss Columbia. The mantle was then correctly presented to Miss Philippines and the aftermath was internet history.
Online, the reaction was swift and many surmised that this was a calculated attempt by the organizers to bring attention to this telecast. For at least the next couple of weeks, the subject was trending highly and it sparked much discussion about the veracity of these endeavors. While this temporary firestorm eventually died down, it also gave us an opportunity to explore the experiences of a recent Valley High School graduate. Counselor Liz Buckley introduced OneDublin.org to Ms. Aliyah Martin last fall. Aliyah attained her diploma from VHS in June 2015 and is now a student at Diablo Valley College where she is continuing her studies in Early Childhood Education/Development. She hopes to someday become a teacher.
What separates Ms. Martin from her colleagues is that she is actually competed in pageants. The initial inspiration came from a friend that had previously participated and a simply flyer in the mail encouraged Aliyah to ultimately take the leap. Subsequently, she entered into her first National American Miss Pageant in San Jose in 2014.
But for those that are unfamiliar to this arena, why would a young woman want to enter into this type of competition? According to Aliyah, “Sure, it’s fun to experience the glitz and glamour. More importantly, it is about having a voice and to believe in myself. It also embraces having beauty that is both inside and out.” To gain a deeper understanding of the pageant world, OneDublin.org gained the opportunity to sit down with Ms. Martin to discuss her experiences and aspirations.
OneDublin.org: You had the benefit of being introduced to the pageant environment through another friend. For those that are not familiar, please share what this experience is all about.
Aliyah Martin: “I would say that having the privilege to be introduced to pageants has been one of my greatest treasures. If you would ask someone randomly off the street, “What do you know about pageants and what is your opinion?” They would probably detest by saying something like “Unintelligent women prancing around on stage in gowns with a face loaded with make-up. I would say that this is false. We are a community of women who choose to get up on that stage and to be judged for all of the right reasons. Because, we don’t just want to make a difference within our communities, but to also impact and change lives through our platforms. But, if given the chance, what girl wouldn’t want to try on a few dresses and get dolled up?”
OneDublin.org: Help our readers to understand what activities and costs are associated to fully participate in a pageant.
Martin: “Many girls often look for not only the emotional support of our family, friends and communities, but also financially. Regardless of the support that we receive, we are truly grateful to have people that believe in us and are happy to see us follow our dreams! Typically, the items that a contestant needs include an evening gown, travel fees, hair/makeup, shoes, jewelry, a production number outfit and an interview suit.”
OneDublin.org: Please articulate why and how the “process” of participating in these competitions makes you stronger. As an entrant, what are your personally responsible for?
Martin: “As much fun as pageants can be there is a great amount of preparation. Sitting amongst the crowd and watching the crowning moment of a young lady, most people see an instant win. But, what they don’t really understand is the hours that were put into getting the perfect evening gown walk. Or, the many mock interviews that she’s done to be quick on her feet. I would say that as soon as you know that you want to compete is the best time to starting practicing – even before you register.”
OneDublin.org: You have experienced multiple surgeries to address your cleft lip. And, you will have a final Rhinoplasty procedure scheduled in the fall. Please share some details from this journey and what it has meant to you.
Martin: “Growing up with a cleft lip along with the many surgeries has not always been a walk in the park. Through my situation, I have learned to value myself not only on the outside, but also from the inside out. Beside everyday life comparisons, pageantry has given me the opportunity to exercise this mind set as well. Everyone says that confidence is the key. That’s true, but the whole truth in knowing that understanding your self worth will make you happy. Getting to share my story with other people through pageantry really allows people to see that beauty doesn’t just look or classify into one category. But, true beauty comes in many colors, shapes and sizes.”
OneDublin.org.com: Anything else that you would like to add?
Martin: “Although I am competing against different contestants, we all share a sisterhood and bond. It is because of the passion that we have to positively change our nation. We have the same outlook on life – no matter the situation or circumstances held against us. We believe that we can overcome and we are human – just like anyone else. The biggest request we have is to never have the perception that we are perfect. We share the same mistakes as anyone else would have and are still learning our path in life.”
We found this to be a fascinating peek into the pageantry world. We also found great comfort and confidence in gaining this insight from a student that has matriculated up through the Dublin Unified School District. As a postscript, we asked Ms. Martin if she wanted to add a final anecdote – particularly to any young students that are even curious about this arena. Aliyah shared that over the recent holidays, she had the opportunity to view the current version of “Cinderella” in the theater. What struck her was the message from the title character’s mother to “Have courage and to be kind.” This is what presently guides her and it is her wish for other young people.