Pageantry has often been misinterpreted as a competition full of women who have beauty but no brains. In fact, I received a lot of back lash from many people in my life when they became aware that I was competing for the first time three years ago. What many individuals don't realize is that being a titleholder isn't just a representation of outer beauty; in fact, it holds such power by giving you the voice to reach out to thousands of people and make a difference. I believe that our nation as a whole lacks awareness around the severities that come with mental health illness. Our society has created this invisible label of abnormality that carries with an individual who is struggling. When someone is diagnosed with cancer, or with a disease, there is so much sympathy and support for this individual having difficulty coping with these medical conditions. Why is it that with mental health issues there is a connotation of shame and embarrassment if one seeks assistance from a clinician or therapist? It's almost as if the human race has forgotten that the brain is also a part of your body that can need healing as well. As Miss Tourism New York, I have strived to create a change in the perspective about mental health illness. I work with children and their families who suffer with mental health trauma and every day I hope to make even the slightest bit of positive change in their lives. As a society we must come together and create an understanding of acceptance for individuals who endure the grief that comes along with mental health illness. As my reign comes to an end, I plan to continue spreading awareness and hope to see a positive change in how mental health illness is viewed. To the next Miss Tourism New York: Get ready for the ride of your life! It's an experience that will stick with you for a lifetime!