The Third Annual Miss Unlimited Pageant was held May 7th at Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory’s Sister Caroline Collins theater. There were a total of 28 participants, with thirteen alumni and fifteen new participants, according to Michelle Wynn, the pageant’s founder and director.
One of the highlights of the show was the participation of A.P. Giannini para educator, Mr. Matt, who danced and sang with three of his students.
Since one of the goals of the pageant is to recognize the beauty inside ourselves, I asked Mr. Matt what he thought: “I am beautiful, thanks to the people I surround myself with, especially the students I work with every day,” Mr. Matt continues, “Working with hard-working kids who don’t give up and find the humor and beauty in everyday life teaches me to see the work in a brighter way.” Mr. Matt’s wife, Amanda Barnett, Moderate / Severe Inclusion Teacher at A.P. Giannini Middle School, San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD), also volunteered at this event.
“I am beautiful because I am not afraid to speak up. I speak up for those who don’t have a voice and amplify the voices that are not always heard.” When asked what she took from her experience at the pageant, Barnett said “I learned how amazing our community is. The support and participation from St. Ignatius College Preparatory (the SI), local media, SFUSD, and the volunteers from around the Bay Area was incredible. All girls deserve the opportunity to be celebrated and empowered for who they are.”
One of the student founders, Katrina Keating, from Saint Ignatius, where director Michelle Wynn teaches said, “Miss Unlimited taught me the value of teamwork and showed me that a small group of dedicated people can make a difference if they work hard and, as Miss Wynn says, “never take no for an answer.” What I learned from Miss Unlimited has helped me grow in confidence, and this will help me in college.” Keating will be attending Dartmouth College in New Hampshire in the fall.
Hart Ayoob, another student volunteer from Saint Ignatius, added “Miss Unlimited helped me recognize the aspects of myself that make me beautiful. I have struggled with my self-identity and often doubt myself and my abilities. Miss Unlimited taught me self-love and self-acceptance, something that I really lacked before the pageant. I would not be in the position I am in today if it weren’t for the pageant. By teaching me about my true special qualities, I developed more confidence as a result of my involvement with the pageant. My experience with Miss Unlimited was invaluable to my positive self-identity, ultimately putting me in a position to succeed in the College Application process,” Ayoob said, who will be attending Boston College in the fall.
“The pageant showed that despite disabilities or differences, we all are humans with human needs. Among these is the need to be respected and recognized. For a community that is often overlooked, it is very important that we take the time to celebrate each person’s unique and special qualities,” said Ayoob.
Peter Finch was this year’s show host. He wanted to volunteer with this pageant because he has a 27-year-old son who has autism. “I am beautiful because I am a good husband and a good father to my two (now adult) children,” Finch said.
Mandella Cesena, a student at Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory, volunteered at this year’s pageant for the first time. “I learned how grateful these girls were to have somewhere dedicated to making them feel as beautiful as they are. I saw so many girls smiling so big and their parents were just as grateful and happy to be there,” Mandella said. “I could hear the laughter, claps, and cheers through several doors and it was just one of many indications that everyone thoroughly enjoyed the pageant.” She looks forward to coming back as a volunteer for this pageant in 2017.
Now, think about why are you beautiful.