Charnae Payne competed in the Miss Teen of America national pageant late in November and returned home having had the experience of a lifetime.
“I had a great time,” Payne said. “It was kind of like regionals just double the girls. We had four roommates and each day it was something different.”
The regional competition was her first foray into pageantry.
The national competition, which featured 35 girls and not all 50 states, was held at the Mall of America in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
“It was a great experience meeting different girls from all over the country,” Payne said. “You have to learn how to handle different personalities tactfully. My roommates were great.”
Payne got to wear a gown and walk across the stage in front of the judges, who were looking for poise and elegance along with personality.
She also took part in various other activities during her stay in Minneapolis including an inclusion event with the Special Olympics, bowling, and a group performance the night of the finals.
“They’re such nice kids,” Payne said. “They just want to be treated like everyone else. The Special Olympics organization doesn’t want the kids to feel out of place.”
Payne lived with a group of girls whom she had never met before and enjoyed the experience.
“You need to be open minded,” Payne said. “Don’t just focus on yourself all the time. It’s more than that.”
“We’re all a big part in this to help the organization run. Don’t think about just winning. Think about what you want to get out of the experience other than winning.”
Payne did not finish in the top 10, but came home with a new understanding of others and some preparation for college.
“Getting to know new people and get outside of my comfort zone,” Payne said of what she’ll remember most. “It was a new experience and I’m grateful to have it. It will be something I will remember my entire life. I learned not to always be in my little bubble.”
Interviews were done one-on-one on the first day everyone was in Minneapolis and Payne said the judges asked some tough questions.
“The toughest question was when they asked us about two people past or present we would bring back,” Payne explained. “A lot of people talked about family. Sometimes it’s bigger than family. There’s other public figures you can bring back to help the nation as a whole. I thought that was a difficult question.”
Payne is thankful for the interview portion of the competition because it gives her experience for future college interviews.
“Being able to speak and get my point across in what I want to say is important,” Payne said. “The questions the judges asked were good. Some were difficult. The interview will definitely help me when doing college interviews.”
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