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What Kind of Girls Win at NAM?

21, November 2017

NAM Titleholders Photo: NAM Instagram NAM Titleholders Photo: NAM Instagram

It is the fourth week in November and most of the planet’s thoughts have turned to the upcoming gathering that we have been looking forward to all year long when we get to reconnect with our friends and family and have lots of fun. No, I am not talking about that holiday gathering where we stuff ourselves with turkey and mashed potatoes and eat way too many helpings of pie. (Read: 10 Ways to Crush Cravings While On A Pageant Diet)

I am referring to NAM nationals! NAM (or National American Miss, as it is officially called) is like no other pageant, in that it offers so many titles and opportunities to so many different girls of all ages. It celebrates and honors the unique individuality found in the girls of America. The Official National Pageant Guidebook states, “Our program is centered around helping young ladies grow and expand their ideas about who they are and what they would like to achieve. We want every girl to realize that she is worth it, that she truly can take hold of her dreams and make them a reality!” (Read: What to Pack for NAM Nationals)

Jeremy Monlux Photo: Monlux Consulting

Jeremy Monlux. Photo: Monlux Consulting

Words of wisdom from a NAM coach

Jeremy Monlux is one of the most highly respected and well-known coaches in the Northwest, and if you are searching for someone who knows NAM, then he is your guy. He is also the president of Monlux Consulting in Portland, Oregon. “I work with young people in every age division from across the United States who represent years of experience as well as never having stepped foot on the NAM stage," Jeremy said. "My journey as an interview coach has and continues to be the best job on the planet.”

But, Jeremy is not only a NAM coach. He coaches all ages and all systems and is known for his personal attention and investment in his clients. What makes Jeremy such a special NAM coach, however, is that he is not only a coach, but he has the unique point of view of being a pageant parent. “My involvement with NAM started as a Dad as I watched my daughter Madeline literally grow up with this system for the past 10 years," Jeremy said. "While she was honored to be a state and national titleholder, it is the skills she learned along the way that truly has made the biggest impact.”

Emily Ortiz 2016-2017 National American Miss Junior Pre Teen Photo: NAM Website

Emily Ortiz 2016-2017 National American Miss Junior Pre Teen. Photo: NAM Website

A winning three-point strategy

When I asked Jeremy what kind of girls win at NAM, he echoed the same things that every coach and judge who is familiar with NAM has told me. Being a NAM girl is about being exactly who you are and celebrating your originality so that you can be relatable to others. It means that you understand what you have to offer as a titleholder, and you have a plan in place that you can communicate clearly. Jeremy said that his clients have mastered a winning three-point strategy.

“In order to do well in this system, I recommend three foundational points," Jeremy said. "First, you must absolutely know who you are as a person and feel confident in being YOU. Secondly, you have to know why you are there in the pageant. Do you really want to win? Do you want to make friends? Or, are you just wanting to try something new? And, thirdly, my clients all know what they are going to do with their title should they win. This is a giant opportunity, so spend some time collecting your ideas on what you as a titleholder can accomplish during your year." He went on to say, “For the interview competition, it is important to remember that every judge wants you to succeed and they are there to get to know you. I cannot stress enough to just be yourself and to speak your truth. Judges are impressed the most by people who showcase authenticity.”

Emily Ortiz, 2016-2017 National American Miss Junior PreTeen

One of Jeremy’s clients who won over the judges last year with her confident authenticity is Emily Ortiz, the reigning 2016-2017 National American Miss Junior PreTeen. Emily is a vivacious competitive dancer, actor and model who enjoys exploring the arts. She may only be 10 years old, but she already knows that her future aspirations include adding cardiovascular surgeon to her resume! (Read: How High is Too High for Preteen Contestant Heels?)

Emily's platform is all about spreading kindness and helping fight child hunger. In the past few years, she has worked with organizations like Saint Vincent De Paul, where she created care packages for their homeless shelters. She also volunteers with a Christian non-profit called Feed My Starving Children in its packaging centers. Emily makes volunteering for these causes her priority because she believes that no person, especially a child, should ever go hungry. Her confidence and communication skills have increased significantly because of National American Miss and she says that she also loves the sisterhood and friendships that she has developed and will continue to have for the rest of her life. She seems wise beyond her years as she talks about the best way to approach the national competition. "The best advice I can give anyone attending nationals is not to forget what got you there! Do NOT be afraid to be yourself. You are perfect just the way you are! And remember don't forget to practice and just have fun!" (Read: Your Ultimate Guide to NAM Optional Contests)

Emily Ortiz 2016-2017 National American Miss Junior Pre Teen Photo: NAM Website Emily Ortiz 2016-2017 National American Miss Junior PreTeen. Photo: NAM Website

Hailey Sturgill, 2017 National American Miss Washington

Another one of Jeremy’s clients that seems to embody all of the qualities that NAM stands for is Hailey Sturgill, 2017 National American Miss Washington. Hailey is already bound for nationals, but I got a chance to chat with her before she left. In the brief time that I spoke with her, I found her a vibrant and remarkable young woman who is full of vision and thrives serving in her community. Although she just turned 20 last summer, she will be graduating this spring from the University of Portland with a Bachelor's of Business Administration in finance and a minor in communications, and quite possibly a minor in economics! She is also the captain of her university’s dance team for the second year in a row. She agrees with Jeremy’s convictions that confidence and being true to yourself are the keys to being successful at NAM. “Currently I am preparing a minimum of four hours a week between practicing for interview, speeches, talent, stage presence and more. Although practicing is important, the key to success is building up your confidence and your sense of yourself. All the practice in the world can make you good, but without that extra edge of confidence it won’t make you a winner.” (Read: 233 Practice Pageant Questions)

When she is not preparing for her pageant, attending to her studies, or practicing and performing with her dance team, she is volunteering! To say that Hailey is a busy young lady is an understatement. "As someone who has a busy schedule you have to do what you can when you can," said the personable, down-to-earth blonde beauty. "Over the past five years, I have developed a powerful platform called, “Those In Need” dedicated to helping the homeless and disadvantaged people of the Seattle and Portland area. My passion came from experiencing my own family’s personal adversities. My involvement with this platform started with just an idea that has now skyrocketed to over 5,000 hours of volunteering.”

Hailey Sturgill 2017 National American Miss Washington Photo: Kathy Whittaker Photography Hailey Sturgill 2017 National American Miss Washington. Photo: Kathy Whittaker Photography

A search and rescue mission

What Hailey Sturgill actually spends her time doing when she is helping those in need shocks everyone. Even though she loves wearing her sash and promoting National American Miss in the traditional ways of attending events and networking with people, her favorite part of her job as a NAM spokesperson is far less glamorous. (Read: 10 Reasons Why Pageants Promote Girl Power)

In fact, if you came across her late at night in the depths of downtown Seattle, dressed in sweats, wearing no makeup and with her hair in a ponytail, you would think that she was the last girl on earth to be involved in beauty pageants. But, even then, as she weaves through the darkened streets along with her search and rescue team members, and the light within her refuses to be dimmed. “The most recent and impactful work I am doing is with the Seattle Union Gospel Mission search and rescue team. UGM takes teams of people out to find the street people of Seattle so that we can provide support, supplies, meals and clothes." “Although the work that I do can be dangerous, I feel that it's my job because the homeless population in the Seattle area is the third worst in the country. I feel so blessed to have the ability to give back! After all, that is what NAM is all about!”

Hailey Sturgill 2017 National American Miss Washington Photo: Facebook

Hailey Sturgill 2017 National American Miss Washington. Photo: Facebook

NAMily is family

Contestants involved in National American Miss often refer to their pageant system as a “Namily,” but in Hailey’s case, NAM truly is a family affair. "My older sister Gabriella, (who is the current Miss Seattle America) was second runner-up in All-American at nationals as a Preteen, Teen and a Miss. And, my younger sister, Lauren, has been competing in NAM since she was six years old, and was first runner-up in the Preteen All-American nationals a couple of years ago." (Read: Why Families Should Compete in Pageants Together)

Hailey says that she cannot imagine her Thanksgiving holiday without going to NAM to be with ALL of her family.  "This will be my family’s 10th year with National American Miss. It is now a part of who I am and has been a huge factor in helping me become the confident women that I am today. It will be so bittersweet to compete for the last time but I am ready to leave it all on the stage.”

Every NAM girl is a winner

These two incredible young ladies exemplify the ideal National American Miss titleholder. They are both passionate and courageous girls who are interesting because they are interested in the world around them. They are committed to living out their own dreams and helping others find their happiness as well. (Read: Pageant Question About Using Your Title to Benefit Others)

They are memorable because they are not trying to be a cookie cutter image of someone else. They are each simply just being the person they believe they were created to be, while at the same time leaving a legacy of inspirational service. “National American Miss is a very competitive, yet very fair pageant system that offers EVERY girl an equal chance to succeed," Jeremy said. "Be prepared to work extraordinarily hard and to never give up because hard work always pays off!” You can watch the NAM Nationals pageant free via livestream here.

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