The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Blue jean beauty queen

City College student Claire Johnston is a scholar, humanitarian, athlete, missionary worker and a recent chosen contestant of the Miss California USA 2012 beauty pageant. Photo by ||Nagah Morris|| [email protected]

Beauty pageants can be viewed as superficial, self-promoting and vain to some or entertaining, esteem building and classy to others. City College student Claire Johnston didn’t give the issue much thought until she was given the opportunity to compete for Miss California USA 2012. Now Johnston finds she is focusing on the impact she can make while she assimilates herself to pageant life.

Johnston considers herself to be many things — a scholar, athlete, humanitarian and missionary — but until she was offered the title of Miss Greater Sacramento, she never considered herself beauty pageant material. In fact the opportunity took her by surprise.

“I never saw this as something I would ever be a part of,” said Johnston. “But it really does fit my strengths and personality.”

While waiting in line at a coffee shop, Johnston made small talk with another woman in the line. She told the woman about a recent trip she took to Mozambique, Africa, where Johnston spent the summer volunteering with Iris Ministries, a Christian missionary organization. What she thought was a casual conversation turned into an unexpected opportunity when the woman told Johnston she was a representative from the Donald Trump Miss USA pageant and thought Johnston would be a good candidate.

Miss Johnston caring for baby Mildo while visting Mozambique, Africa. Photo Courtesy of || Kasey Eckert ||

“It was a very brief conversation,” Johnston said. “I just passed along my number having no expectations [of] a phone call. I’ve never competed in something like this before, so I didn’t expect them to be interested in me.”

Now as she grows into the role of Miss Greater Sacramento Valley, Johnston said she is learning that pageant life isn’t exactly what she thought it would be.

“I see tremendous opportunities to step out in my strengths,” said Johnston. “I love speaking at different events throughout Sacramento. I’d have to say my favorite part about running for Miss California is my ability to influence young women positively.”

Born and raised in Sacramento, Johnston is working on a double major in psychology and communications. She is founder and leader of a City College Christian ministry group called Chi Alpha, volunteers with Big Brothers and Little Sisters,
leads a Bible study group, and also sings and plays guitar on the worship team at her church.

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“It really did something to my heart,” said Johnston.

While doing missionary work in Africa, Johnston met a woman in Mozambique who helped her become a Miss California contestant. Photo by ||Nagah Morris|| [email protected]

“The prerequisite to compete was to have a community service background,” explains Johnston. “During my orientation they explained that in order to be Miss California USA you needed to be well-rounded, diverse, accepting, intelligent and beautiful inside and out.”

Now Johnston hopes to encourage young women to see beauty with a similar mind-set.

“My hope is to inspire girls to take risks they never thought they could have,” Johnston said. “Beauty is being everything you can be and not being afraid to step out.”

Johnston said that her recent trip to Africa led her to the epiphany that life is not defined by what you are but by who you help. As she reached out to orphans, worked in hospitals, prisons, and remote villages, she saw firsthand the impact one person could make.

“I’ve traveled all over and been to places like India for three months at a time but I fell in love with Africa,”

With her first red carpet event coming up March 25 in Los Angeles, Johnston said she understands the negative stereotypes some people have when it comes to pageants and beauty contests. She acknowledges that to a lot of women, pageants represent a superficial outward beauty and that many women are disappointed with society’s insistence on putting on a pedestal those who we deem as having exceptional outer beauty. But, Johnston said, if you take the right approach, you can avoid falling victim to these stereotypes.

“I believe it’s important for a person to know who they are before going into something like this and stay true to themselves.”

Click here to view her facebook.

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