That’s right — Enumclaw is competing in Miss U.S.A.
“I was in it to win it,” Hill said, though she knew the odds were stacked against her. At 19, Hill was one of the youngest competitors this year, meaning she was up against women who have half a dozen years of experience competing for the Miss Washington crown. “I was ready to place well, but I had no idea I was going to win. … Still now, I can’t put it into words, the feeling of accomplishment and shock I was in.”
Winning the state title took not months, but years of work, since she started pageantry work when she was 9 years old.
“I’ve had many losses, but those empowered me to continue and to get to the point where I am now, which drove me to winning this year,” Hill said, adding that her mother was also a title holder and was an inspiration to her. “I’ve always said, ‘I want to do that. I want to make your dream my dream as well.’”
Hill said her passion for promoting the Miss USA organization as a way for women to be empowering and change the world and her drive to win helped her take the title, but she gave most of her credit to her platform, a social issue contestants work to start a program and raise awareness or funds for.
Hill’s platform is #W82TXT (Wait to Text, for those who don’t speak internet), and encourages people to not drive while texting.
She created the platform after two of her cousins were killed three years ago in a car crash where the other driver was distracted by their phone.
“I took my pain and my heartbreak and turned it into a platform, hoping I can help change the statistics,” Hill said.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has said eight people die every day because of distracted driving.
Hill has gathered 1,000 signatures pledging to stop texting and driving since she launched this platform.
As a reminder, her pledge signers wear a red rubber ring around their thumb, reminding them to wait to text.
Hill will continue working on her platform through the Miss U.S.A. competition, which is typically held around April or May, though the exact date and location have yet to be determined.
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For Hill, her 10 years of pageantry has been more than just looking good on stage and being able to speak eloquently to a panel of judges — it’s about being an empowered woman, empowering other women and making a change in the world.
One of the biggest lessons she’s learned over the last decade is that she has the ability to make a positive difference in the world, whether she’s trying to get people to stay off their phones while behind the wheel or encouraging other women to compete in pageants.
“Being a symbol to young women, that things can be better, and I can be their voice — learning that is what’s been most rewarding and most humbling,” she said.
The pageant community is full of women who want to help other people do their best, Hill continued, recalling previous title holders returning multiple times to psych competitors up and help them out.
She herself will be traveling to the Miss California competition soon to support her future fellow title holder and runner-ups.
“It’s really humbling to have so many people behind you, and wanting you to help change the world,” Hill said. “That’s what we are in the pageant world — title holders are symbols of hope, change and positivity.”
Title holders are also big volunteers in their local communities. Hill’s eight months as Miss Enumclaw, when she was granted the title February 2017 after a lengthy application process, was spent developing and advertising her platform while volunteering around the state.
One of her favorite volunteer opportunities while she was Miss Enumclaw was chaperoning an elementary schooler while they shopped for necessary school supplies.
And now that she’s Miss Washington, her community service obligations will only grow.
“It really is a job,” Hill said. “I’ve only had the title for little over 24 hours, and I’ve made my first appearance, taken care of my paperwork, booked appearances throughout the entire month. It’s a really time-consuming thing.”