Growing through Pageantry & Creating Camp INSPIRE

Presly Pedigo, USA National Miss 2023

My name is Presly Pedigo, and I am your reigning 2023 USA National Miss. When beginning pageantry at aged fifteen, I was very shy and self-conscious. I was the girl who was scared to walk to the front of my classroom to turn in an assignment or even give a presentation in homeroom. Those things and more terrified me, but with stepping out of my comfort zone and exploring the world of pageantry came a whole newfound sense of self. I am now twenty-two, and even though I have competed for roughly the past seven years, my life is far from perfect. Through social media highlight reels and the common misconception that a pageant girl can face no hardships, I had many people fooled.

There were many times I faced self-doubt, anxiety, comparison, and a low-self-esteem. After a toxic and unhealthy relationship, I struggled with my self-confidence. It was through pageantry that I was reminded how beautiful life can be when we celebrate each other and push one another to new heights. My first year competing with USA National Miss I was met with a positive and uplifting space filled with women who reminded me why I was drawn to pageants in the first place. I never gave up on this dream and was crowned on my third attempt vying for the title.

My pageant journey faced many moments of stress, worry, and putting too much pressure on myself. I learned in the past few years that the pressure we subject ourselves to does not serve us. I made a change this past year; I spent time prioritizing happiness. Whether if it was through my family, friends, fitness, or even a self-care day, I made sure to reserve space for the things that make me who I am. Throughout my own journey, I began to truly understand the importance of mental health and its impact on one’s overall well-being.

Making an impact gives me a sense of purpose. When it comes to mental health, of course there are still moments that are not perfect- but that’s life. A common belief is that loving oneself can make it easier to give love and pour into others. In my experience, however, it was pouring into those around me that enabled me to love myself. Connecting with people and making a difference expanded my capacity to support and uplift others. It was through these connections that I identified a need for empowerment in today’s youth.

This motivated to create my service initiative program: Camp Inspire.

Camp Inspire is a day camp for kids which helps them find their passions through volunteerism. By exploring the three UNM Inspire pillars of service through compassion, kindness, and earth, kids can unlock how they can make a difference in their community. Camp Inspire doesn’t just focus on community service; it has opportunities for confidence development. Through mentorship roles and leadership activities, kids learn that no matter your age you can be a change maker. Giving our youth the tools to make a difference at such a young age is pivotal for their leadership development down the line.

Just like the kids that attend Camp Inspire, you are capable of so much more than you realize! Even through times of hardship, acknowledge that your worth is greater than you will ever know. Regardless of how things appear on the outside, you never know what someone is going through. Everyone’s mental health journey will look vastly different, so always treat one another with kindness and understanding. Your impact can tremendously multiply when you focus on radiating happiness within and all around!

Thank you Presly for sharing about your own journey with mental health. It is so awesome that you have been able to use your self-growth to create Camp INSPIRE and give back to the kids that participate. You truly INSPIRE those around you in endless ways!

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