Amber Taylor is heading to the National American Miss Pageant in Anaheim, Calif. She received a commendation from Mayor Joseph Peterson and the City Council on Aug. 30.
By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
WYANDOTTE – Amber Taylor will put her best face forward for her hometown and Michigan as she competes in the National American Miss Pageant Nov. 23 to 28, in Anaheim, Calif.
The Roosevelt High School senior was crowned state cover girl at the Aug. 23 Michigan NAM pageant in Troy and now will compete for the title of National All-American Miss. At the same time Victoria Mangham will represent Michigan as state queen for the National American Miss title at a concurrent competition.
Taylor augments her competitive spirit by putting in many hours volunteering through her school’s Key Club, including working with Special Olympians. Upon receipt of a commendation from Mayor Joseph Peterson and the City Council on Aug. 30, she said she plans to continue her volunteer work.
“I have many responsibilities that come with this title,” Taylor told the council and the audience of her state honor. Among them are volunteering “many hours over the next year” with the cancer fundraiser Relay for Life and the Michigan Humane Society, as well as at many other community events.
A member of her school’s Students Against Drunk Driving chapter as well as DECA, an international career and technical student organization, Taylor competed in the latter group’s regional challenge in Tennessee last year. She also ran track for her high school team the past three years, specializing in long distance, but couldn’t fit it into her busy schedule this year.
To earn her way to the national pageant competition, she clears tables and works as a hostess at Smokies Restaurant & Lounge, 930 Biddle in Wyandotte, and has done so for the past year. Her employer will host a fundraiser from 4 to 8 p.m. Sept. 18 to help cover the cost of her national competition airfare and hotel expenses.
A portion of that night’s sales will be donated to Taylor. Her mother and a friend will bartend that night and donate their tips as well.
Taylor hopes to qualify for college scholarship funding at the national competition. She anticipates that wearing the crown will impart valuable life skills as well.
“This pageant emphasizes the importance of gaining self-confidence, learning new skills and achieving personal goals,” Taylor said. “These are skills that I will use throughout my life.”
She hopes to attend the University of Toledo to study nursing. Currently, she attends a two-hour Health Careers class at Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital from noon to 2 p.m. each school day. One hour is spent in the classroom, the next helping patients and learning procedures.
“You sit in the class for an hour, take tests, take notes or whatever, and then you go around the hospital with a teacher and she shows you what to do,” Taylor said. “She shows you how the procedures are done, and then you help the patient; you read to them, you sit there …”
Wyandotte, Southgate and Riverview high school juniors and seniors may apply for the program. Student science grades, overall grade point average and attendance record all are considered for admission.
“It helps you because the first year you learn all the medical terms, and that’s what helped me because I’m going into nursing,” Taylor said. “It will give me a head start in college. That’s why I’m taking the class. Some people take it just because you get to leave (school) after fourth hour.”
She describes herself as a fun person who’s not afraid to be true to herself and enjoys music, singing along with her iPod or in the shower, and hanging out with friends.
“I’m myself all the time no matter who I’m around. I mean, at first I’m going to be shy, but eventually I’ll be myself,” Taylor said. “I try to do my best at everything, and I try to do everything I can for someone.”
She said her experiences at local NAM pageants the past three years have helped build her self-confidence and have prepared her for future job interviews. She also believes people misunderstand why girls like her enter pageants.
“It’s not really to go there to win,” Taylor said. “It’s not competitive like that. It’s to go there to have fun.”
She enjoys the emotional support of her extended family, which includes a brother, sister, two half sisters, and two sets of steptwins.
“Pageants are a lot of fun, even if I don’t win,” Taylor said. “I still do good, and all my family is there for me no matter what.”
For more information about the fundraiser, or to place an advertisement to support her in the national pageant program booklet, call Billie Jo Taylor at (734) 934-0552. For reservations or additional fundraiser information call Smokies at (734) 283-3228.