Raina Jo West
Miss Purchase District
Picture this: a chubby cheeked, eight year old version of me, at my very first pageant. I’d practiced and rehearsed weeks in advance. I knew I was ready. It was my time to go on stage and introduce myself, when all of a sudden, I forgot everything. I even forgot my own name. That night I left the pageant with a feeling of disappointment and discouragement, but I knew this wasn’t it for me.
Flash forward to me now. 18 years old, holding the title of Miss Purchase District. My very first pageant seemed like just a small fragment of every memory I’ve made doing pageants. I was now vying for the title of Miss Jr. Teen Kentucky United States. The crowd was big, the lights were bright. I’d done this so many times now, it felt normal and even exciting. It was now time to introduce myself again, I started off fine. I was doing great and all of a sudden, I stopped. I flashed back to that eight year old me in her big pink dress, terrified of the audience, and the feeling was just the same. Even though so much has changed, a couple things remain the same: I still mess up, and in that moment I realized I am not perfect and nobody is ever going to be perfect.
After the pageant I left feeling grateful, yet still disappointed in myself. With tear filled eyes, I told my mom that I thought I was past this: getting on stage and spacing out. She replied by saying that this was just a bump in the road and that I am going to be able to use these experiences to help others in the future. I replied to her by saying, “this is the turning point in my story.”
Enters my platform: I am getting involved with the Children’s Miracle Network and the National Education Association (NEA) for Read Across America. I am currently working on a series of books about my personal experiences as a NICU baby, overcoming stage fright, and many other obstacles that I have faced. I want to take those books to the NICU to talk to the parents about their situation. I will tell them how the doctors had put a lot of limitations on my brothers and I but God made sure we overcame them. I will also go to elementary schools to read and talk to students about public speaking and the importance of it. I am going to share my personal experiences with them, and show them that anything in this life is achievable.