Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Courageous Beauty Interview: Mrs. Midwest International 2009 -Randa Allen

Angie: I was impressed when I first met Randa, but something she did left me with a lifetime memory. Back stage, I had a couple of odd moments when everything seemed to go wrong. My feet were hurting so I leaned against something to rest. It was a very large ladder. It slipped and almost took Randa out! I was so upset that I began to stress. I had no intention of causing her harm or fear prior to going on stage and I almost went down with the ladder too.

When Randa saw how shaken I was by the incident, she grabbed my hands, closed her eyes and began to pray. She just prayed strength and confidence right back into me. I'll never forget that moment of grace. Another woman might have been angry, or at least a bit scared by it. But I'll always be grateful that Randa had a giving heart and a concern for me instead.

Angie: How did you learn about various pageants?   

Randa: I first became aware of pageants as a little girl watching the Miss America pageant.  Later while in junior high I had a subscription to Teen magazine and one day saw an ad for the Miss Illinois Teen USA pageant.  I asked my Mom if I could enter and she gave me permission.  Neither of us knew what we were in for as we embarked on this journey.  

It was so much fun to spend those days with my mom planning, shopping and preparing for the competition. When I walked in to orientation and was one of 110 others competing we were both overwhelmed.  The experience was wonderful and I learned so much.   

When I placed in the Top Ten I was very surprised. I still think it was just my wide eye excitement that got me that far because I really did not know what we were getting into.  However, I was hooked. I went on and competed a few more times while in high school and also in college.  I completely believe that those early pageants offered me an opportunity to grow and develop skills that I still use today.

Angie: What titles have you held? 

Randa: My first win was Miss Marion County 1985.  I was 18 years old.  The county I lived in held a huge county fair pageant and offered scholarship money as well as the opportunity to be the county’s ambassador. I will always treasure that I held this honor.  After that I placed and held local titles that allowed me to compete twice for the title of Miss Illinois America.  I also competed in the Miss USA system. Overall I've held my fair share of placements, no crown wins, but it wasn’t until I competed in the Mrs. Pageants before I won a state title.

Winning Mrs. Illinois International 2007 was wonderful.  I had just turned 40 and was 6 months cancer free!  I entered the pageant to show that "cancer" might have brought me down but it had not beaten me. I had hoped that the title would offer me the opportunity to inspire more women to fight during their cancer and to encourage survivors to celebrate the victory over the disease.

Most recently I competed at Mrs. International and was the 4th Runner Up and learned that I was also the Judges Interview Winner.  Doing well in Interview meant the most to me.  To know that the judges heard my message and that I was recognized for communicating my thoughts well is priceless to me. It's satisfying to know I did my job which was to educate and share my passion for beating cancer beautifully! 

Angie: Tell us about your platform?

Randa: Beating Cancer Beautifully is the title of my platform. It's my way of personalizing the experiences I’ve had as first a volunteer, then a cancer patient, survivor, and advocate.  I had the unique first hand experience what it's like to have cancer.  As a volunteer I just wanted to help others. Then I became a patient and received the same help that I offered to other women.

I advocate for the American Cancer Society and primarily promote the “Look Good Feel Better” program.  This program offers women hope, courage and confidence during a time when they are fearful, feel tired, ill from treatments, and often feel hopeless.  During treatments the reflection a woman sees in the mirror often does not reflect the woman they once looked like. This takes an additional toll on a women’s attitude about her treatments.

LGFB gives women tools, education, and the emotional support to improve the physical side effects of cancer treatment and offers a makeover for the soul that I believe improves women’s chances of surviving cancer.

Angie: How did you build your platform and promote your work? 

Randa: To summarize I will say that God had a plan when he knew that I would be diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 34.  He allowed me to win the war that cancer had in my body and to share my story.  He offered me the opportunity to spread the word by doing something that He knew I truly enjoy and that is competing in pageants.  When I’m not competing my volunteering still goes on.  

Cancer left my body but it hasn’t left my life and I am staying active in my community by offering informational talks to clubs and organizations.  I remain active volunteering with LGFB and the doors of opportunities have opened into other areas of cancer awareness and promotion so I stay active serving as a volunteer for those organizations too.

Angie: Why did you decide to compete?

Randa: I was a cheerleader and I loved the thrill of competitions as a cheerleader.  The anticipation to see if our squad would win after months of preparation and sacrifice was satisfying.   Pageants provide me with that same thrill. Healthy competition is good for everyone and for me, keeps me grounded. As I have matured pageants have become more to me.  They offer me an opportunity to sharpen my skills, to meet other women that are similar to me and that have the common goal of making a difference in our communities.   

I think pageants are great for developing skills that truly transcend into our daily lives while offering us an opportunity to share, learn and improve our personal skills and abilities.

Angie: What kept you competing?

Randa: Setting a goal and working towards that goal motivates me. I feel my skills are improved and the growth I gain priceless.

Angie: Was/is competition scary? 

Randa: As I’ve grown older I have learned to take the attitude that fear is false evidence appearing real and therefore used to keep me from reaching my personal goals.  Nothing is fearful if I give it to God first.  

Angie: What did you have to learn to compete?

Randa: When I first started… everything! 
Walking, talking and presenting your ideas in a concise yet informative manner are all things one needs to do well in a pageant and over the years, and with practice, I have improved.  I feel I continue to learn and improve.

I have also needed to learn that I am complete the way I am.  Not that I can’t stand improvement but that I know more about what works best for me than I allow myself credit for.  However the most important lesson I learned is to be thankful during all times, and with all outcomes.

Angie: Tell us about what effect your titles have had:

Randa: Increase the awareness of the program “Look Good Feel Better”.  I know this to be true because I get emails and letters that say, “I never knew this program existed”.  Also the numbers of attendees and volunteers have increased in my community because of the increased attention of the media following me as I compete-which has led to me being invited to speak more often about my platform.


Please tell us about a dream, why it's been a goal, and what it means to you?

Randa: I would like to expand my part time hobby into a full time career and become a successful freelance makeup artist.  I have the education and the unbelievable desire to make this dream a reality.  The dream began when I was a teenager and I had to fight to find a way to go to cosmetology school to get my cosmetology degree since when I was teen it was discouraged.  A few years ago I put the plan in motion but allowed fear to stop me.  Fear of failure paralyzed me and I felt that maybe I wasn’t using my gifts appropriately so I stepped back, and took some time to reevaluate.  Recently new opportunities have presented themselves and I am excited each day to do something toward making my dream a reality. 

Angie: What do you still want to achieve?

Randa: I am constantly writing new short term and long term goals. I break my goals into personal, spiritual, educational and professional sections in my goal journal.  Just to share a peek at my current goals I have the following written.
This month:
*Work on achieving a more consistent way of staying fit, add AM time at gym.
*Sign up for hair extension recertification course.
*Finish decorating dining and living room before starting Christmas decorating.

Angie: What tips would you give other women wanting to enter the pageant world?

Randa: Go for it!  Do your research, ask for help, prepare yourself, and your mind~and give it your all.  You have nothing to lose and so much to gain!

Angie: The media has given Americans the idea that pageant girls/women are not intelligent and accomplished. What kind of an education do you have? 

Randa: I have both a Bachelor of Science Degrees in Education for the Hearing Impaired, and Education for Elementary Education K-12.  I have a Reading Specialist degree and am working towards my Middle School Endorsement.  I am also a trained and Licensed Cosmetologist and Makeup Artist.

Angie: Do you have other creative talents you pursue? 

Randa: I love dancing. I pursue this by coaching cheerleading and attending dancing classes at the gym. I enjoy decorating and recently bought a Cricut machine that has allowed me to add some special touches in our home.  I’m very excited about high fashion jewelry and sell a line of affordable, wearable, wardrobe- maximizing pieces that range from classic to trendy!

Angie: Is it important for a person to look their best? 

Randa: This is a personal choice but I believe “yes”.  When you look good you feel good. I believe “looking good” can be defined in many ways.  For me, feeling healthy allows me to look and feel good.

Angie: What do you hope you achieved with your titles long term?

Randa: I hope to make a positive impact in my community and in the lives of women battling cancer.  

Angie: Will you compete again?

Randa: Yes!

Angie: Would you share about your fashion favorites, flair, or a tip that makes you feel beautiful?

Randa: My tips would be to take care of your skin. For me having good skin is important. I wash all traces of makeup off every night and follow a dermatologist recommended line of products to keep my skin healthy and glowy.  I love makeup and have learned it doesn’t need to be expensive.  Therefore I invest in skincare and vitamins that feed my skin from the inside out. I stay out of the sun and wear sun screen every day.  I detoxify my body once every 6 weeks.  I exercise, sleep at least 8 hours a night and drink lots of water and green tea.

My fashion sense continues to develop as I learn more about what looks best on me. I’ve learned to expand my wardrobe by wearing statement jewelry, and presently for this time of year, love white crisp collar shirts, long fitted tops, and my favorite is of course my jeans tucked into tall boots.

Angie: What compliment do you receive most often?

Randa: I receive compliments often about the color of my eyes.

Angie: What are you most confident about?

Randa: I am confident in being a good mom and wife.  I am confident because I know my drive, ambition and passion are gifts from God, and I am most confident knowing that “For we are God’s masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10

Angie: How did you earn that sense of confidence?

Randa: My life experiences have offered me the lessons to grow, learn and be confident.

Angie: I'm so glad I had this opportunity to share Randa with you all. Please leave questions and comments.
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