Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Courageous Beauty Interview: Ms. Corporate America 2009-

Angie: In looking for confident and courageous beauties, I found out about a pageant that I had never heard of before. In fact, I found a few. This one I felt was particularly interesting because it revolved around women and their business accomplishments... and encouraging women to become accomplished business women. Enjoy!

Angie: How did you learn about pageants?

Shanta: I have never been a part of any pageant except the Ms. Corporate America Pageant. I never wanted to compete against other women when it came to beauty, because I felt like some women could really be affected by not winning the title. I learned about MCA from my hair stylist on a Saturday as I was looking through the free literature that she had displayed on the table. I wrote down the web site and looked it up when I got home.

Angie: What is your platform?

Shanta: My platform is to motivate youth to pursue their dreams. My message to inner city youth is, “your environment doesn’t have to define you; you define yourself by the choices you make.”

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

Shanta: I build my platform by constantly helping my community, and constantly staying active in what I believe in. I try to be a part of as many things as I can, so that I can continue to get my message out, and hopefully let others see that I am dedicated to the cause. I promote my work also, by just being me. I believe that if you stay true to yourself, others will see the strive in you and want to become part of what you are doing.

Angie: Why did you decide to compete?

Shanta: After competing last year, and becoming first runner up, I was really excited to know that I was so close to winning. I decided after meeting so many great people, and hearing their inspirational stories, I wanted to share my stories and inspire the women who were a part of the pageant for this year as well.

Angie: Was/is competition scary?

Shanta: Yes and no. Yes, because I was named first runner up the year before and I didn’t want to place underneath that since I had put so much into it for this year. Everyone was cheering me on and I didn’t want to disappoint anyone. The hardest part was knowing that everyone wanted me to win the title so badly, and there was only going to be one winner. 

No, because the ladies were so supportive of one another.

Angie: What personal fear did you have to overcome?

Shanta: My weight. I was very proud to be a part of the pageant for a second time, and this year I came back 15 pounds lighter, but I was still one of the biggest girls competing. It was hard to be excited about my weight loss, when everyone else was still smaller than I was.

Angie: I understand. I'd lost 35 pounds, felt the best I'd ever felt and yet I wasn't a waif. What about your first competition, were you super confident?

Shanta: Not at all, because I didn’t know what to expect. I was happy with myself, but wasn’t sure how the pageant life really was. 

Angie: What did you have to learn to compete?

Shanta: Last year there was so much I wanted to learn, but became overwhelmed about becoming a pageant girl. I ended up learning nothing and competed as Shanta Barton-Stubbs, myself. I believe that you must be true to yourself, and that I was. When I realized that I was first runner up, being myself, I made a vow to continue to be. This year I learned to be more confident in me, and to smile more. I was told the year before that I didn’t smile enough. I wish I would have learned the beauty queen wave, because I had no idea what to do when they called my name as the Ms Corporate America 2009, I just cried.

Angie: Tell us about what you have been able to do as Ms. Corporate America 2009:

Shanta: I have been able to be recognized as a more serious woman. People respect the fact that I had to compete in a pageant in order to receive the title, and now they know that I am a lot more determined now, than before. I have had the opportunity to be interviewed many times now, and even been televised because of my work. Because I was such a big part of my community before the title, I thought that there wasn’t anything else I could do to help, but I was wrong. So many more doors are now opening for me, because of my hard work and the recognition that I now receive as the first African American Ms Corporate America.

Angie: Don't you love it when surprises like that happen! Please tell us about your goal, why it's been a goal, and what it means to you?

Shanta: My goal is be able to travel to different poverty stricken neighborhoods throughout the U.S.A. and share my personal story of hardship, and pain, and the difference one person can make when they make their mind up to succeed. This has always been a goal of mine when I realize how many lives were touched in my community just by telling my story. I know there are so many others in this world who just need to hear one message of hope, faith, and determination. I know that I have that message, and it means a lot to me for me to have a voice that needs to be heard. 

I am so humbled by all of the great things that have happened to me because of my hardships, and believe someone out there can become the person they desire to be although in their situation, it may not seem that they can achieve their goal. Being born to a teen mother and a father who was very violent towards my mother led me to believe that my hopes of becoming an actress were only dreams. I always wanted to give speeches, and encouraging words to others. But I was the one who really needed all of the encouragement. I want to encourage the ones who feel lost, hopeless, and feel like giving up.

Angie: What do you still want to achieve?

Shanta: I have hopes of receiving a doctoral degree. I just completed my Masters so I can see me getting closer to my dreams.

Angie: There's an idea in society that pageants are just skin deep. How would you answer that?

Shanta: The MCA Pageant recognizes the value of women in corporate America who can present themselves well. But we are much more than a pageant about only beauty. Women today are successful in every area of the corporate world. We are leaders in every field, and we are making a difference to help others along the way. This pageant is all about celebrating and encouraging the best of American women, and there is enough success, including beauty - for all of us.

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?

Shanta: I have a Bachelor degree in Criminal Justice, and a Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. I currently have a not for profit organization that services at risk youth, with tutoring, self esteem building, pregnancy prevention , counseling and extra curricular activities. New Image Youth Center has been established for 5 years. I am also currently a mental health counselor.

Angie: Do you have other creative talents you pursue?

Shanta: Writing.

Angie: Do you think it is important for a person to look their best?

Shanta: Yes. I think it is important for a person to look their best according to what their best is. My everyday best includes jeans, a nice t shirt, tennis shoes, and my hair swept up in a nice ponytail. If a person has a problem with a beauty queen looking casual every day, how can I help others if they feel like I can’t relate to their situations.

Angie: What do you hope to achieve with your title long term? 

Shanta: I hope I can achieve the feeling of knowing that I made a difference in a big way. I want to know that this title has helped me change many lives for years to come.

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

Shanta: What makes me feel beautiful is knowing that my hair is done. I feel like if my hair is done, than everything else will fall in to place.

Angie: What are your plans after your title ends?

Shanta: To continue my mission as Ms. Corporate America 2009 as an activist insiring other women to be comfortable with themselves, and take themselves out of the box, and step out and act on the dreams that they have imagined for years.

Angie: What compliment do you receive most often?

Shanta: That I am so down to earth.

Angie: What are you most confident about?

Shanta: My drive to succeed. I feel like my life reflects who I am, my accomplishments before reaching 30 years old, shows that I am destined to make it, and won’t take no for an answer.

Angie: How did you earn that sense of confidence?

Shanta: By going through my own hardships, and realizing that someone will always have something negative to say, even if they don’t mean it. I have earned my confidence by being proud of myself, in everything that I do and not getting comfortable with any accomplishment.

Angie: What would you like to share?

Shanta: Life is what we make it. I truly believe that so many times we give up on our dreams because they seem impossible to reach, but in all reality if we reach out, little things will began to come together. Napoleon Hill said it so perfectly when he said “Do not wait; the time will never be "just right'. Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along”. 

I encourage everyone to launch out and walk into your destiny. The time is here, and the time is now! My beginning started off very rocky and very unpromising to me, but I kept that thought in my mind, that I wanted to make a difference and I wanted to change lives. It’s amazing for me to see that my determination is really getting me where I wanted to go. I never knew how a young girl such as me was ever going to make it out of poverty, and into the corporate arena, but it happened, because I dared to be different. Instead of going out with friends, I was in my books, instead of repeating the cycle of my own mother and becoming a teen mother, I helped care for at risk youth, as though they were my own. Instead of giving up, I would cry out my hurt, and began to make a plan that I was determined to stick to. Now I extend the same faith to you. Be encouraged and know that your current situation does not have to define you.


Angie: Thank you so much, Shanta :-)
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